If you want to make yourself instantly unpopular, say this in a sales meeting: “Marketing is not a sales-support function. Sales is a marketing-fulfillment function.” But make sure the door is unlocked, the hallways are clear, and the elevator is held open.

Since they generate revenue, sales folks take exception to such talk. But if marketing folks weren’t translating corporate strategy into prioritized product mixes and researching market opportunities for them— and if they weren’t influencing those markets by creating communication programs and promotional campaigns — sales folks would be reduced to cold-callers.

That’s why marketing folks get nervous when sales runs marketing (it happens), and the marketing folks hear things like these:

  1. “Our plan is to sell as much as possible.” (Has anyone seen an actual plan around here?)
  2. “We don’t have time for research.” (Ready. Fire. Aim!)
  3. “If it works, we’ll increase the budget.” (Since we can’t find the plan, does anyone know what it refers to?)
  4. “What do you mean ‘the message is wrong’? We wrote it!” (Are you the target audience?)
  5. “But the boss likes it.” (Oh. The boss is the target audience?)
  6. “But our competitor has a great one.” (We didn’t understand we’re playing to be second.)
  7. “Is this the cheapest way to do it?” (Have you heard of The Good, Fast, and Cheap Rule?*)
  8. “Yeah, but our job is to get it out the door.” (There’s never time to do it right; but there’s always time to do it over.)
  9. “We have to make our numbers!” (If we’d had a plan, we could have avoided the Big Panic.)
  10. “How long do we have to do this?” (Until it works.)

Yes. Marketing departments and sales departments must cooperate. But they have different jobs. It’s not the job of marketing to research targeted accounts, generate leads, or make sales presentations. It’s not the job of sales to create brand identity or elevate market presence. And marketing is not a remedy to be prescribed when earnings are sickly — then discontinued when sales revenues come back to health.

Successful companies are willing to undertake, invest in, and sustain fully integrated marketing programs. The failures consider marketing an expense — and temporary sales support.

What kind of company is yours?

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. (Thomas Edison)

* While everyone wants everything good, fast, and cheap, you can get just two out of three: Good and fast, but it won’t be cheap. Good and cheap, but it won’t be fast. Cheap and fast, but it won’t be good.