Marketing and Sales are two critical functions in every business. They are true corporate siblings and siblings do not always get along. Working together, Marketing and Sales generate customers and help to keep them. Since you cannot eliminate conflict in an organization, what you can do is harness it to clarify ideas and strategies for selling your company’s products or services. Let’s define some terms:

Marketing with a small “m.” The process of marketing is simply the creation of customer satisfaction at a profit. Marketing with a capital “M” is generally a staff department that does market research, develops products and services, and designs company communications of all types, internal and external. Occasionally, Marketing may include customer service and inside sales.

Sales is a process. The function of Sales is to move prospects (who may already be customers for other services or products) from interest to buying. Marketing creates the messages that create interest and Sales closes the deals. Sales people can be a tremendous source of research information that can help refine messages and promotions and also improve products and services. Marketing can be a great source of leads that sales people take to turn into business that generates revenue and profits.

Where things go wrong. Sales people are generally the most highly compensated employees in the company. In many companies, they can make more than executives because they are directly connected to the generation of revenue. Left unattended, that attitude of sales people can evolve into elitism which rubs other employees the wrong way. In the whole process of creating value that gets monetized into revenue and profits, is there any job in the company that is not in some way connected to that end? Does everyone in your company understand that?

What to do. First, help every employee understand their role in creating the value that brings customers and keeps them. Measure their performance on the part of their job they control that contributes. Have new employees spend time learning how their jobs are connected with the jobs of others in the larger internal system of value creation. Have Marketing and Sales work together on promotional programs to reinforce the alliance between message and action. Make sure Marketing provides a steady diet of research on how the company is doing in satisfying customer needs. Train sales personnel to search for prospects needs and sell to those needs specifically. Regularly debrief Sales and customer contact people staffers to learn what is really going on in customers minds. Get their opinions on what they see working and not working. As a leader you can harness the natural conflict between Sales and Marketing for the good of those employees and the good of your company.

Paul Riecks is a Principal at INSIGHT.  At INSIGHT, we believe that every business has the opportunity and the potential to be as successful as its owners want it to be and deserves the chance to reach that potential. One of the best resources available to business owners and CEOs for help in reaching their company's potential is the deep pool of knowledge shared with other business owners and CEOs. So, what we do is form INSIGHT Groups-each with 10-15 owners and CEOs- and facilitate their monthly meetings where they advise each other, share ideas and experiences and gain the clarity they need to achieve the success they seek.