It took me a few years to learn this, but I know it's true:

The difference between editors and sales people is that the former say "no" while the latter say "yes."
Editors say:
No. We are not going to run your press release as is.
No. We are not going to allow you to approve the story.
No. We are not going to quote you just because you're an advertiser.
No. We are not going to write about that topic because it's irrelevant to our audience.

Sales people say:
Yes. We'll put your ad far forward opposite editorial.
Yes. We'll accept your ad after the close.
Yes. We'll go off the rate card, give you the agency discount and throw in the value-add to boot.

Sales people, paid on commission, have to make things happen for their clients. They are all about saying yes. I have no quarrel with that.

Editors, on the other hand, are often put in the position of saying no. A lot. They say no to their own staff, to public relations people, to readers, and to sales people (their co-workers).

Editors have to make choices.
That's editing. They have fewer pages to work with (typically 25% to 40% of the total folio). As a result they have to decide which articles to assign and how long those articles will be.

Editors are keepers of the magazine's soul and reputation. They are the readers' advocate. Editors don't gloss over bad news. Readers know the difference between an honestly written story and a puff piece.

This is not to say that editors and sales people can't work together. They do. We all clash at times. But we all want the same thing—a respected magazine. Readers want it for the articles, advertisers want it for the readership.

Keep that in mind. Sales people aren't the bad guys just because they are looking out for their clients. Neither are editors obstructionists when they say no. They are looking out for the magazine.

I originally published this essay at FOLIO:MediaPro.