The Disconnect

– The Dilemma –

Sales and marketing should go together like peanut butter and jelly. Unfortunately, many organizations experience friction between these two areas, especially when it comes to meeting goals and hitting sales numbers. Sales tends to blame marketing for lack of sales support and successful advertising campaigns, while marketing becomes frustrated with sales for not using approved advertising material and wasting generated lead opportunities.

As a marketing professional, I can attest to how difficult it can be to balance marketing work with supporting a sales force. (And no, the two functions aren’t the same, but that’s another topic.) Responding to seemingly endless requests from sales reps quite often feels like a burden that interferes with planning and execution of marketing strategies. But it’s important to remember that the pressure to hit and exceed sales goals are real, and the toll it can take on your sales reps can be heavy. And as the discretionary spend in marketing budgets get smaller, it’s just not practical for many organizations to invest much time on one-off requests from salespeople. Clearly, the time that marketing devotes to a single sales opportunity is time that could have been used to influence an entire market.

Why is sales is so dependent on marketing for help in their local advertising and prospecting efforts? The main reason is that the “standardized” marketing collateral is of little help during the sales cycle. Put yourself in the place of a sales rep or prospect and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Would you present this material to a prospect or take the time to read it?
  • Is it easy to find answers to any questions you may have about the company’s products or services?
  • Is there something about the company’s products or services that is compelling and distinct from the competition?
  • Does the material allow the sales rep to do what they do best?
  • Can you find information about the sales rep in the material?
  • Is the text and imagery that’s used in the material appropriate to the region it’s being used in, i.e. rural, urban, southwest, east coast, etc.?

The cold, hard truth is that outside of branded company profiles, there are very few marketing materials that effectively support the sales rep’s individual presentation style while helping the prospect move through the various stages of the decision-making process. And it should be no surprise to any of us why sales reps are constantly asking marketing to create customized presentations and advertising material for their unique situations. After all, who knows your target market better than the people who are out on the ‘front lines’ meeting with them every day? The top salespeople understand that their first meeting with a prospect is usually their only chance to learn about their needs and make a convincing presentation. And if sales aren’t closed, no one eats.


About the Author: Nathan Post is a creative marketing leader who’s passionate about all things brand. Based in Chicago, IL, his work has been recognized by the Marcom Awards, Telly Awards, Midas Awards and the Society of Typographical Arts. Nathan has a special interest in social media marketing and online reputation management and believes the road to success involves managing a consistent brand perception across all touch points. He holds a BFA from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and an MBA from Purdue University, Calumet. Contact him at