Young woman with coloured powder blowing off her face, showing the art of sales and marketing.

Marketing or Sales
which comes first and which should?

This takes about 3 minutes to read

Let me start by saying, this is a trick question, which comes first, marketing or sales. It’s just like asking, which comes first the chicken or the egg. Let us consider that this is a false question and the real question needs to be something entirely different. Not marketing, not sales, neither the chicken nor the egg, but what is the purpose of the business. In this view, the marketing and sales support the aspirations of the business.

Business Aims

Now the question has been redefined, we can work through this properly. In general, we must consider the aims of a business and not bother with the how, which are as follows:

  • Grow the business
  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Improve customer value
  • Provide more products and services

If we can achieve the items in the list above, then everything else we want or need flows from that. The problem is, how to achieve those goals.

Achieving Goals

To do that, it becomes necessary to understand what the client and the potential client wants, what they need, their pains and fears. From there, produce a compelling offering that speaks directly to the potential client for that product and/or service. When we understand them, speak directly to their wants, needs, pains and fears, we can show we understand the world as they do. This means creating a long-term relationship between you and the potential client, so when they become a client, they will know and understand that you are still there for them, walking alongside. Helping their business to grow, using the same criteria you are using for your business.

Adding Value

The focus needs to be on the value that the potential client is deriving from your solution to their wants, needs, pains and fears. Your solution has to offer better value than the others competing for the same clients. What you offer and how you present it, will depend on the current economic climate, what the market is prepared to accept and what it wants. Be prepared for a degree of flexibility here, as during various parts of the business cycle different propositions will be more effective than at other times. For example, during a downturn, the actual cost might be more important, by keeping the value aligned correctly, perhaps by tweaking other parts of the offering. Flexibility and adaptability are the watch words here.

Full Circle

Which brings us back around to marketing and sales. Is it sales and marketing or marketing and sales? We ask ourselves this particularly important question.

Potential Client

Well, from a practical perspective, the potential client will probably see the marketing activity before any sales activity, so we could easily make a case for marketing and sales. Due purely to the order in which they seem to occur to the potential client.

Internal Perspective

From an internal business perspective, it would seem logical for the order to be sales and marketing, as we need to know what we are selling, before we can create any marketing plan. This ignores the external perspective and can lead to all kinds of problems. Such as, the sales and marketing activities having their own agenda and moving in different directions.

The Same Thing

So, lets consider that they are really two aspects of the same coin. One cannot exist without the other and, thus intertwined at all times, otherwise, their goals diverge and we end up with an inefficient mess. I don’t have a name for this combined function, but, if you do, let me know and I will update the article.

By taking the approach that says sales and marketing are two functions that must exist under the same umbrella. They report to the same manager and accept that the marketing function is there to support the sales, just as operations and admin do. This implies the rest of the company support the sales activity, which makes sense as the revenue all comes from sales. But this is key, sales needs everyone else, otherwise they fail.

To that end, everyone supports sales, which means everyone is an ambassador for the business. So being an ambassador is a full-time job and it implies that every role is client facing, whether at the pub, café, over the phone and/or email, or in a client’s office.

Ignore the distinction between marketing and sales, take the functions that both offer and combine them into a single functional group. What works well or is functional for a multi-national company doesn’t necessarily work well for a micro business, neither does the same approach work for a SME. Take the tools that work best for the current size of your business and accept that, quite possibly, in the future the situation can and will change.


It is extremely important to bear in mind at all times the continuing fluctuations in the business world and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Katherine Says

From a practical perspective, in the SME world there is little no difference between sales and marketing. What matters is that you do all the background work to understand your ideal client. That you know their wants, needs, pains and fears. Once fully understood, a coordinated sales and marketing strategy established.

The important point, that in a changing world, what matters is the joined-up thinking that enables the business to adapt and change to the new conditions in the market and the expectations of the current and potential clients.

To enable a more nimble and responsive sales driven process, contact me to book a 1-hour consultation to move your sales to the next level. The level that elevates your sales and marketing work into a money-making machine.