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Marketing and Sales: Conflict and Cooperation in Consumer Product Organizations

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Marketing and Sales: Conflict and Cooperation in Consumer Product Organizations

Some might consider sales and marketing synonymous, one task split into two. However this could not be further from the truth. Sales are activities that lead to closing the deal and signing an agreement or contract. Marketing is the courses of action implemented to reach and persuade prospects (Lake, n.d.). The relationship between these two departments is analogous to the sibling rivalry of Siamese twins, joined at the hip and constantly arguing. Different in culture and personality, marketing and sales are traditionally at odds but cannot successfully perform their assigned tasks without the other. To avert the negative impact that arises from this conflict vigilant observation and swift action is necessary. Only in this way can a company’s management can control the situation between the divisions. Particularly for a consumer product company, as the average level of consumer savvy increases, the importance of the sales and marketing departments working in sync becomes even greater (Dewsnap & Jobber, p.874).

The conflict between sales and marketing is essentially a consequence of the two groups viewing the world differently. This impedes communication and integration of the departments (Martin, n.d.). One of the clearest ways to comprehend the different views is a thorough understanding of the culture conflict between sales and marketing. Each subdivision has its own agendas, priorities and opposing ways of performing its responsibilities. An example of this is the acceptable length of time it takes to see results. Salespeople see planning in terms of short term objectives to meet customer demands. Marketing personnel use long term, strategic plans that focus on future profit, its longer time horizon a necessity. While a salesperson sees an acceptable time of accomplishment at approximately three months, a marketer would be willing to wait three years (Lipe, n.d.). Further instances of culture conflict between marketing and sales are with accountability and pricing. Each department argues over sales inhibiting prices and who is to blame, but fails to take into consideration the real causes behind problems (Ramanathan, n.d.). This type of counterproductive attitude is something managers should try to steer employees away from. Another dissimilarity that leads to problems between sales and marketing is the perspective each has toward tasks. Marketing is primarily concerned with building brand or product awareness and a long view of the broad, general target market. Sales is predominantly focused on individual customer accounts and distribution channels, more personalized toward each potential buyer (Dewsnap & Jobber, p.874). This important difference can lead to aggravation and misunderstandings. For example, a salesperson in a region would see nothing wrong with requesting a special promotion for a preferred customer. He or she is concentrating on satisfying that individual. However, the marketer views the request as the creation of an imbalance that could anger other customers, prospects and sales personnel in other regions (Lipe, n.d.).

The nature of the demands on sales and marketing mean that different people are appropriate for each function. Basic personalities determine who will be best suited for which job and inter-functional issues that evolve from differing character traits. Marketers tend to be introverted, analytical and reflective. Staying inside their offices, the marketers are concerned with logic and need hard information to effectively do their jobs. Salespeople are the reverse. Extroverts who enjoy the travel away from their desks, salespeople rely less on facts to sell products but more on instincts and personal aptitude (Lipe, n.d.). Marketers will gather the data but salespeople will be irritated by the energy they perceive it takes away from the sales efforts. This also leads to each department stereotyping the other (Havens, 2004, Lipe, n.d.). Marketing sees sales as demanding and ego driven people who are never satisfied. Sales views marketing as aloof and overly concerned with structure. These labels impede peaceful communication and reinforce negative images. These types of personality divergences will lead to resentment and feelings that efforts being made are unappreciated, leading to offense and decreased productivity for all involved (“Co-Ordinate”, 2004).

As a manager, there are many avenues available to calm the friction between the two departments. However, one of the most essential things is to integrate the two departments with frequent and detailed communication. Sales and marketing should share goals, power, information, expertise and resources as members of the same team. This would help absolve the detrimental ‘us versus them’ mentality (“Co-Ordinate”, 2004). Having a clear plan and unified strategy is also essential for the smooth running of an organization. With all policies set, this will preempt any disagreements

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