Can one person do both Marketing & Sales/Business-Development jobs?


Context: We are a small 3-developer company that sells Windows desktop software for small businesses on our website.

We believe that we need both:

"Marketing" - i.e. one-to-many interactions, e.g. developing more materials (case studies, etc.) and variants for our website, A/B testing them, driving Google AdWords and other online advertisements, experimenting with offline advertisements, experimenting with promotions (e.g. discounts, refer to friends, etc.), blogging, etc.

"Sales/Business-Development" - i.e. focusing on one-on-one interactions, e.g. forming relationships with resellers, forming relationships with channel partners (e.g. cross promotions), possibly working on large potential customers.

We recently hired (on probation) somebody with a background in the Sales/Business-Development area to a job where he works on both roles. So far, his performance on the Marketing front has been fairly weak. He seems to have been doing lots of high-level brainstorming but despite encouragement, rarely actually gets his hands dirty and implements them or drives them to a very concrete level (e.g. put this paragraph into the front page of the website).

Two questions:

  1. Is it realistic to expect a startup to be able to hire one person able to do both of these jobs well for under 6 figures? Or are the skill-sets so divergent that very few people can do both effectively?
  2. If we had to pick one to hire for, which one should we do? I would imagine that good marketing can probably drive revenue more, but also that geeky developers can plug marketing holes more effectively than sales holes.

Marketing Sales Hiring

asked Mar 5 '10 at 04:00
301 points
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4 Answers


Yes, you can find someone who can do both. I was in sales for 8 years before transitioning to marketing. I found my sales background a tremendous help to my marketing efforts.

That said, most of the marketers I worked with didn't have any sales background. Perhaps an overly simplistic answer but you need to pursue job candidates who have experience in both.

How easy or difficult to find, I don't know. But ultimately they're both about selling your product/service so it's not like accounting and marketing.

In terms of which discipline to lean towards would depend on the importance and efforts required in both areas. If marketing is going to provide the most significant value to your company and be the biggest contributor to success, I'd lean towards that. If the selling/business development is, I'd lean towards that.

If it's equal, I'd lean towards the marketing expertise. That's really the foundation everything's built on. The messaging, positioning, driving leads and demand, etc. If you don't do a good job of that it's harder to be successful on the sales/biz dev front.

Hope that helps,

answered Mar 5 '10 at 06:05
4,214 points


A talented person can definitely handle both sales AND marketing. In fact, having field sales experience will provide him the insights to be better at making marketing decisions.

To answer question (2), I'd go with sales. You are right, given the some learning and good marketing decision, developers can plug marketing holes indeed. On the other hand, biz dev and sales on the field gives you instant feedback and possibly immediate revenue (as opposed to long term investment into marketing).

answered Mar 5 '10 at 13:10
G Rex
683 points


Of course one person can do both -- just look at companies consisting of one or two people who do everything (including coding).

If you have to pick just one, I would ask about the sales process. The more of the following are true, the more you need salesmen; fewer means marketing probably has more effect:

  1. Long sales cycles (i.e. >90 days) from start to close
  2. Expensive buys
  3. Selling to process-heavy customers who need hand-holding through their own purchasing process
  4. 1-20 new customers per month (i.e. selling one-offs not bulk)
  5. Customers who like to talk to a human being to be comfortable with the purchase

These are only guidelines of course but might help frame the thought.

answered Mar 5 '10 at 13:51
16,231 points


I'd say no. I'd place the marketing person at a desk, while the biz dev person will be focusing on meetings (in-person, web or phone). The marketing person will be focusing on some Internet (hence the desk), as well as some collateral pieces. The biz dev person is hustling up prospects, shaking hands and making big deals. They're complementary roles, but each requires a certain focus and skill-set. I'm not saying that one person can't do both, but I'm definitely saying that two different people who communicate well with each other will make a cohesive team to get things done quickly and efficiently.

answered Dec 5 '10 at 15:55
315 points

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