Is the role of sales and marketing director dead?

Is it a sign of the times, and the broad acceptance of marketing as a standalone discipline, that the role of the sales and marketing director is becoming less common? Can you really focus effectively when you are doing two jobs?

Make no mistake they are two very different jobs. In a recent Marketing Week feature, Pitney Bowes marketing director Phil Hutchinson commented:

   “Marketers are thinkers and strategists, they are more creative, whereas sales    is a very hard-hitting, fast moving and fairly aggressive environment. Within      marketing, you need to think more long term. In the sales arena, you’re                  always dealing pretty much in the short term.”

Differing disciplines

Sales and marketing are two diametrically opposed roles with different focus, different methodologies and different outcomes. They exist at different stages of the buying process. Though bound by the need to sell products, they go about it in very contrasting ways.

If you are operating in a sales role, you are focused on selling, period. You want to shift as much as you can as quickly as you can. Discounting, bundling and price promotion are the tools to use. They are not the same tools that the marketing-focused use to build durable brand equity for the longer term.

Anecdote time

In an early post-university position, I worked with a boorish sales director who ruled the sales and marketing roost. For a time he dominated the negotiation and running of key account relationships. He went awol for days on end, conducting his business on Europe’s finest golf courses, running up huge expenses as he went. And, of course, giving away product at significantly reduced prices.

After a while, a southern based director of market development moved north. They didn’t seem eye-to-eye. But surprisingly, it was the sales director that made way. He was a relic. His perspective and his blinkered view of the world had become outdated and dangerous to the business.

Overnight, the company moved from being a sales led to a marketing led business. That isn’t to say that sales targets weren’t set and worked towards, but that the profitable meeting of segmented and definable customer needs became the mantra. It remains the case today, and many companies the world over are now doing the same thing. Channelling their efforts into designing and supplying products and services that meet the exacting requirements of niche segments. Marketing is the future of selling.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to this. If marketing and sales were the same, there wouldn’t have been the need to differentiate between the two. Marketing would never have happened, the fact it did – 90 years before the concept of ‘spin’ – speaks volumes.

What has your experience been? Have you conducted a sales and marketing role and if so, did you honestly focus 50:50? Do you think a sales and marketing role is achievable in the modern business age? Might it just be worth thinking about that next sales and marketing vacancy you need to fill?

Image: Corp Intel

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