Why Marketing Should Come First Before Sales

Ending the Debate Once and for All

Photo by Ameer Basheer on Unsplash

Every CEO will tell you that Sales is essential to the business. I’d agree but not before Marketing. Marketing has long been misunderstood as a “nice-to-have”, especially in the pre-Internet era. Brochures, billboards, and tv ads were great but the main activities were led by Sales. Marketing is something you add once your Sales are going well, right? Wrong. Marketing should be conceived from day one as the cornerstone of any business. Sadly, even today many CEOs still don’t understand the role of Marketing.

Marketing is like a person standing on the mountain top calling out your name. The idea is that the entire world will hear your words. At least, we Marketers have that goal. Not only to become known but to dominate the market, of course. The taller the mountain, the more impressive it is.

If a business were fighting a war (which they are in a sense for market shares), Sales would be the soldiers on the ground and Marketers would be the airplanes in the sky. Marketers have a much wider range of visibility and can foresee things that are coming Sales’ way before they can. Marketers also can cover a lot less territory in less time.

Since Marketers stay so high-level, they can map out the strategy for business growth to dominate the market.

Marketers, the aviators, work with Sales, the ground soldiers, to:

  1. Make sure all territory is covered
  2. Give Sales the tools they need to slay the enemy and win on the ground
  3. Drop bombs on the enemy
  4. Warn the Sales teams where they may be swarmed and strategize how to win the enemy territories

Marketing needs to be set up before Sales. Marketing establishes the very brand, its’ purpose, its’ goals, and its’ target audience. Sales confirm if Marketing got it right: the few casualties, the better. Whereas Sales may be persuaded by the customer to try to fit many different criteria for the sake of increasing Sales, Marketing says “This is who we are and what we stand for. This is who our products are for (and who they aren’t for).” That doesn’t mean Marketing isn’t listening to what Sales hears the customer says and may adjust or expand. It’s just that Marketing is first and foremost measuring the success of Sales based on defining what the brand is (and what it isn’t). You can’t please everyone all of the time. If you try to sell to anyone for any price, you will end up the loser in the end.

The truth is that Marketing and Sales need one another, badly. Without information from Sales “on the ground”, Marketing can’t see every nook and cranny “from the air”. And vice versa — Sales can’t see the enemy without information from Marketing.

More CEOs must realize the true partnership between Sales and Marketing and structure them to work in complementary ways. The saddest occurrence is when a CEO builds two departments that barely speak and sometimes even compete. This is not how Sales and Marketing should be utilized in a business. Sales and Marketing executives must definitely have synergy and collaborate well. If not, the company will be the biggest loser in the end.

The myth that Marketing is complementary or secondary must be crushed. Without your aviators in the sky mapping out the territory and bringing that information back home to the troops to better fight the battle, your brand will never reach number one.

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