The Great Divide Between Sales and Marketing

June 6, 2022
By: Pablo Calvo
Image of a body of water between two canyons. The Great Divide between marketing and sales.
Photo credit: Cody Board on Unsplash

Prior to joining Digiboost, I believed that all success for a company looking to make the jump to recognition came from marketing. I mean, look at social media. It’s all marketing. Filters here, a few cool colors and fonts there, and you’re a hip, once-in-a-generation business that could transform the industry. This probably had more to do with my own naivete, than any basis in fact. I think that I held on to this belief so strongly because my whole career was centered around marketing. I developed my skillset with huge budgets surrounding the directives that I was responsible for driving. It was really easy to hold onto this belief since I was insulated from the prospect to customer lifecycle. Once I made it to a prospect’s radar, my job was done. I only cared about the number of leads that I could drive, nothing more. Well, my friends, that perspective shifted very quickly once I made the jump to self-employment.

Making the switch

When I began my journey into being my own boss around 2012, I was marketing my digital marketing support services to other agencies as a white-label vendor. It was a production business, through and through. All I had to do was manage the resources to deliver my agency partners’ projects on budget and on time. That part was easy. I had been managing projects since I graduated college. I would even argue that I began developing this skill in college (but that’s another discussion). I had to deliver X project by Y date. Project mathematics and very straightforward. This was around the time that I began to notice that even though I was marketing what my niche needed, I still had to sell. I had done presentations to hundreds of people in my career, so selling should have been easy. I mean, when I was 12, I won a trip to Disney World selling newspaper subscriptions door-to-door. This was different. I wasn’t that cute anymore, and I was selling on the phone most of the time because I was working from home long before COVID became de rigueur. I realized that without a track record of clients since I was starting out, I had to learn how to sell them on my abilities and on why my team was better than everyone else’s team. Since my team was mostly outsourced vendors, I was stuck with selling my own skill set. Everything was a job interview. It was tiring trying to land contracts that didn’t pay all that much, but I desperately needed.

A Lesson in Sales

The term that applied to my schooling in sales was simply ‘trial by fire’. I had to learn quickly how to adapt my marketing message to the pain points of potential clients. If I could get that right, I would have more conversations that would result in more sales. The first thing that I learned: I had to stop making assumptions. Rather than speaking to a prospect and telling them what their problems were, I just asked them where their heartburn was worse. Of course, all prospects had similar stories but the details were the components that allowed me to have a receptive audience when I spoke. I had to learn how to adapt my conversation to solving their pain points. Any good salesperson knows that this process is how sales scripts are developed. I had no idea what I was doing. I was simply using every conversation as an opportunity to learn more about getting to closing. With this, I began having new respect for salespeople.

Sales Gets a Bad Rap

I used to equate all salespeople with the reputation carried by car salespeople. I’m not trying to denigrate the fine personnel trying to get you a great deal on a fine automobile. I’m just saying that their reputation may have been earned by a select few. Truth be told, all salespeople have to close. Their income depends on closing deals. Properly managed sales teams apply the science of closing to every aspect of the prospect engagement, at all levels. With my new experience in struggling to close deals with prospects, I realized that I needed to focus on the prospect ‘winning’. Their winning didn’t mean that I would necessarily lose. So long as I could close deals consistently enough, I would get enough repeat business to grow my business. What I realized was that if I could put myself in the prospect’s shoes and reasonably solve their major pain points, I would get more signed contracts.

Wearing Two Hats

With my marketing background and my hard-earned sales education, I was able to apply what I learned in real time to every engagement. It wasn’t applied to only prospect engagements, I used my lessons learned in client management as well. You see, you’re always selling, even when you don’t think you are. The moment you realize that, you begin to operate differently. You take ownership of what your customer will think about something that you’re doing before you do it. I’m not a fortuneteller, but I do spend quite a bit of time thinking about customer perception. It has become part of my professional persona. It’s how I manage our fine team at Digiboost. Once I realized that I could be a marketer and a salesperson in the same breath, it opened up a world of possibilities for me professionally, but also for how our company operates.

Tearing Down the Wall

As I’ve worked with multiple organizations in various industries from startups to long-standing companies, I’ve noticed that my previous notions of sales vs. marketing existed in many of them too. I’ve been in many meetings where sales blames marketing and vice-versa. For two organizations that have the same overall goals of growing their companies, this is curious. If you think about it, neither would succeed if only one group works well. If sales doesn’t close deals, marketing spend is wasted. If marketing doesn’t drive leads, there are no sales to close. Neither option is a good one. Marketing and sales are ying and yang, both sides of the same coin. When your organization works on partnering sales and marketing as one unit, your super powers are unlocked. Both teams work to make the other better and grow your company as a result.

Sales and Marketing As One Team

At Digiboost, when we we perform our due diligence, we look at all aspects of the sales and marketing operations. However, what we’re really looking at is how sales and marketing are integrated into the business operations. How do they individually and collectively contribute to the organization’s quarterly and yearly growth targets? We review our findings and our recommendations with our clients to ensure that what we’re thinking is on track or not. Success starts traveling in the right direction. Going East when the client is traveling West won’t work no matter how good the plan is on paper. Theory and practice must be in line, and the sales and marketing teams must travel as one. At Digiboost, we have had some of our most successful engagements doing exactly this. Even our internal operations follow this philosophy closely.

If you’re interested in researching this approach further, please contact us.

About the Author

Pablo Calvo

Pablo lives in San Antonio, TX with his wife and two sons. He spends most of his time playing at work and working at play, with the same goal: having fun doing it. If you’d like to connect with Pablo, you can find him at linkedin.com/in/pablocalvo322.