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The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

Nancy Lewendon

Sales and marketing often get lumped together, and although many people use the terms interchangeably, there is a subtle difference. Most of the confusion comes from the fact that sales activities and marketing efforts often look similar. While marketing doesn’t equal sales, the two of them do work together. Understanding the difference between sales and marketing can help you integrate them better to achieve your company’s revenue goals.

What is Marketing?

Simply put, marketing is the process of getting people interested in your product/services through various strategies. It involves researching and analysing customer requirements, to determine the likes and dislikes of customers and satisfying them with the desired product or service.

Marketing teams dedicate various resources towards generating attention, developing a brand identity and/or improving a brand image. The aim of which is to create leads for your sales funnel, so that your sales team can follow up with them and convert them into paying customers.

Types of Marketing

Outbound marketing involves grabbing attention by using ‘disruptive techniques’. Some of the most common forms of outbound marketing include television ads, billboards, direct mail and magazine ads.

Inbound marketing involves providing marketing content to entertain, educate and inspire your customers. The goal of which is to bring people to you via search engines and social networking sites and includes content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing and search engine optimisation.

So, what is Sales?

Sales refers to the exchange of goods and services in return for money. It involves reaching out to and convincing potential customers to buy from your company and/or invest in you in some way. The leads that your sales team are working on, may have come through your marketing activities – for example via a direct message on LinkedIn.

Some common sales generation methods include making cold calls, holding one-on-one meeting with business decision makers, participating in trade fairs/promotional events and cross selling.

Sales and marketing is like a game of golf!

Types of sales

Inbound sales is where the client or customer comes to an organisation to buy a product. They’ve done this by researching the product or service a business offers and decided to purchase.

With outbound sales, a business needs to actively reach out to prospects, schedule meetings, pitch and of course convert that client to a sale. For example, if your organisation completes door-to-door sales activities to sell a product or get donations, that’s outbound sales.

The difference between sales and marketing

To use an analogy from the amazing Alison Edgar MBE, sales and marketing is like a game of golf!

Your marketeers will put the tee in the ground, add the ball, get it to the green and as close to the hole as physically possible. The sales team then tap the ball into that hole – converting the sale!

Essentially, the marketing for your business is doing most of the leg word for the sales team, they’re working on:

  • Research: Study the market and your potential customers.
  • Segment: Divide your customers into different segments based on their characteristics.
  • Strategy: Build a marketing strategy for each segment you want to target.
  • Position: Define the distinguishing features of your product and highlight them in your marketing campaigns.
  • Campaign: Create and run marketing campaigns.
  • Performance: Measure the performance of your marketing campaigns.
  • Fine-tune: Modify and fine-tune your marketing campaigns based on their performance.

How do they work together

We’re not diminishing the work or the skills needed to be a great salesperson! But in today’s world, there is a lot that can be done with amazing marketing. Look at Amazon – they don’t have salespeople. Their business has grown on the most part, from their marketing efforts.

With that, here’s some of what your sales team will be working on:

  • Prospecting: Create a list of target customers and perform preliminary research on them.
  • Connecting: Connect with your prospects, often through cold emails or phone calls.
  • Qualifying: Qualify your leads based on their response, need and readiness to buy a product.
  • Approaching: Schedule an appointment and meet the qualified leads.
  • Product demonstration: Showcase the product and explain its features and benefits.
  • Objection handling: Listen to your prospects’ objections, understand their perspective and address their concern.
  • Closing a sale: Negotiate the price, create a proposal and close a deal.
  • Onboarding: Deliver the product and help the customers get started with it.
  • Following up: Support customers with after-sales service, retain them and turn them into repeat buyers.

Despite their differences, sales and marketing efforts work best when they work together. Marketing should “warm up the customer” before reaching the sales team who will take over and convert them from a lead into a customer.

Marketing should make the sales team’s job of increasing the number conversions much easier. “Cold Leads” are more difficult to convert than “hot leads”. If the marketing team has been able to influence a potential customer already, it will be much easier for the sales team to convert them.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Sales teams usually spend a significant amount of time interacting with potential customers, learning what challenges they face and what they want/need from a product/service. Sales should provide this insight to the marketing team, who can then create tailored strategies to target these points.

What if you are investing in marketing but sales aren’t happening?

If you’re committing to putting 10% of your turnover into your marketing efforts and you’re happy with the work they are producing but you’re still not receiving sales, then you need to consider the 4 Ps of the marketing mix:

  • Price – Is your product too expensive for your target audience? Your product’s price must be linked to its real and perceived value, while also considering supply costs, seasonal discounts, competitors’ prices and retail mark-up. If you’re charging too much in comparison to its value or what your competitors are charging, then buyers will go elsewhere.
  • Place – This is thinking about where your product should be available- in brick-and-mortar stores and online, and how it will be displayed. For example, if you have a high value/luxury product, you might consider placing your product only in certain stores. Perhaps it’s available in Waitrose but it’s not available Aldi.
  • Promotion – The goal of promotion is to let potential buyers know that they need your product. It involves advertising, public relations and an overall media strategy. Are you promoting your product in the best way to reach your target audience?
  • Product – Is your service or product something that will satisfy customer wants and needs? Have you identified what makes it different from competitors?

Sales and marketing are always changing. So, it’s important to take time to analyse your approach to check whether it’s still working or make changes should they need to be made. One way of selling might have worked great for a while, but if you’re starting to see sales decline then perhaps it’s time to mix things up a bit!

What if you are investing in marketing but sales aren’t happening?

While sales and marketing are both require continuous efforts, marketing is the start of the process and sales is the end. During the buyer journey, marketing efforts push the customer towards a service or product and sales complete the journey, ideally by securing the sale!

If you’re ready to take the next step, you might be wondering when to outsource your marketing? We’ve pulled together a blog that will help you work out if you’re ready! If you still have questions – get in touch with us on social media, we’re @NlySocial on all platforms

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