boxing glovesOne challenges  many CEOs face is to finding a way to balance the role of Sales with the role of Marketing.

Some deal with it by having the VP position be one.  My contention is all this does is move the argument of who is right and who is wrong down one notch in the organization.

The challenge is in finding the right balance where both groups play well in the sandbox together and leverage each other’s strengths to cultivate a greater outcomes.

Unfortunately, in most companies, one department is stronger than the other, either due to the culture of the company and the industry they operate in or the individual people in the departments.

Regardless of the structure, the two groups must serve as a counter balance to the each other.  This does not mean they assess or audit each other, but rather they work in a manner that allows the other group to operate more effectively.

The role marketing must play is in being the keeper of the brands, names, and the equity of what the business stands for.  Marketing is far more skilled at controlling brand positioning than Sales, yet I’ve seen far too many times where Sales tries to control brand positioning.   When Sales does this, they are undoubtedly responding to the needs of a particular customer and their short-term needs.

Sales on the other hand must control the customer relationship without interference from Marketing.  Again, this sounds simple enough, until a customer doesn’t react the way Marketing was expecting, and then without blinking an eye, the Marketing team suddenly feels they’re sales professionals.

For the majority of CEOs and other senior level leaders, situations like this exist far too long before they bubbles up to the top.   This is what makes the Marketing vs. Sales issue so difficult to manage.  Both groups are comprised of professionals comfortable in making decisions and just as comfortable in making decisions for other people and other departments.

Your role as the CEO is to be active.

This means not managing purely through staff meetings and reports.  It means participating on occasion in marketing strategy meeting and making customer calls.   For many CEOs, CFOs and other high-level company officials, these two tasks can be extremely threatening and full of risk.

My position is the only threat and risk you have is to your own ego.  Failure to be engaged is a much bigger risk to your earnings and your company.

Challenge yourself to participate in one Marketing planning or strategy meeting each quarter and to make at least two sales calls each quarter.    By the way, this is just a start.

I believe engaged CEOs should be spending 30% of their time in the field with customers, but I’ll save that discussion for another blog post.

Copyright 2013, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

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