James Bond and Q -or- Sales and Marketing

The first movie I can recall seeing in a theatre was the 1971 James Bond 007 film, Diamonds Are Forever.  Yes, at the tender age of six, I became a fan of James Bond movies.   I was too young at the time to appreciate James for his prowess, his daring, his panache.  What I loved about Bond films were the gadgets.  Those wondrous and often deadly devices included:  the rocket-launching leg cast, the Rolex buzz-saw watch, and the Aston Martin DB5 – nicely equipped with machine guns, smoke screen, and champagne chiller (I guess those flying corks really can be deadly.) There were scores of Bond gadgets and all of them were developed by James’ behind-the-scene partner:   the arrogant, condescending, yet lovable, Q. 

There was a perpetual tension between Q and Bond.  I think this was the result of each believing he was just a little more important to the success of the mission than the other.  Q brilliantly anticipated the traps Bond might encounter on his mission and developed the gizmo required to overcome them.  And James, with his cunning instincts, always knew exactly how to utilize those gadgets, complete the mission, and … get the girl.  It was a beautiful thing.  Despite this tension, James Bond and Q together made the perfect team.  There could have been no successful missions without the other’s contributions and James and Q were equally, although unadmittedly, aware of this.

I’ve observed a similar, but often much stronger, tension in businesses between the marketing department and the sales force: 

“I can’t believe what those morons just spent on that brochure!  We’re so overpriced already!”

“Those Neanderthals just don’t get it!  They’re not leveraging the tools!  All they know how to do is give everything away on price!”

Like James Bond and Q, Sales People and Marketing People are two quite different breeds.  I’ve been both, and from each vantage, I’ve observed that regardless of organizational size, tension between sales and marketing will exist.  That being said, managing the degree of this tension can determine a company’s success or failure.    Too little tensions begets subservient, organizational apathy.  Too much tension reveals departmental self-importance and fosters silo mentality.   Tension at either end of this spectrum can ultimately lead to a poor customer experience and a resultantly weak brand.

I’ve found that in the strongest organizations, Sales and Marketing work together like James Bond and Q: each secretly respectful of the value the other provides, each contributing from a position of strength, and each occasionally willing to offer some credit to the other for the success of the mission.

I think that unless both sides sit down and figure out that they are on the same side, the mission will be over, SPECTER will win, and the competition will get the girl … or at least the sale.