Are sales and marketing mutually exclusive?
In a great deal of businesses nowadays, sales and marketing are seen as two different departments, consisting of vastly different sets of people. This occurs to such an extent that there is an abundance of stereotypes that come to mind when one thinks about a salesperson or a marketing professional. The classical salesman is perceived as the suave and tenacious (even annoying!) individual, whereas the marketing professional often has a more creative, colourful and mild character in comparison.
In the modern business world, with all the social exposure that comes along with it, wouldn’t you agree that these characters are not mutually exclusive in sales and marketing? In my opinion, businesses should quickly acknowledge the fact that sales and marketing can no longer be separated. Moreover, it should be recognised that blending the skillsets of both functions allows professionals within sales and marketing to reach and extend their full potential. Therefore, I advise, train your lacking skillset! To a certain extent, every salesperson is a marketeer and every marketeer is a salesperson.
A piece of advice from a top-tier entrepreneur
Many famous entrepreneurs and business icons are stressing more than ever to include personal branding and self-marketing in your sales game. For instance, bestselling author and arguably the world’s #1 sales trainer, Grant Cardone says: “Obscurity is a bigger problem than money” and, “You can’t get anywhere flying under the radar”. He challenges the average mindset of the majority to stand out from the crowd and to do the utmost to promote yourself and your business. He has made some tips available to efficiently give your sales game a lift-off, by using marketing techniques. These are 3 tips that I find universal and applicable to sales and marketing.
- People can’t engage with you if they don’t know you. While this may seem obvious, entrepreneurs easily forget the importance of making people aware of the activities that you are doing as a business. This is essential to acquire new prospects which you can then turn into new and returning customers.
- Providing Value (upfront). Helping people with problems that are relevant to them should be a priority as a business. This leads to positive association with the brand and could lead to new customers. It is about giving (value) without expectations. This is the process of building relationships and positive associations with your brand before you go into selling mode. This makes for a more pleasant experience for the customer and a better conversion rate as opposed to instantly trying to sell your product or service.
- You have to be noticeable. In the current day and age, we are constantly trading attention, and for that reason it is of significant importance to be able to connect with individuals. This allows you to separate yourself from of the crowd in a world where everyone is fighting to gain (and keep) your attention. The goal of this is to establish your brand as the premier choice when a need arises.
The (not-so) noticeable difference between sales and marketing:
The typical goal of marketing is to generate interest in the product/service and therefore create leads or prospects. This can be done through consumer research, product development, advertising and pricing.
The responsibility of the salesman however, is to focus on converting prospects into actual paying customers. Direct interaction is involved therefore unavoidable. A quote which I find very comprehensive is : “Marketing thus tends to focus on the general population, (a large set of people) whereas sales tends to focus on individuals or a small group of prospects.”
What can sales and marketing professionals learn from each other?
Even though marketing tools have become more penetrable and accessible, effective marketing is not only a numbers game. The actual value, relevance and timing of the message, however, do all matter! With the now overwhelming accessibility of tools, there has been a misunderstanding that successful marketing is solely a numbers game and that posting as much as possible on different social media platforms is the way forward. Of equal, if not greater importance however, is the content itself, who you are targeting and what you want to get out of it. While this sounds pretty straightforward, you often see that marketing managers design ads based on their own ideas, internal values or just a large set of people. This doesn’t consider the actual needs of the target audience, which is exactly where the skillset of the salesman comes in!
In sales we tend to focus on the speed of executing a sale. This goal, combined with the profession expanding its definition over time, has made for an environment where the targeted audience can be very resistant to sales people. This could be due to the fact that many unskilled salespeople have joined the workforce and still have a very raw approach. Marketeers do not often leave this aura, as they tend to use more subtle and creative approaches to reach their target audience. In many cases, people do not realise that what they were looking at was an advertisement and the intent was to sell a product/service. Approaching your targets in such a way that they do not know that the goal is to sell, is a skill that the majority of sales professionals should envy (and aim to add to their arsenal).
In conclusion, I believe that every sales and marketing professionals should try to gain as much knowledge of the profession in which they are not active in, so as to become as efficient and successful as possible. I would even venture as far as to say that sales and marketing should be blended into a hybrid role. What are your thoughts?