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Why Thinking About Marketing And Sales Together Will Make You A Better Manager

Marketing and sales are traditionally viewed as separate, or even in competition with each other; understanding both, however, is the key to professional success in either industry

Imagine you are trying to sell an apple.

Marketing will tell you the story about the apple, about how it was picked, and how it came to be where it is today. The apple’s identity is as important as the apple itself.

Sales, meanwhile, will get you the highest price for the apple, and will make sure that the customer keeps come back to buy more apples.

Marketing and sales, although standing side-by-side, have historically pitched against each other. The word ‘smarketing’ refers to sales and marketing teams that are perfectly aligned—a rarity rather than a reality for most organizations.

“Their functions have developed in different directions, but [marketing and sales] need to work together towards a common goal—delighting your customer,” emphasizes Dr Barbara Stottinger, dean of WU Executive Academy.

This philosophy is central to the Professional MBA in marketing and sales, bringing together professionals to teach the two different practices as one, in the aim of creating more efficient departments in both.

Experience from both backgrounds

Working as a brand manager at consumer goods giant Kraft, Dmitry Osokin (pictured) was well aware of the internal struggle between marketing and sales in a large-scale organization.


“Both parts are crucial to commercialized products and service, yet do not always work together,” Dmitry remembers.

Looking for a top business school in the German-speaking world, WU Executive Academy jumped out, and their Professional MBA instantly piqued his interest.

“I knew I wanted to specialize in sales and marketing going forward, and the professional program was a much better fit since I already had a business background,” Dmitry notes.

While Dmitry hailed from a marketing background, the program consists of a healthy mix of professionals to ensure balance in the classroom.

The spirit of innovation

Part of the shared learning environment includes a heavy emphasis on group learning. The workshops are facilitated to allow students to bring together their knowledge and discuss it critically as a group.

This is important in a curricular sense, but also in facilitating human understanding between the two opposing groups.

“Professionals have to be able to understand each other not only theoretically, but also on a personal level,” Barbara stresses.

Taking this into account, it is crucial to give both disciplines equal footing, in group discussions and the curriculum.

Modules like personal selling performance gives students an understanding of external communication through both marketing and sales perspectives, while marketing financials involves assessment of success metrics for both disciplines.

Barbara also underlines the importance of “the spirit of innovation” which characterizes the course. While the fundamentals of marketing and sales are the same, the technology has developed hugely.

“The mindset hasn’t changed, it’s the tools that have changed,” Barbara sums up.

Part of this innovation is an international residency in Silicon Valley, where students get the opportunity to meet professionals at the cutting edge of innovation, encouraging them to embrace an entrepreneurial mindset which can be applied to marketing and sales.

"Challenging, but manageable"

The ‘professional’ aspect of the name is of equal importance, with most students studying alongside a full-time job. This is significant, since for over two-thirds of prospective students, uncertainty over job prospects will impact their decision for choosing to study an MBA.

For Dmitry, not only did this avoid the risk of sacrificing his role at Kraft, studying the Professional MBA in Marketing and Sales actually propelled his career.

Students study between three days and a week no more than once a month, meaning that the program fits alongside a full-time job, rather than in its place.  The first year is focused on core business modules, while the second year is focused on the specialization.

“It is definitely challenging, but manageable if you are committed to it,” Dmitry advises.

For Dmitry, the extra effort paid off. Firstly, in his role at Kraft at the time, Dmitry was offered a promotion to move to Austria; then, subsequently, he landed a job at pharmaceutical giant Roche.

It wasn’t just to do with the MBA letters after his name. He noticed real results in the way he was working, which ultimately accelerated his career.

Now working as a business unit head at pharmaceutical company Takeda, Dmitry’s role overlooks both marketing and sales from a joint perspective.