What's the Difference Between Sales and Marketing?
Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions achieved 24% faster three-year revenue growth, 27% faster three-year profit growth and enjoyed 36% higher customer retention rates. [Sources: Sirius Decisions and MarketingProfs]
Where does marketing end and sales begin? It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, it’s a question many managers wrestle with. It's also one of the biggest obstacles to getting your sales and marketing efforts in alignment.
I've had a well-known, extremely knowledgeable consultant insist that sales is a function of marketing. I still don't buy it. I had a respected marketing veteran recently tell me with a pull marketing strategy, salespeople would become obsolete. Umm, nope — and I’ll tell you why in a minute. I once tried having marketing report to the VP of Sales. That didn't work out very well either. While he knew a lot about marketing, he was passionate about sales.
The fact is, sales and marketing are two very different disciplines — each with different skill sets — that need each other for success. Sort of like a quarterback and wide receiver in football, they are at their best when they are coached differently, but working together toward a common goal.
Here are five ways in which these functions are different, but vitally important for your revenue stream:
1. Marketing is all about us. Sales is all about them.
My friend and best selling author of Little Red Book of Selling Jeffrey Gitomer once told me — marketing is about our answers, sales is about their answers. Both functions need to provide answers to the prospect's questions, problems and desires to help her be better off tomorrow than she is today. They just do it differently. Marketing often uses words like "we" and "our," while sales must be answering the question "what's in it for me?" Marketing is: Our new weight loss program uses the latest advancements in modern science. Sales is: You'll look great and feel a lot more confident when you see your ex at the class reunion.
2. Marketing is public. Sales is personal.
In marketing, you have to be careful not to offend so as not to tarnish the image of your company. You never know who is eventually going to see or hear your message. In sales, if your prospect likes to swear or tell an off-color joke, you may be able to take greater liberties in getting through to them. Note: your boss might have other ideas and you should almost always be authentic in who you are. Marketing is: connecting your product with what they want to buy — and being consistent with your message. Sales is: connecting on a human level in a way that cannot be replicated by a computer program.
3. Marketing is about creating the dream. Sales is about making it a reality.
Marketing tells the story of the product and how it can help the prospect become what they aspire to be. Sales is all about getting the buyer to take action, so they can finally achieve those desires. Marketing is: We are ranked as the #1 product on the market today and can help you increase productivity by up to 30%. Sales is: if you buy this much and use it this way, you will increase your production by at least 30% and get your boss off your back (or line you up nicely for that management position you mentioned).
4. Marketing is a journey. Sales is the last mile.
Whether it's fiber optics, the power company or cable television, it takes a while to build out a network. But the hardest and most expensive part is usually "the last mile" that ultimately connects the service to the customer. Sounds a lot like marketing and sales! Marketing is: we now have ultra high-speed broadband internet in your area. Sales is: if you sign here, your kids can start enjoying it this Tuesday.
5. Marketing is about attracting a mate. Sales is about keeping one.
The power of attraction can get you a date, but success in sales is all about relationships. Salespeople need to be continuously providing value to the client so they become and STAY loyal. And if you want a long-term commitment, you'd better be good at asking questions! Marketing is: making her think, "He is so dreamy!" Sales is: making sure you don't become a nightmare.
And here's one more…
5+1. Marketing gives you a chance to win. Sales closes out the victory.
In baseball, a good pitcher keeps the game close. In hockey, a good goalie gives your team a chance to win. Just like marketing does. Don't let their effort go to waste by failing to put points on the board. And by points, I mean revenue. Marketing is: we've increased product inquiries from our website by 29% last quarter. Sales is: we converted those inquires to generate a 29% increase in revenue and beat corporate's goal.
Sales and marketing are BOTH absolutely critical to the success of a business. So if you’re having inter-departmental infighting, it’s time to call a time-out. Show me a B2B company that has only a good marketing effort or only a good sales team, and I'll show you a company that could be even better if they had both.
Start with a conversation over lunch or coffee about where marketing ends and sales begins. Map out the journey your typical customer takes when buying your type of product — and how each step is affected by marketing or sales. Then talk about how your departments can help each other achieve your common goals. You’ll get there faster, together.