Ending the War Between Sales and Marketing – Day 212

Sunday 09:25, Old Bethnal Green Road

I recently came across a fascinating article in Harvard Business Review on the divide that exists between sales and marketing. The article, Ending the War Between Sales and Marketing, examines a variety of industries and identifies where your organisation sits in the alignment spectrum between these two crucial roles, and of course provides recommendations on how an organisation can close the gulf. If you’re in a sales or marketing role or just curious on how well your sales and marketing teams co-exist, take the first test and see whether your sales and marketing teams are undefined, defined, aligned or integrated. I did it for my previous employer and got defined, so lots of work to do there.

The topic touches on several organisational aspects and resonates strongly with me and my reason for embarking on this MBA program, that is, to better understand organisations and improve them in any way I can. As I’ve been in a commercial role for the last five years, closing the divide between sales and marketing is something that lies very close to my heart.

Throughout my career I have seen both sales and marketing teams working in silo and not understanding or wanting to understand each other’s needs. I’ve seen sales managers exceed targets with hardly any lead generation input from marketing, and I’ve also seen marketing embark on strategy and plans with no revenue impact whatsoever. However, when the sales and marketing functions work well and share a common strategy, the results have the potential to make a huge impact in an organisation’s operations.

This summer I’m hoping to write a mini-research project on this topic, but it seems not everyone is aware of this divide. The other week my old team took me for my leaving drinks and I mentioned to one of the sales guys what I had proposed to do my research on.

‘What war!?’, he exclaimed.

It was an interesting comment and it comes to show that if you’re not even aware of a particular challenge, then you have a long way to go before you’ve overcome it.

Here’s a link to the article:


Sales and marketing war

The Day Mr Brain Didn’t Need Mr Heart – Day 187

Wednesday 17:26, Old Bethnal Green Road, London

Having fully digested, processed and compartmentalised last week’s events (and of course, within 24 hours swiftly moved on), I thought it would be a good time to write a children’s story about said event (my redundancy).

I’ve always had a fascination about the human body and how it works. In a parallel universe I’d be writing a children’s book about the adventures of two kids inside the human body. Think Harry Potter meets Clinically Oriented Anatomy. And I’d probably name the main characters Ana and Tommy, for obvious reasons. But that is another story for another time.

Once upon a time in a country far, far away there was a brain called Mr Brain. Like so many other brains, Mr Brain lived and ruled over his kingdom with wisdom, intelligence and a lot of other brainy qualities that brains have. You see, the good thing about being a brain is that you do a lot of clever thinking. Things like problem-solving, strategy and ingenuity comes second nature, thanks to the millions of tiny and never-ending neurons, which synapse away with each other, transmitting electrical information at the speed of light.

As the kingdom’s ruler, Mr Brain had the ultimate responsibility for all state affairs, but be it as it may, he couldn’t really run the kingdom single-handedly, so he employed a diverse and talented group of highly placed officials.

Mr and Mrs Vessles took care of most of the transport, making sure everything that needed to go into the kingdom did so, as well as making sure everything that needed to go out of the kingdom did so too. They did this through a vast network of arterial roads and venous ways, which emptied into the river Lymph.

The twin brothers Ralph and Lincoln Lung were the principal gardeners of the kingdom and kept the bronchial forests clean and green, constantly planting new little bronchioles whenever and wherever needed.

Mrs Oral Cavity, who was one of the key gate keepers and also the Mayoress of the Upper Digestive County was responsible for import, and worked incessantly to process the food stuff and drink needed in the entire kingdom. But it was really Mrs Oral Cavity’s apprentice, young Ms Lip, who did most of the hard work, but this tended to go unnoticed.

And then of course there was Lord Rectum, also a gate keeper of sorts and the Mayor of the Lower Digestive County. Lord Rectum, or Mr Bummie as he was known to his dear friends, took care of the export part of the kingdom, and had been known to have taken the kingdom for ransom whenever he didn’t get his way on several occasions.

Despite being supported by this talented and hard-working group of highly placed officials, Mr Brain knew something was wrong. You see, Mr Brain was a mediocre tradesman, a renowned ruler and a legendary creator of things. So while he could continue to create things and rule, he needed someone in the kingdom to oversee the trade. He needed someone strong and passionate, who could rally the troops when needed and pump vigour and life into the kingdom.

In other words, he needed a heart.

But Mr Brain didn’t want any old heart, he wanted his dear friend Mr Heart, whom he had acquainted in his previous kingdom.

And one day fine day in the height of summer, Mr Heart moved to the very kingdom ruled by Mr Brain. Of course, this was no coincidence as Mr Brain had begged and pleaded for Mr Heart to come and join him and, in his own words, ‘run the kingdom together’. Mr Heart was incredibly flattered to have been asked by Mr Brain to come and join him and he promised himself to work tirelessly and with passion to help Mr Brain.

