Seven differences between sales and marketing

If any business is going to thrive in the 21st century it’s vital that we all have a clear understanding of how Sales and Marketing can work effectively together in our businesses. For too long, there have been unfruitful turf wars between sales and marketing teams. For too long, too many people have been fooled into believing that ‘sales’ lives under marketing’s mandate. And for too long, too many people have been calling ‘selling’ marketing which it is not.

We need to redress these issues once and for all and properly define Sales and Marketing. So why have these disagreements and misconceptions been allowed to fester for so long?

Firstly it’s worth reviewing some of the findings from Peter Finkelstein’s 2012 Whitepaper, “Why Marketing as we know it is dead”:

‘According to an article in Harvard Business Review (August 2012) traditional marketing – i.e. advertising, public relations, branding and corporate SM 1communications – has failed. And we at Barrett concur. Traditional marketing (which has become little more than an expensive, very often valueless mass communications methodology) has failed. As far as mass communications is concerned not only has it failed, the Internet and social media have surpassed anything the conventional marketing professionals have to offer. Marketing has been at death’s door for well over a decade. It’s just that marketing professionals don’t want to recognise the reality!

There are three pointers that prove this…

First, buyers are no longer paying much attention to marketing messages. Studies show that in the decision-making process traditional marketing communications techniques have very little credibility or relevance. Buyers are checking out product and service information in their own way, often through the Internet, links to business associates and through direct interaction with supplier organisations – many of whom communicate using smart-phone technology. And they are doing it in their own time, at little cost.

Secondly, in a devastating 2011 study[1] of 600 CEOs and decision-makers, around 73% (438) said that marketing officers (CMOs) lacked business credibility or the ability to generate sufficient business growth. Around 72% of respondents in the study indicated that they were tired of being asked for funds without being given any reassurance that the funds would generate incremental business. A significant group, 77% (462) are no longer interested in any talk about brand equity that can’t be directly linked to recognised financial metrics. That leaves only a handful of around 130 CEOs (21%) who are not necessarily dissatisfied, or satisfied with marketing‘s efforts.

The two key questions that need to be asked are…
•Why has marketing taken such a credibility beating?
•As important, why now is sales finally getting the professional recognition it really deserves?

Whilst over the decades of continually changing buying patterns and behaviours sales has made the necessary adjustments – from Snake Oil Selling in the 1890’s to the sophisticated Solutions Selling of the 21st Century – marketing has continued, in the face of the increasing change, to hang on to its outdated 1948model. And whilst the Internet is turning sales and marketing on their heads and rapidly changing the playing field – one click at a time – marketing is still struggling to make the move away from the old formula of Product, Price, Place and Promotion (i.e. the 4P’s) – developed by James Culliton. And though marketing has recognised the growing power of the Internet its practitioners have made the fatal error of trying to apply old models to new buying patterns. The result (as the Harvard article pointed out) is a disaster for marketing.

Thirdly, in today’s increasingly social media-infused environment, traditional marketing techniques not only don’t work, they make no sense. Trying to extend the 4 Ps to a world of social media simply misses the mark. Even FaceBook and Google can tell you all about it. It finds itself mired in an ongoing debate about whether marketing on either FaceBook or using Google Ads is as effective as it needs to be.

The reality is that the Internet, smart-phones and social media have changed the world of sales and marketing. The interesting thing is that both sales and marketing professionals saw the changes coming. Marketing did what it has traditionally done when under threat – resorted to a PR campaign to come up with “inspirational names” for doing the same old thing (e.g. relationship marketing, out-come focused branding, life-style communications and a myriad of other names used to disguise the use of the antiquated 4Ps model) in the hope that these would encourage people to believe marketing was up to the challenge.

Sales, on the other hand, has simply adapted the selling techniques to accommodate the avalanche that the Internet and social media represent in the way people buy. In turn this has bolstered the credibility of sales, at the same time as marketing are struggling to regain some vestige of credibility.

From a sales perspective, professional salespeople have learned that they needed to break the umbilical cord that has given them so much comfort in the past. It’s no longer up to marketing to generate leads for sales (which salespeople tend to decry as poor quality any way); it is no longer marketing’s role to create invitation lists to networking functions (that salespeople complain is not with the right people). Nor is it necessary for marketing to invest in expensive collateral and printed brochures that sales really only use as a crutch for a lack of product knowledge. Now these activities and many more are being performed jointly by effective sales and marketing teams. Teams that work collaboratively to engage with their buyers in a more holistic manner.’

So in a 21st century world what are some of the differences between Sales and Marketing?

Marketing is…
1.Marketing is one to many.
2.Marketing tells the stories (company, product, etc.) to many people.
3.Marketing looks after the brand’s reputation
4.Marketing needs to keep the stories circulating and resonating with the target markets using the company’s plumb line (the business of the business) as its central reference.
5.Marketing analyses the big data. Marketing brings you the average result not the specifics.
6.Marketing studies what experience customers expect when they buy or try a product, service or solution. That means reading their digital footprint and understanding their on-line chatter as much as it does focus group discussions. Marketing looks for new metrics about consumer clusters and grouping. On-line groups are markets of the near future as more and more people cocoon themselves and shop less
7.Marketing should not promote special prices and discounts, instead replace these with special offers, focusing on delivering greater value – more bang for the buck is the new mantra and greater value with fair exchange is the principle of pricing today – not cost plus as it has been in the past.

Sales is…
1.Sales is about one to one
2.Sales is where our business becomes real for the client. It is where the stories and brand come to life.
3.Sales develops relationships. It’s relationship driven
4.Sales looks after individuals.
5.Sales deals with the ambiguities and the details of each person. It cannot be averaged.
6.Sales analyses the behavior of the prospects and customers whom they deal with on an individual basis. Sales professionals talk to their customers about the joys of risk free offerings that help them realise their goals and objectives. They tap into their buyers’ Facebook, LinkedIn and other digital pages to gain a deeper understanding of what experiences each individual customers want.
7.Sales moves away from discussing price and discount, instead replacing these with discussions about total cost of ownership which includes price but extends to include deliveries, warranties, support, training and the other contributing things that are delivered as part of the purchase. Sale engages with customers to understand what risks they face when making a purchase and then learns how to position their companies as risk free alternatives.

The one thing Sales and Marketing must share in common is the company’s ‘plumb line’ and its stories. From many people to the individual, the central plumb line: the business of the business, needs to be consistent and help each customer connect in a meaningful and specific manner that is relevant to their situation and their view of the world.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Source:, 20 february 2014
By: Sue B
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