Should Sales & Marketing Leadership Be Divided or Unified?


Share on LinkedIn

A Linkedin discussion thread (actually two) gave me a bit of a “light bulb” moment this week. I’d first asked multiple sales, CRM and process groups a question about why the relationship between sales and marketing so often becomes so dysfunctional. That provoked quite an outpouring – with most castigating senior management for not setting common goals and ensuring common purpose. More than a few CXOs would get red-faced reading these comments.

The follow-up question asked whether sales & marketing should have separate or unified leadership. A responder, and a veteran manager who’s lived on both sides of the fence, came back with a fascinating comment. His take is that it depends on the organization. But then he added that he’d worked it both ways and observed that marketing becomes more tactical, as in providing more sales support, under a combined leader – but at the expense of big picture thinking. Conversely, split leadership tends to keep marketing on the big picture, branding side – but at the expense of sales support.

What struck me was that more than just depending on the organizational context, the answer also depends on the economic context. Ergo, with most business thinkers agreeing that demand generation is today’s marketing/sales imperative, shouldn’t we be switching to unified leadership of these two functions?

(Other commenters suggested bringin in customer service, too. However, many companies appropriately tie customer service to operations first, with links to sales, so it’s not always practical.)


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