Ending the War Between Sales and Marketing

Philip Kotler, Neil Rackham, Suj Krishnaswamy
Harvard Business Review, July 2006
Special Double Issue on Sales July-Aug., 2006

Reprint # R0607E

Sales departments tend to believe that marketers are out of touch with what's really going on in the marketplace. Marketing people, in turn, believe the sales force is myopic—too focused on individual customer experiences, insufficiently aware of the larger market, and blind to the future. In short, each group undervalues the other's contributions. Both stumble (and organizational performance suffers) when they are out of sync. Yet, few firms seem to make serious overtures toward analyzing and enhancing the relationship between these two critical functions. Curious about the misalignment between Sales and Marketing, the authors interviewed pairs of chief marketing officers and sales vice-presidents to capture their perspectives. They looked in depth at the relationship between Sales and Marketing in a variety of companies in different industries. Their goal was to identify best practices that could enhance the joint performance and increase the contributions of these two functions. Among their findings: The marketing function takes different forms in different companies at different product life cycle stages. Marketing's increasing influence in each phase of an organization's growth profoundly affects its relationship with Sales. The strains between Sales and Marketing fall into two main categories: economic (a single budget is typically divided between Sales and Marketing, and not always evenly) and cultural (the two functions attract very different types of people who achieve success by spending their time in very different ways). In this article, the authors describe the four types of relationships Sales and Marketing typically exhibit. They provide a diagnostic to help readers assess their companies' level of integration, and they offer recommendations for more closely aligning the two functions.

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