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Optimizing the relationship between Sales and Marketing

Updated: Jun 19, 2021

There is a tendency to conflate sales and marketing as both are ultimately supposed to increase the number of units sold or clients closed. However, they are two distinct practices that can deliver incredible results when used appropriately.

An effective marketing team makes it easier for the sales team to focus on selling products, while a strong sales team is able to make maximum utility of all the leads generated by the marketing team and give them accurate sales data to improve the marketing plan. In this article, we will explore the differences between sales and marketing and how the relationship between the two can be optimized for the highest level of performance.

In particular, we will be looking at the relationship between field marketing and sales teams, where the line between the two can often be blurred or entirely absent.

What is Marketing

Marketing is the process of getting prospective consumers and clients interested in your products and/or services while maintaining relationships with existing consumers and clients. It is generally an ongoing activity with many facets.

As defined in a previous article, field marketing is a branch of marketing that involves physical interaction between the brand and the customer. It is a very intimate and potent form of marketing that engages all the senses and immerses the consumer in the brand. Field marketing activities range from merchandising to creating brand experiences like pop up stores.

Field marketing is an excellent vehicle for generating and reinforcing brand awareness, increasing engagement with consumers at retail sites and driving social proof.

What is Sales

“Sales” refers to all the activities involved in selling products or services. Ideally, sales efforts involve working with prospects who have been warmed up by marketing efforts (qualified leads), presenting them with additional information and helping the customer or client understand how the product or service being sold fulfils their needs or resolves a pain point.

Sales departments also contribute to the business beyond their primary selling function. They help build loyalty and trust between the brand and the consumer, aid in customer retention and encourage consumers to be brand evangelists.

Sales efforts thrive when they are given qualified leads by a marketing department.

What are the differences between Sales and Marketing?

There are a few key factors that distinguish between Sales and Marketing as business functions. Understanding these differences lays the groundwork for figuring out how to make them work well together:

1. How Are They Carried Out?

Both marketing and sales efforts are guided by plans. Marketing plans outlines the details of the product, the target audience, how much it will be sold for and where it will be sold. Thereafter, marketing goals and channels are decided and a budget is allocated.

On the other hand, sales plans include details about the sales process, team structure, target market, and goals. Plus, the sales plan outlines the action plan, tools, and resources that will be used to hit these targets.

2. What do they Intend to Achieve?

A marketing department’s primary goal is broad and conceptual. Most of Marketing’s deliverables are not really tangible, like brand recognition and consumer loyalty. Marketing departments are built to promote the business and its products or services.

They also determine product price and messaging for how the product satisfies customers’ needs. By nature, they are long term and often span many months to a year.

Sales departments are driven by numbers. They have sales quotas for minimum units sold and targets for the number of leads contacted. Their deliverables are measured weekly, monthly and quarterly, depending on the industry.

3. How do they Achieve their Goals?

Field marketing is a very intimate area of marketing that brings the brand to the consumer. Field marketers and brand ambassadors are living embodiments of the brand and their primary responsibility is to create a relationship between the consumer and the brand.

Sales involve a variety of strategies such as conceptual selling, value proposition selling, solution selling, benefits selling and inbound selling. Sales personnel are mostly responsible for getting consumers who are familiar with the brand and showing them how the purchase will improve their lives.

How can Sales and Marketing be Aligned?

With an understanding of the key functions of sales and marketing as well as the differences between them, brands can effectively align marketing and sales operations to reduce resource wastage and increase revenue.

1. Define Clear Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are a vital part of marketing strategy and help brands understand who their target market is. This information is also important for sales so they can have a clear image of who they are selling to. A unified buyer persona profile ensures marketing and sales teams have the same idea of who they are targeting, which makes it easier for the two teams to share data and analyses.

2. Set up Channels for Sales to Receive Qualified Leads

While sales teams may have their own customer acquisition initiatives, there needs to be an effective marketing-to-sales pipeline so the sales team can make better use of leads from marketing. A dedicated individual or team can be assigned to take qualified leads and close them while the brand is still fresh in their minds.

3. Create a Written Policy

Creating a guideline or policy document that outlines the internal relationship between sales and marketing teams will reduce redundancy and create a smooth workflow. This document would include shared goals, buyer personas and standardized lead definitions. The document should also include a protocol for managing leads and the metrics for measuring performance for both sales and marketing. A document of this nature is useful for establishing a culture of cooperation between sales and marketing. It also makes the process of onboarding new team members much easier.


When there is alignment between sales and marketing, both functions can give their best in dedicated roles. The brand will be better equipped to attract new prospects, create qualified leads and convert more efficiently. The reduction in redundancy and wastage will also translate to a more profitable business.

If you need a field marketing agency that can give your business a boost, get in touch with us. We would love to have a conversation with you about helping your brand achieve its full potential.

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