Sales VS Marketing: The Ever Raging Battle

Have you realized that at most workplaces, the SALES TEAM thinks MARKETING is always out of touch with reality? Marketing teams think sales is myopic (too focused on individual customer experiences)?


The animosity between these two departments (Sales & Marketing) is quite DEFINITELY misunderstood which is why I had to bring in JOHN PAUL OKWIR to teach us a thing or two about SALES VS MARKETING. Not only is he a tutor at DATAMINE, but he also carries with him massive experience in both sales and marketing.

Before we delve into our conversation, let’s put to bed the difference between Marketing and Sales – Marketing is building awareness of your organization and brand to potential customers while Sales is turning that viewership into a profit, by converting those potential customers into actual ones. One might also say SALES refers to all activities that lead to the selling of goods & services whereas MARKETING is the process of getting people interested in the goods & services being sold.


Let’s get to it, shall we?


Who is John Paul Okwi?

John Paul Okwi is a passionate marketer. I started my craft in Finance and accounting then got into Sales where I found my passion for Marketing. I currently work for MTN Uganda under Marketing and I am also a Tutor at DATAMINE an accredited CIM study center.


Introducing to Sales

I did business development which is just a sexy name for salespeople. Over the years, I learned that we are all salespeople in one way or the other. We are all selling something from ourselves to our businesses. You are selling yourself to your boss, neighbors, friends, family & even religious places are selling faith. Even the oldest profession in the land (prostitution) is a sales job. Salespeople have been here for the longest time and are not about to go because there will always be people buying products or purchasing services.


Technology is here to aid sales, not to replace it. Gone are the days when salespeople used to go around knocking on doors to get clients because the practice has shifted from “sales pitches” to customer experience. So sales is the management of a customer experience or a prospect experience leading to a customer. I think Sales is no longer a transaction but a relationship.



This debate has been there from time memorial and not just in business, but in leadership as well. My personal opinion is that SALES is changing because the bank in the day, it was all about presenting a product & hard-selling someone to buy it. Today, 90% of the top salespeople are friends because customers are not looking for salespeople but for buddies!


Is sales a skill? YES & NO. Of course, there are people who are naturally friendly so they might have an easier time let’s say at the bar or so in closing a sale however everyone is a salesperson in a way & this is why we are empowering people at DATAMINE to become all-around salespeople. By the way, when you are friendly & you’re a salesperson, you’re probably going to morph the entire sales process into an emotional real & at DATAMINE, we already teach how emotions supersede logic so customers & prospects are more likely to buy. All this requires traits like likeability & friendship, which are not born at birth but learned over time.


Are today’s Sales Teams’ lazy?

Sales, in general, is not a walk in the park. It all starts with MARKETING, whose primary function is to PRIME THE CUSTOMER – Understanding the needs of a customer in order to come up with products & services that offer value. After this, they communicate this value EFFECTIVELY to prospective clients in the form of awareness so that by the time SALES comes on board, it’s all about CLOSING. The issue is sometimes, MARKETING churns out poor quality/ cold leads which in the end reflects poorly on the SALES TEAM when it’s time to close.


What’s the case for Marketing?

Marketers are your customer champions, your customer ambassadors. They are there to understand and pinpoint customers that would share value with them. Marketers offer a long-term effect to your brand, changing perceptions, beliefs, and whatnot.


Marketing as a discipline is rather a long-term venture because you need to understand and develop competitive advantage approaches, which takes time. The common denominator between Sales and Marketing is that the customer is changing and we have to address those changes. Marketing’s primary focus is to ‘prime’ – it’s to find out what a client wants, a client’s beliefs, and whatnot. To create value and to market and awareness towards that value effectively.




If sales teams and marketing teams are supposed to work together, why the animosity?


As much as most marketers might not agree with this, Marketing sprung out of a Sales orientation. Over time, the market was crowded with a number of products and options to choose from and that’s where the Marketing orientation came in to understand customers a little bit better.


For most SMEs, Marketing is the same as Sales – they often don’t separate the roles until the workload is much. As organizations grow, they realize the need for planning, which is the astute test that ensures that Marketing and Sales work together.


Sales are easily seen well as seeing the tangible results of Marketing is not as easy as it seems. But I think the major cause of this animosity is mainly a budget allocation issue that has to be addressed.


There is also a cultural conflict between the types of people employed by these disciplines. Marketers tend to be more analytical, data-oriented, and focused on building a competitive advantage for the client well as for Salespeople it’s quite the opposite. The Sales oriented culture involves moving out to go look for business and close sales because most times performance is benchmarked on a daily/ weekly basis, as opposed to once a month when it comes to Marketing.


The other issue is SALES is a very tangible venture and its impact is seen instantly whereas Marketing departments are not doing a very good job at demonstrating their value & impact. We should be having a discussion on how these two departments can work together. There is also another battel of Marketing VS Finance but it will be for next time.


How can brands put cohesion between these two raging departments?

This is a disclaimer – it’s possible but this won’t be very easy. Of course, the first would be enrolling for DATAMINE where you can learn all these things.


However practically, let me just share about 3 low hanging approaches that can help us create synergies between these two departments;

  1. Having regular meetings with the teams. Many leading companies have mastered that element of having these two departments work together and this is not easy to imitate and it builds the best competitive advantage.
  2. Having people from the two departments share feedback and learn from each other. This in turn will show how SALES can advise marketing & how Marketing can help SALES out better. Marketing might have secondary data but Sales is in touch with primary data on a DAILY.
  3. Unpacking the Sales funnel. If we can streamline and understand this, we could build these synergies by removing the misalignment that exists.



In what practical ways has Sales or Marketing changed?


Sales has changed because the customer is changing – Salespeople should be selling benefits more than they are selling products. Customers are looking for people willing to share knowledge and information and that is what is bringing in key sales these days – it’s not about the product anymore. Salespeople shy away from technology and tools that could help them make the work easier.


Marketing is also changing and our burden is heavier now. The ball game for internal marketing is changing – it’s no longer about customers but also your staff, it’s about people. This means we have to market to our people a lot more and build cultures that support growth. Understanding customers for Marketers has become key, this is beyond the demographics. We need to intimately understand our customers – what do they like, what are their beliefs, what do they love? It’s basically about Sentiment. Lastly, ROI has changed. The reason why Marketing is not appealing to Sales & Finance is that we are shy about talking the numbers game.


By Faisal Ssesanga AKA PYEPAR FAISAL