In today's competitive business environment, understanding whether your company is sales-strong or marketing-strong is crucial. If your company leans more on sales than it does marketing, or vice versa, you’ll get no shade from us. We understand the tension that exists. It’s not uncommon for there to be a natural bent towards one or the other. The most important thing is knowing which strength you and your team tend to rely on so that you can pursue greater balance. Because the reality is, you need both.

Building a brand that breaks through the noise, returns value to shareholders and gains market share comes down to finding that sweet spot where both sales and marketing can flourish. Because when you deprioritize either, you put the health of your company at risk.

Unpacking the Concepts

A prominent example of a sales-strong company is Oracle. Known for its software and technology solutions, Oracle has built its reputation and business largely on the strength of its sales force. The company's approach has traditionally been focused on direct sales, with a strong emphasis on building and maintaining customer relationships, understanding customer needs, and offering tailored solutions. Sales-strong businesses like Oracle thrive on direct customer interactions and closing deals.

Apple stands out as a quintessential example of a marketing-strong company. While they have great products, Apple's success is tied to its ingenious marketing strategies. Their approach is centered around creating a strong brand narrative, newsworthy product launches, and compelling advertising campaigns, all of which resonate deeply with consumers. Marketing-strong companies like Apple are experts at creating a compelling story that connects with their target audience, enhances brand loyalty, and sets the stage for long-term market dominance.

What is noteworthy about Oracle and Apple is that while they continue to lean heavily on their strengths, both companies have shown a remarkable ability to adapt and evolve over time. The rise of Oracle’s cloud-based solutions required a marketing strategy built for a digital age. And Apple surprised everyone when they opened their first Apple Store, but this direct-to-consumer approach has been instrumental in deepening their relationship with customers. These shifts highlight a critical lesson for any business: success is not just about playing to your strengths, but also about recognizing and adapting to changing market conditions.

Strategic Considerations for Business Leaders

As a leader, one of your first tasks is to align your company's vision with its operational strengths. This involves critically evaluating whether your current focus on sales or marketing aligns with your long-term business goals. If your company is sales-strong like Oracle, consider how marketing could enhance your brand reach. Conversely, if you resonate more with Apple's marketing prowess, assess how a stronger sales strategy could amplify your market penetration. 

Now more than ever, adaptability is key. Encourage a culture where sales and marketing teams work together, not in silos. This cross-functional collaboration can lead to innovative strategies, ensuring your business stays ahead of market trends and customer expectations. Building a balanced team with expertise in both sales and marketing and investing in training programs that enhance the skills of your team in both areas will give your business several advantages, not the least of which will be your ability to adapt to an ever-changing business environment.

The biggest mistake we see is well-intentioned leaders with a sales- or marketing-strong orientation who confuse the two disciplines, or think because they are strong in sales or strong in marketing, they don’t need to spend time or resources developing the complementary strength. Our recommendation would be to avoid this trap at all costs. Your business will only benefit from your decision to invest in both revenue-generating disciplines. 

Achieving a balance between sales and marketing is an ongoing, dynamic process. As a leader, your role is pivotal, because you’re the one tasked with orchestrating the dance between these two critical business functions. Remember, the goal is not to diminish the importance of one strength over the other, but to prioritize both in a way that propels your company forward, ensuring sustainable growth and a strong, resilient market presence. By paying attention to sales and marketing, you set the stage for your organization to thrive.

The Big Question

So, how would you describe your company: sales-strong, marketing-strong, or a good balance of both? Getting clear on your dominant strength and how it is currently shaping your culture is an important step, one you can’t afford to overlook.

Key Takeaways

  • Determine if your company is more sales-strong like Oracle or marketing-strong like Apple. It's important to know which one you lean on the most, so that you can sharpen your focus on the balanced development of both disciplines. 

  • If you're sales-strong, think about how better marketing can help you reach more people. If you're marketing-strong, consider how stronger sales strategies can help you sell more products or services.

  • Adaptability is crucial in today's business environment. Promote a collaborative culture where sales and marketing teams work together, not in silos. This keeps your business in tune with market trends and customer expectations.

  • It's a mistake to think that being good at sales means you don't need to focus on marketing, and vice versa. Investing in both disciplines is crucial, and your business will perform better if you do.

At Bark Communications, we specialize in helping businesses develop strategies and solutions that drive sustainable growth. Whether you're looking to boost sales or create a more effective marketing strategy, our team of experts is here to help.

Brian Klassen President

Brian has worked with many national and international advertising agencies spanning a number of market sectors, including agriculture, not-for-profits, associations, sports & entertainment, and finance.

Tom Ward
Tom Ward Communications Consultant

Tom has twenty-five years’ experience helping organizations reach their goals through strategic planning, fundraising, marketing, and communications.