Many people don’t understand the difference between marketing and sales — even worse many don’t understand the relationship between the two. The Sales Department can’t really succeed without a well-focused and well-executed marketing strategy. And those responsible for the marketing effort can’t develop the best strategy without input from the sales function.
I like to think of the two the same way I think about a sports team. The marketing people are like the coach and the sales people are like the athletes. A coach comes to the team with lots of experience, usually a proven track record and knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. Of course all that history is with different athletes and in a different organization. The marketing manager usually has the same credentials and he or she must utilize that history to help make different products and different people in a different organization successful.
After evaluating what they have to work with good coaches and good marketing managers can devise a strategy that stands a reasonable chance of success. But both need input from the men and women actually doing the face-to-face work in order to improve the strategy. Think about the similarity of these comments and how the information each gives to the coach or the marketing manager can be effectively used.
“The guy can’t guard me, he’s too slow.”
“Our competitor takes too long to ship.”
“When he throws a curve, he always stands on the left side of the rubber.”
“They are always trying to collect their money in as fast as possible.”
I remember listening to the new Vice President of Sales and Marketing soon after he was given the responsibility for a new division of Johnson & Johnson.
“We need to share information about what’s happening n the field and what we are planning to do in marketing. There should be a senior person from the sales group at every marketing meeting and a senior person from the marketing group at every sales meeting. Copies of every sales person’s call sheets should be given to the marketing group as soon as possible. Help each other succeed.”
Now how many times have we all read about the team talking behind the coach’s back or the coach tearing into an athlete? Too many times by my way of thinking. And the scene always opens on a team that is in trouble and it most often ends with people being moved out.
In your career as a business owner you will be confronted with decisions about the marketing strategy, the plan, and its implementation. You will also have to deal with poor performance from the sales department. As you listen to what everybody is saying you will have to sort out the facts from the fiction. Doing so will not be easy. — especially if you don’t have actual selling or marketing experience.
To make better decisions, I suggest that you get directly involved. Go on sales calls or listen to sales solicitations. Call a competitor and pretend to be a prospect, listen and see how you are treated. Ask your people to comment on what you saw and heard.
Try to figure out what your competitor’s marketing strategy is, what their plan might be and how they are trying to implement it. Ask your people to comment on why your competitor would be doing that, why it might work or why it might not.
Nothing beats first-hand knowledge. You will quickly see how well people know what they are supposed to do, how effective they are at doing their work, and how responsive they are to questions. The lifeblood of any business is the revenue that comes from effective marketing and successful sales. If it isn’t happening in your business you have to find out why.
If you still can’t reach a decision about a person’s effectiveness or a plan’s probability of success, spend some money on consultants who can offer a more seasoned look at both. Remember these professionals sell their time so be sure you frame the task well. You want specific responses and that requires asking specific questions.
As you work through difficult times at your business remember to keep the bonds between marketing and sales as strong as possible.
Entrepreneurs Know the Difference Between Marketing and Sales — number eighteen in a series taken from: How to Evaluate and Profit from a Business Opportunity – The Entrepreneur’s Guide
About the Author:
Art Consoli held eight corporate positions with Johnson & Johnson before starting his first business. He went on to build over twenty businesses from patents or ideas or from businesses others couldn’t make successful. These ranged from starting a veterinarian drug company to taking over a steel fabricating company to developing the first manufactured home subdivision to qualify for every private and government assisted mortgage program in Arizona. He also did ten workouts for lenders and owners; the last was a $30 million, 300 employee, precision parts manufacturing plant that made parts for the auto industry.
Consoli’s unique background and skills allow him to speak and write about how someone with limited experience can do a self-evaluation which will let him decide which business opportunity is best, how to evaluate opportunities and gain control over the one which offers the greatest potential and then manage that business to success. Readers of his book call and write to tell him how much his book has helped their lives and improved their business.
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