Salespeople Aren’t Marketers


Share on LinkedIn

When sales leaders and senior managers push their sales teams to “market” on behalf of the organization, something is wrong. Salespeople aren’t marketers, and successful marketing doesn’t require salespeople to step into a marketing role.

Professor Peter Drucker, widely regarded as an extraordinary thinker on business and management, regarded marketing and sales as antithetical. In fact, contrary to popular thought, he did not consider them synonymous or even complimentary.

According to Drucker, the aim of marketing is to know and understand the company’s customers so deeply that when they see the company’s product or service offering, it so clearly fits what they want that they are ready to buy. There is no need for traditional selling in this scenario – there is only a customer ready to buy and a company that either stands in the way or facilitates the purchase. In an ideal world, where marketing functions optimally, selling becomes superfluous.

In the business-to-business environment, the job of the marketing group is to fill the top of a company’s sales funnel with high quality, bona fide prospects that are ready to become customers.

Assuming your products and services meet the actual needs of your customers, failure to fill the top of the sales funnel points directly at a problem in the marketing department. The marketing folks may not truly understand what their customers want and need or the marketing messages may not directly impact what customers want to accomplish, fix or avoid.

When the marketing department does its job successfully, selling, in the traditional sense, becomes superfluous, as Professor Drucker states. Does highly effective marketing, then, portend the end of professional selling? Hardly.

The good news for the sales professional is that successful marketing changes the role of the salesperson in an organization. Unburdened with marketing tasks, the professional salesperson can concentrate on developing skills that uncover hidden sales opportunities and that help facilitate and grow customer loyalty.

Steve Chriest
Selling Up
Steve Chriest is the founder of Selling Up™, a sales consulting firm specializing in sales revenue improvement. He is the author of Selling The E-Suite, The Proven System for Reaching and Selling Senior Executives™ and Profits and Cash: The Game of Business™.


  1. Steve

    Peter Drucker is regarded as a guru and rightly so. I spent a number of years working in the hospitality industry, in which it was very common to find Directors of Sales and Marketing. These schizophrenics struggled with dual responsibilities – building the brand and making the sale. Short-terms goals – making quarterly sales quotas – usually won the battle. It would be a very odd person to have both skill sets.

    Francis Buttle, PhD
    The Customer Champion

  2. Francis,

    Thanks for the insights. The trick appears to be breaking down the silos that separate sales and marketing while allowing each, with a high degree of cooperation between them, to perform their separate, important functions.

    I observe too often that both departments are treated like red-headed step children in B2B organiztions. Unfortuately, the sales and marketing groups invite this treatment as everyone becomes aware of the fact that the sales and marketing folks truly don’t understand eachother!

  3. Calling sales and marketing antithetical seems slightly over the top, but it does underscore the tension between them. As you point out, one of the jobs of a marketing group in B2B marketing is to provide high-quality leads. A [url=]good lead management system [/url]goes a long way toward accomplishing this goal in a disciplined way.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here