Are they Marketing or Selling?

February 3, 2017 || POSTED BY Chad Reischl || Managing your Sales Operations

Is a job discrepancy creating a crisis in accountability for your sales team?

In 2008 a major senior housing provider delivered a ‘role discrepancy exercise’ to her sales team at a national sales meeting.  (see blog:   Role Discrepancy for more details).

To summarize,  when she gave her sale people a survey asking them to describe their role within the company, AND asked the Executive Directors the same question, the discrepancy was significant.  As a matter of fact, this same survey has been given to thousands of sales people over 100’s of industries, and Senior Housing has grabbed the honors of displaying the biggest discrepancy ever recorded when DEI sampled 100’s of sales folks in the Senior Housing industry.

The exercise is simple.  Give the following survey to each sales person and each ED or administrator. Ask both groups to fill in their portion of the grid.  Sales will fill in the ‘1’s” and management the ‘’2’s”.

1. Team member’s view of team member’s role.

2. Manager’s view of team member’s role.

1. Team member’s view of team member’s role.

2. Manager’s view of team member’s role.

And here are the results when the participants were asked to give 5 bulleted answers to the first two columns.

1. Team member’s view of team member’s role. (What sales believes their job to be.)

  • 12% Selling Activities
  • 58% Non-selling Activities
  • 30% Data Management

2. Manager’s view of team member’s role.
(What manager’s believe their sales people are actually doing.)

  • 68% Selling Activities
  • 21% Non-selling Activities
  • 11% Data Management

RESULTS:  The surveys consisted of answers like:

SALES:  I spend a lot of time with residents, managing issues and developing these relationships;  managing and setting up for events;  conducting tours;  keeping the model apartments looking good; ‘cookie drops’ at referral sources’ offices;  hosting luncheons; developing relationships;  entering data into the CRM; filling in when someone doesn’t show up for work; attending chamber events.

MANAGEMENT:  management says that their sales people spend the majority of their time setting appointments, following up Internet leads, conducting tours and getting move ins.  They spend some time marketing to referral sources and keeping data updated in our systems.

Interpreting the data:

There is a very telling story here.  By virtue of how much time is devoted to the various activities within the categories, sales people spend only 12% of their time in actual sales activities such as scheduling tours, conducting follow-up meeting, setting appointments, conducting meetings with referral sources; and spending time on the phone with prospects.  In other words those face-to-face sales activities.  The MAJORITY of their day was spent in marketing and customer services tasks; AND they felt as though they were spending an inordinate amount of time on data entry.

Their EDs however, believe that their sales team was spending the majority of their time actually selling and getting move ins!  While some marketing, customer service and data management tasks were expected, it was the time spent on the basic function of selling that was grossly overestimated by their supervising managers.

This very discrepancy is the reason we begin each management training session laying out the activities and objectives of both marketing and sales, reminding them that the objective of the selling function is a sale, or move in.  And we get very clear on what selling activities are and the workflow of a successful sales effort.


Do you want your sales people spending the majority of their time marketing and providing customer service OR do you want them spending their time doing those things that directly impact move ins, sales?    However you wish to define their role just make sure that everyone is on the same page so that your organization does not suffer the problems that inevitably come up whenever there is a ROLE DISCREPANCY between managers and staff.