Historically the conventional wisdom about commercial organizations is that they carry with them inherent conflicts – Sales and Marketing stand out as an example of such a conflict that can occur. When commercial divisions are in conflict goals are not achieved due to:

  • Lack of communication between the functions
  • Different quotas/goals for the divisions that lead to different results
  • Lack of understanding from marketing as to what the salespeople need to move deals through the funnel and educate prospects
  • Lag-time on marketing materials or data needed for prospects pricing challenges
  • Siloed data in CRMs and opposed ways of entering/using /managing that data that leads to ineffective lead nurturing
  • Salespeople not educating the enterprise on what prospects need/want/are looking for

The most successful business organizations today recognize competition and/or conflict between Sales and Marketing teams as outmoded and self-limited thinking. In today’s organization, leaders must set the example of taking an enterprise view and looking for synergies that will allow the organization to advance.

When they occur, “conflicts” between Sales and Marketing is one of the least useful of all the rivalries in an organization. Today’s organizational leaders recognize that while their orientation is different, Sales and Marketing are part of what we could call the “demand chain.” Marketing’s job is to create demand for the company’s products or services: to awaken interest and move the potential customer from “cold” to “warm” to “hot” before turning the conversation over to Sales – to fulfill the demand in a way that leaves the customer satisfied and coming back for more. If these conversations are at cross purposes or worse, are in conflict, the customer is not served and revenue is lost or diminished.

Companies with an integrative point of view have gone so far as to put Sales and Marketing under one roof, doing away with the division, and creating a Chief Officer over both functions. Either way, top executives, whatever their titles, need to be in close coordination and share a common enterprise-based outlook.

The characteristic that allows this in both Sales and Marketing is leadership. If conflicts between Sales and Marketing are to be resolved and eliminated, leaders have to understand the demand chain correctly and make quick, coordinated decisions from the 360 degree view that they are responsible for every good and bad thing happening in the company. Companies looking for this type of Sales and/or Marketing executive need to pay attention to the following qualities:


Enterprise View: At every level they must look from what is good for the enterprise and be willing to sacrifice short-term gains for the greater good.

Real-Life Example: The salespeople at a major computer manufacturer brought in a huge contract with a national retailer, a contract worth millions of dollars. The Executive whose accountability was to vet large deals realized that, while the revenue was excellent, the company would actually be selling below cost and, despite great disappointment among the sales staff, vetoed the deal for the good of the enterprise.

A Growth Mindset: Readiness to learn and to let go of old structures and “the way we’ve always done it,” along with the ability and patience to listen to new ideas no matter where they originate from.

Integrity: They refuse to compromise their values. They are honest with themselves and with their prospects and customers.

Collaborative Communication: They have the rare ability to find how everyone benefits from collaboration and to communicate these benefits in such a way that people align with the enterprise perspective  and choose the actions that serve the common good.

While these are skills that will serve the organization well in any leadership position, they are critical in areas that have traditionally experienced conflict that is damaging to the organization. An effective recruiting partner will know how to identify the right combination of skill and experience to drive the growth of the company and will be a long-term partner who will share in your success.


BrainWorks is a prominent boutique executive search firm offering a 29-year track record of successfully sourcing and placing top talent. By harnessing proven strategies, collaborating with stakeholders, and leveraging a diverse and talented candidate network, BrainWorks helps businesses find, attract, and ultimately hire talented professionals that create differentiated results. To learn more about how Brainworks can help you, contact us.

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