The Rocky Relationship Between Marketing And Sales (According To 22 Pros)

relationship-between-marketing-and-sales

It’s the end of the month. You spot one or two stares in the hallway, notice some extra shunning at the water cooler, and hear just a few more whispers over by the cubes. You’re in a full-fledged battle (or just a rocky relationship, to be less dramatic, but you know the feeling). You’re on one side of the age-old strife between marketing and sales.

You know all about this rocky relationship between marketing and sales.


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They are the two departments that drive growth at your company (together), but they can’t seem to get along. Blame ping-pongs back and forth if goals aren’t met and one always feels like the other is underperforming.

You can manage your inbound marketing with a single Google Sheet. (Yes, really.)

Is it a lack of education about each others’ complex skills? Do they attract different personality types that naturally don’t agree? I wanted to know about all the reasons why marketing and sales can’t get along, so I took to HARO (helpareporter.com). I asked for people to share their opinions about why these two departments aren’t on the same page. Here is what I learned:

1. Dave Wakeman – Principal (Wakeman Consulting Group)

“One of the reasons that sales and marketing aren’t in sync is that organizations find these issues mutually exclusive.”

2. Mitch Medford – CEO (Blood Shed Motors)

“It has been my experience that sales teams are like an abusive spouse. When things are tough, they want to beat on somebody either it is marketing or development, but when they really need something they are as sweet as honey.”

3. Kent Lewis – President & Founder (Anvil Media, Inc.)

“Sales teams are hunters. They are highly agile predators that like to find prospects and close deals. Once they make the kill, they prefer to move on to the next opportunity.

Marketing teams are gatherers. They prefer the long-view of a farmer and to nurture their crops (leads). Marketers aren’t motivated by the kill as much as setting a trap and capturing the prey.”

4. Jeff Kear – Owner (Planning Pod)

“Most companies start with either a sales emphasis or a marketing emphasis. And some place more emphasis on marketing and brand presence and others focus more on feet-on-the-street sales tactics. This is where the divide starts, because the company early on has a bias toward either sales or marketing, and often this bias sticks around long after the early growing pains.”

5. Joe O’Neill – Marketing Communications Manager (The Expert Institute)

“I think the central thing at play here is that both departments rely on the performance of the other directly, and it becomes easy to blame the other department for the shortcomings of your own.”

6. Jarred Saba (Lease Advisors)

“Sales and marketing people have an interesting relationship. Kind of like engineers and architects, they have trouble getting along due to the detail of their work.”

7. Josh McCormack – Owner (InteractiveQA)



“In short, marketing looks down on sales, and tracks their ROI to things like likes, shares, retweets and connections rather than sales.”

8. David Engel – Founder (Review Concierge)



“Marketing needs to generate a lot of leads. Sales needs to generate a lot of money. They don’t always go hand in hand; conflict is inevitable.”

9. David Reischer – LMP (LawyerReviews.com)

“It is not uncommon for sales and marketing to experience interdepartmental conflict. Marketing managers that work to increase web traffic are often being told by the sales people that they disapprove of website changes.”

10. Lewis Harrison (AskLewis.com)

“Sales and marketing can work together in the well-tuned organization but generally speaking sales is too often focused on closing the deal while marketing is focused on connecting and building long-term relationships.”

11. Daniel McGaw (Fuelzee)

“If the leads coming in are not good, to sales opinion, it is marketing’s fault and there is blame. Marketing of course then says the leads are good, sales just doesn’t know how to close them.”

12. Sandy Arons – Founder & President (Arons & Associates Divorce Planning)

“Sales and marketing sometimes do not get along because sales has quotas and marketing does not. If marketing is given one direction by corporate and sales another, conflict arises.”

13. Linda Carlson (LindaCarlson.com)

“Many who work in marketing want the excitement of ‘creativity,’ and they’d rather spend money on this than on sales training or commissions. In addition, many marketing strategies involve price discounts and direct purchases and fail to acknowledge how these may impact salespeople.”

14. Jim Herst – CEO (Perceptive Selling Initiative, Inc.)

“Most probably, it’s in the ‘delivery’ of communication, with the fault resting with the Marketing Manager. You are judged not on the basis of what you do when things are going right, but on what you do right when things are going wrong.”

15. Mark C. Karkazis – Director of Marketing (Ungaretti & Harris)

“Generally, salespeople are driven by short-term incentives while marketers (other than direct marketers) tend to take a longer-term, brand-building point of view. Marketers often value aesthetics rather than efficacy, because the impact of what they do may not be measured (or measurable).”

16. Frank Rocco – Marketing Director (Washed Ashore Project)

“Problems can arise when, for example, a sales person sees a way of presenting the product or service that may increase sales, but conflicts with the long-term objectives of the organization, which the Marketing Director is responsible for protecting.”

17. Craig Streaman



“The most common piece seems to be tracking cross-channel conversions. Sales teams tend to focus on clients that are ready to buy NOW. Marketers spread their focus out a bit more and lead them down an optimized conversion funnel in order to complete the sales cycle.

As a marketer, it sure is fun to watch a salesperson land a big client and take all the credit for it.”

18. George Athan – Chief Strategist (MindStorm Strategic Consulting)



“The role of marketing is to find interested prospects or create interest. The role of sales is to take that interest and convert it into sales which generates revenue. With these teams operating independently, there will not be one unified message. It’s just a bunch of random actions from both sides with the hopes of sales taking place just because of the volume of the efforts.”

19. John Turner – CEO (UsersThink)

“One of the biggest reasons I’ve seen why sales and marketing don’t get along is when companies only give credit to one factor. More often than not, getting someone to take an action requires a lot of work from different departments while all working toward the same goal.”

20. Eric Quanstrom – CMO (Pipeliner)



“The majority of issues around lead management come from mis-aligned or miscommunicated expectations. Examples include when the sales team is expecting more leads (or different leads), or marketing looks closely at the MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) to close ratio and expects more.”

21. Name: David J. Bradley – Founder (Primal Digital Marketing)



“When a leader fails to unite their team, conflict erupts. Departments become defensive and competitive. They seek to starve other departments of resources for their own benefit, while exaggerating their own successes and belittling others.”

22. Jacob Aldridge – International Business Coach



“Revenue = Activity x Conversion.

In most businesses, Marketing and Sales don’t get along because they are measured independently on these two competing options. Marketing is focused on activity – how many new contacts, what increase in click-through rates, etc. Sales is focused on conversion – am I talking to the right prospects, are they ready for me, is my pitch perfected. Unless these individuals or teams are rewarded collectively in some way, there will always be a tension.”
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OK. That was a lot of insightful negativity to digest. There is hope, though. 

Many of these wonderful people added some strategies they’ve seen that worked to strengthen the relationship between marketing and sales and better unite these departments. So, stay tuned for a follow-up article about how to overcome these challenges. (Don’t want to miss it? Subscribe to the blog to the right.)

Hey, want your opinion included in this article?

Share your take on this rocky relationship below or tweet your opinion with #MARKETINGvsSALES. We’ll add interesting tweets to this article! (And yes, we know it should probably be “marketing and sales” but, let’s be honest, “VS.” sounds more fun!) 


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