Sales and Marketing.
In most companies, you can’t discuss the fundamentals of successful business operation without them.
And in most organizations, we find that they are often mistaken for one another.
“Sales and Marketing” have been joined at the hip for so long that it’s easy to forget that they are two very different things. And when painting with a very broad brush, the can both be basically defined the same way: “getting people to buy stuff.”
Fair enough. But that sweeping definition not only involves sales and marketing, but can also include advertising, public relations, social media, packaging design, distribution, pricing, research, copywriting, and deciding which kind of toy to put in your box of Cracker Jacks. (Or, for younger generations, your Kinder Eggs.)
And one big disadvantage of this lack of distinction is the frequent lumping of both functions into one person’s job description. If you think there’s no operational difference between a “marketing guy” and a “sales gal,” then you might also think there is no difference between Coke and Pepsi.
The basic difference comes down to that dusty old homily, paraphrased as:
Marketing leads a horse to water, but it’s up to Sales to make him drink.
How would you describe your company’s current approach to sales? Aggressive? Strategic? Proactive? Or just waiting for the phone to ring?
A focused, structured sales philosophy takes the momentum created by Marketing and pursues the act of “Sealing the Deal,” in its many ways, shapes, and forms. Effective sales efforts are driven by individuals who possess—or can harness—certain personal characteristics: enthusiasm, communication, people-skills, and good organization.
While a skilled marketer can allow themselves to get lost in the details but still emerge with a well-considered, data-driven plan of attack, a sales rep does not have that luxury. He or she is on the front line, and while planning is absolutely essential, it is only the first half of the equation.
For example—you can’t pursue your target list until you’ve compiled a target list….ideally with a nice assist from Marketing.
And you can’t communicate with your targets effectively until you’ve found ways to reach them, and scheduled your outreach activities accordingly.
And your prospects can’t make a decision to buy from you until they know what separates you from the crowd—again, a message that should be baked into each and every one of your marketing materials and tools, but one that is ultimately up to YOU to communicate.
I’ve previously described how leadership and management can be described using a cross-country car trip, with leadership planning the vacation and management getting the car ready.
Sales and Marketing can be addressed similarly—Marketing can steer you in a direction and define your destination, and help map out stops along the way. But it’s ultimately Sales that’s driving the car, maintaining the right speed, and handling the details at those many stops.
So is it possible to do both? Well, if you’re a small shop and there’s only one person to handle them, it better be! While it’s not the ideal model, there are enough commonalities involved to allow a single position to pursue both of them with some degree of success.
Just make sure you develop separate strategies for each, even if they’re both being handled by the same person, to ensure that both Sales and Marketing get their due.
But if you are in a position to manage talent and oversee the functions of sales AND marketing, you need to know the difference, the tasks inherent in each, and, most importantly, the characteristics of successful performers in both fields.
Because, believe me, sometimes that horse can show up thirsty, and STILL not be ready to drink.
Cindy McGovern has been building, training and coaching high-performance sales teams for years and I’ve seen a little bit of everything! Over time, I saw many companies hire consultant after consultant while achieving marginal results. I wanted to change that, and we can—but it takes work on your behalf!
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