Can One Person Be Good at Both Marketing and Sales?

Aligning Sales Leadership and Marketing


There is often a divide between Marketing and Sales. Both departments have the primary focus to generate revenue for the company. However, the primary goals of marketing are to look at the big picture, promote the company, product or service, brand awareness, and to generate leads for the sales team. For sales, the goals are to leverage the brand and tools and hit sales volume goals by executing on the leads generated by marketing. So, with similar but different purposes, why are companies always looking for a VP of Sales and Marketing?

We think that in most cases someone is good at sales and someone is good at marketing. But we have found in most cases when someone is a VP of Sales and Marketing, and they typically have a capital S or capital M when it comes to their skillset and experience. They know sales well but don’t understand marketing well or vice versa.

Some smaller companies claim they must have a single VP for both.  When this happens, we go down the path of asking, “Which is more critical to the company?” We help them recognize which is more important.  What is the need of the company at that moment?

If it’s marketing they want to focus on, then chances are they are seeking help with their brand recognition, market research, and analysis, or generation of leads. If it’s sales-related, then they are probably seeking help with how their sales team executes in the field - better at converting leads, more accountable, or better at holding value. These are two very different needs for a company. A single person typically can’t be an expert at both. We believe you need to hire for what you need and then try and outsource for the other if you have to.

Some of the questions we ask to figure out a company’s primary need are:

Marketing focus:

  • Are you strong on brand?
  • Do people know who you are and where you are positioned in your market?
  • Does your website need to be updated?
  • Are you doing any form of email marketing?
  • Are you doing trade show events? How are those going?
  • Do you need help identifying customers or generating more leads?
  • Are you seeking help with differentiation on your messages?

Sales focus:

  • Do you need help building and developing your sales team?
  • Is your sales team focused on the right set of clients and prospects or chasing everything?
  • How are your close rates? Are they trending up, down or flat?
  • Is the sales team being held accountable for activity levels and initiatives?
  • Does your sales team have a sound sales process in place that everybody follows?

There is a different mindset when it comes to marketing and sales, and both have a different set of skills that the leader needs to possess. For the longest time, you could get a degree in marketing at almost any college or university, but up until recently, you couldn’t get a degree in sales. Society is finally starting to recognize marketing and sales as being separate disciplines.

Regardless of whether you hire a Sales leader or Marketing leader or outsource one or the other, you must make sure that these two functions talk to one another regularly. Both departments should identify their shared goals, define their buyer personas or ideal client, and standardize lead definitions. Too often, marketing thinks they are doing an excellent job because they generated x number of leads, but sales think they only receive bad points from marketing that aren’t worth pursuing. There should be a unified definition of success agreed upon by the two departments. It should also set the protocol for lead management and outline how sales and marketing performance will be measured. When sales and marketing are aligned, the business is poised to attract and qualify more leads and generate more revenue which is the overall goal of both departments.

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