For many small to mid-sized companies, it’s no foregone conclusion that top management understands the differences between sales and marketing.
In fact, many such companies choose to mix those functions together into one category – sometimes purely out of necessity, and sometimes because they simply don’t know any better.
Not that such an approach is a huge mistake, especially for companies with less than 100 employees. But if your organization is any bigger than that, it may be a good time to review the basic differences between “sales” and “marketing.”
Here is a brief outline to get you started:
When we think of the responsibilities carried by salespeople, the first thing that comes to mind is the execution of face to face interaction with both existing customers and prospects. Taking that thinking a step further, sales also:
- Targets specific companies, individuals and groups over short periods of time in an effort to persuade those groups to buy the product.
- Identifies and overcomes objections.
- Builds business relationships.
- Closes sales.
- Attempts to convert customer demand to match existing product offerings.
- That last one is an important distinction. The sales department in any company generally has little or no authority in the area of changes to product offerings. Instead, the sales department is faced with trying to match whatever products exist in the company’s catalogue with what the market would like to buy.
Once we understand what “sales” is responsible for, it becomes easy to think of “marketing” as everything else that is done to promote the products and services of the business. Therefore, the marketing department takes care of the following:
- Targets large groups over longer periods of time and uncovers potential markets for the products and services being offered, as well identifying products and services that might meet the demands of markets not currently being pursued.
- Identifies and qualifies prospects (marketing focuses upon recognizing who should be called upon, and sales focuses upon executing the actual calls).
- Arms salespeople with promotional materials, such as a website, trade show and media presence, and promotional programs or campaigns.
- Assists sales in building relationships through analyzing feedback brought back by sales, and using it to develop recommendations about new programs and product offerings.
- Assists product development efforts by reshaping product offerings to align with customer demands.
Starting to see the difference?
If your company is among those that choose to lump sales and marketing responsibilities together, it might be time to consider treating marketing as the core business function it really is.
Otherwise, you may find that “marketing” becomes something that only gets done whenever a few minutes can be scavenged up once or twice a month. And handling marketing that way is indeed a big mistake, whether you’re a Fortune 500 firm or a one-man show.