And so the summer days turned shorter and the Lung twins spent their afternoons sweeping the bronchial forests, clearing the forest floor for the first snowflakes to come falling down. But now that Mr Heart was on on-board, Ralph and Lincoln felt inexplicably rejuvenated and everyone in the kingdom could see a change in their demeanour.

And once the first snowflakes had fallen, Mr and Mrs Vessels worked tirelessly keeping the arterial roads of the north and venous ways of the south clear so the people of Mr Brain’s kingdom could go where they needed to go and do what they needed to do. Now that Mr Heart was on-board, the work keeping the roads and ways moving was such a joy and never before had the people of Mr Brain’s kingdom, nor Mr Brain himself, for that matter, seen Mr and Mrs Vessels so happy doing their work.

As the days became longer and the warmth of the Sun spread in the kingdom, spring finally arrived. And nobody loved spring more that Mrs Oral Cavity and Lord Rectum. You see, they had spent winter working with Mr Heart keeping the people of Mr Brain’s kingdom fed, with their bellies full of food and throats quenched of thirst. And as if by coincidence, since the arrival of Mr Heart, so many things in the kingdom had improved and it had made the normally harsh and cold winter so much more manageable for the gatekeepers of the Upper and Lower Digestive Counties. Even young Ms Lip rejoiced, as Mr Heart’s arrival had made a huge difference in her life.

And one fine spring morning Mr Brain took Mr Heart for a walk across the meadows of Mediastinum and alongside the river Lymph and thanked him for his hard work. And a sign of his gratitude Mr Brain gave Mr Heart a pay rise, which in Mr Brain’s kingdom consisted of coins so red that they could be mistaken for precious rubies.

‘Please, Mr Brain, let me give these red coins to Ms Lip, she has worked so hard this winter and has done an outstanding job’, Mr Heart suggested. ‘No, you deserve more red coins, Mr Heart’, Mr Brain explained. ‘Ms Lip will need to learn hard work and I feel she has been given enough red coins this season’.

As Mr Heart cared so much about Ms Lip – and all other highly placed officials and people in Mr Brain’s kingdom – he begged and pleaded to reward Ms Lip, but Mr Brain’s decision was final. He was, after all, the ruler of the kingdom, but he had very little heart in him. So Mr Heart accepted the red coins and was told to meet at the Brainstorm Room later.

But when Mr Heart arrived to the Brainstorm Room and sat down with Mr Brain his world would be turned upside-down in ways you can never really image, because you think these things will never happen to you.

‘I’m going to have to let you go’, Mr Brain said in a sad and dejected voice. ‘What!?’, exclaimed Mr Heart, whose own heart skipped a beat. ‘I’ve made a mistake and I no longer need a heart’, Mr Brain explained. ‘But who is going to run the trade of the kingdom?’, Mr Heart asked as the world opened beneath his feet. ‘I will run the trade and I will run it with great difficulty’, Mr Brain said. ‘But what about everything I’ve done with the Lung twins? And Mrs Oral Cavity and Ms Lip? And Lord Rectum? We’ve finally got him over to our side!’. ‘I’m so sorry Mr Heart’, Mr Brain said, ‘but I’m running out of red coins. I thought we were going to be swimming in red coins by this time, but it’s simply taking longer than expected’.

It was a cheerless conversation, for both Mr Brain, but especially for Mr Heart. Never in a million years did he think that he would first be rewarded for his good work and then immediately told he was no longer needed. Confused, scared and upset, Mr Heart left the kingdom, without saying a word to the other highly placed officials. 

The day Mr Brain told Mr Heart he was no longer needed will be remembered in the kingdom. The news were broken to the other highly placed officials the next day, together with the even sadder news that Mr Brain didn’t need the county of Left Arm and that all inhabitants of Left Arm were also being asked to leave.

Wisdom and leadership cannot be taught. Some rulers might think they are good leaders, but this is not always the case. Mr Heart thought Mr Brain was a good ruler, but regrettably he was wrong.

Mr Heart, who is now looking to join his next kingdom, often thinks about how Mr Brain’s kingdom is fairing, with no Left Arm and no Heart. And of course, this story became the topic of endless conversations in other kingdoms by other people.

‘Mr Heart, yesterday night I thought about what you said and felt so mad’, exclaimed Mr Heart’s dear friend Mr Maker. ‘If you need me to go and set fire to your office  I can, no problem’. ‘I appreciate your concern, but there really is no need for arson!’, Mr Heart laughed.’I was pretty mad too, at least as mad as hearts can get, but I’ve had a whole week to process it’, Mr Heart explained. ‘If you say so’, Mr Maker said, shrugging his shoulders as if determined for revenge. ‘I could put the severed head of a horse at the entrance?’, Mr Maker said. Clearly joking, Mr Heart said that that would do. You see, Mr Maker comes from a kingdom from the far south where people have even bigger hearts than Mr Heart himself. ‘I’m sure the people of Mr Brain’d kingdom to do well, they all deserve to do well’, Mr Heart explained. ‘And I cannot wish them anything bad, because well, I have a heart’.

Heart and Brain