General Motors: Marketing Should Report to Sales

Last Updated Apr 24, 2010 6:56 AM EDT

B-school dogma is that Sales is the tactical arm of Marketing and therefore should report to Marketing. However, there's growing evidence that putting Marketing under Sales is a more effective strategy.

For example, GM recently announced that it's likely to make a profit this year. Interestingly, as one of his first acts as chairman, GM's new leader, Ed Whitacre, assigned responsibility for marketing to the company's North American sales chief, effectively turning GM's marketing group into a tactical arm of the sales group.

"I believe that marketing and sales should be together in an organization and not separate," Whitacre said to investors at the time. "It's about market strategy. It's about advertising. And it's about selling. Those are pretty much inseparable and should, I believe, report in one organization."

Along those lines, I've noticed that in many high tech firms, marketing groups are focusing on tactical sales issues, like lead generation, rather than on so-called "strategic" issues like branding. Many marketing groups are now compensated based upon how many of those leads convert to opportunities and customers.

It seems to me that this arrangement makes a great deal of sense, but I'm interested in what you guy think. Here's a poll, but feel free to leave a comment.