Any business owner will tell you that Marketing and Sales are the engine rooms of your business. What most people struggle with is integrating Marketing, Sales, and Service.

I was recently working with a client who was struggling with this concept. I used an analogy from nature to help. In our coaching session, we were focused on Marketing and Sales. Once I asked them to think about it as a symbiotic relationship it clicked for him.

A symbiotic relationship is one where two organisms benefit from each other.

For example, the clownfish (Nemo) lives among the anemones: tentacled, coral-like creatures that sting their prey. Happily, the clownfish has a mucus on its skin that protects it from the sting of the anemone.

Things end unhappily for predators of the clownfish, however, when they approach, only to be stung and then eaten by the anemones. Ironically, when other fish see the clownfish swimming among the anemones they are attracted to do the same. The clownfish attracts food the anemone then eats. Both animals benefit from the relationship.

Marketing and Sales are much the same. The more we do successful marketing, the more we sell. You can think of marketing as anything you do to attract clients. Sales, on the other hand, is anything you do to convert prospects (the people you attract) into clients.

The more you do successful marketing, the more you can sell. The more you sell, the more you’re able to invest in marketing. The two things enjoy a virtuous loop.

There are many reasons marketing and sales may not work well together.

The first and perhaps most common is marketing that attracts the wrong clients. When this happens, salespeople spend their time in front of the wrong people. They waste time with people who don’t fit their ideal client profile.

On the other hand, when salespeople oversell or over-promise, marketing suffers. What most people miss is that marketing, sales, and client service actually form a triad. When you think of marketing and sales as being symbiotic (in a diad) you miss one third of the equation.

For example, we had a client whose sales and marketing team was exceeding their numbers. Their service team, however, was absolutely under-delivering. As a result, clients were returning to the sales team to complain. The more the sales team focused on complaints, the less time they had to sell. It was an absolute disaster. Marketing, Sales, and Service are a trio; they come together.

When you service well, you create client capital. You create the opportunity for clients to introduce, recommend, and refer new clients. We call the integration of your Marketing, Sales, and Service your Relationship Management System.

Too many people focus only on the symbiotic relationship between Marketing and Sales. I had a client who was very good at sales and who felt that she needed to deliver the service. When she focused on delivering service, though, she saw a decrease in sales. She was constantly cycling between a business with lots of revenue and one that was one the verge of collapse.

She saw Sales and Services as one and the same. It was not until she integrated Marketing, Sales, and Service that she was able to stabilize her revenue.

Most people ignore service, not realizing that the biggest opportunity lies in the ability to create a word-of-mouth strategy; a strategy where existing clients introduce, recommend, and refer new clients to you.

Symbiosis encourages you to think about Marketing and Sales. You need to think about the integration of all three components of Marketing, Sales, and Service.

If you want to learn more about how you can effectively uncover the areas of greatest potential in growing your business, head to our blog Business Plan: Defining Your Opportunity.