Marketing is Not Sales
For many big companies, there will be a marketing department and a separate sales department. But in smaller businesses, the roles may merge and people wear more than one hat. However, this can lead to a confusion about the difference between the roles that means sometimes people think that a marketing expert is a sales expert. The truth is very different and here’s why.
The Role of the Marketing Department
Marketing is not sales – and here’s why -at the most basic level, the role of the marketing department or marketing specialist is about two things – the company brand and ways to generate leads that create customers. There are many paths that they take to reach this goal and to manage this brief.
For example, a marketing role might involve managing a prospect database. This is a list of people who may purchase from the company, be it services or a product. They will keep this database up to date, ensuring contact information is accurate and that people are still with the same company or in the same role.
As well as managing existing leads, marketers will formulate strategies to find new customers. These can be in any one of a huge list of ways from newsletters and email communications to promotions, competitions, social media events and even to old-fashioned phone calls or personal visits. They will often have a target of a certain number of leads generated each month – that are then passed to the sales department to handle.
Working on the brand of a company is an ongoing process that never really stops. From major rebranding exercises to subtle changes in the brand that better position it against its competitors, this is another area that the marketing expert excels at. Working on the company’s website and social media presences are often a key part of this as are the creation or publishing of a company blog – often the writing itself is done by a blogger or content writer under the guidance of the marketing expert.
A marketing expert will often have good knowledge of how the selling process works in order to best prepare the customers for the next stage of the process. They will know the wording that has the best effect, the approaches that will most likely move a lead to a customer. But their skills lie in the creation of marketing materials and processes, not the actual sales process – this is best left to the sales expert.
How Sales and Marketing Work Together
The confusion about the difference between sales and marketing is understandable but for a business to get the best from both of these experts, understanding sales and marketing difference is key. Essentially, the marketing department creates the business’ presence online and offline and through this, creates leads. These leads are maintained in various ways, often in a database. But the marketing expert doesn’t sell to these people – that is the job of the sales department.
The sales team or person is the one who takes that lead and builds it into a sale, a repeat customer and even a brand ambassador in some cases. The sales person uses an array of tools like the marketer but these are different tools and often involve a lot of interpersonal communication. The old saying about ‘people buying from people’ is still very accurate even in the internet age and that’s why sales people have to have exemplary communication skills.
In a sense, the two disciplines form a cycle. The marketing expert creates a presence for the business, say through a website. People visit the website and express interest in the product or service that the business offers. That lead is then filed into a database and passed to the sales expert. The sales expert contacts the lead and begins discussion their needs and requirements with the aim of making a sale. If no sale is made, the person might go back onto a warm lead database to be approached again in the future. Or they may go back to marketing to receive further approaches such as promotions, newsletters or blog posts that may help them become a customer.
Why Marketing is Not Sales
To get the best from a marketing expert or team, it is also important to understand what marketing is not, what the marketing expert does not do. It is important to see why marketing is not sales.
Marketing is not sales – these are two very different skills. A salesperson focuses on making the sale, securing the client or gaining commitment from the customer. While they will provide information to reach this aim, they are focused on the end result. The marketer is more about nurturing the lead, building a relationship and offering the customer something useful that helps them see the company in a positive light.
Marketing isn’t about being creative, it is about using information, acting on data and understanding the information you can access. There’s a little creativity to the role, such as creating ideas for promotions or content for a blog. But creativity is more useful to graphic designers and web designers than a marketing expert.
Marketing is also not customer service. While the role of the marketer will involve building a relationship, their aim is to pass that lead to the sales team. Once the sales team have made a sale, then the customer service team are available to handle any follow-up queries or problems. While the marketer will know the inside and outside of every product or service the company offers, they aren’t the people that deal with problems that come after the sale. Likewise, they are not product support, there to tell a customer how to use a product or deal with defective products.
Marketing might help with staff recruitment but they are not HR experts. They might be able to produce the materials needed to advertise a role within the company and sell the benefits of working for the business but they aren’t the ones who do the interviews or make the selection.
Finally, marketing is not about crisis management – that’s where PR experts come in. If the company finds it has a problem, such as a defective product or a faulty piece of software and there is negative publicity around it, don’t ask the marketing expert to deal with it. Instead, get a PR expert to look at the best course of action to restore the company’s reputation.
Difference between Sales and Marketing
Perhaps the best way to understand the sales and marketing difference in approach is to look at the mindset of the individuals involved.
For example, the goal of marketing is around positioning the business, aligning the brand within an industry or niche to make an impression on those potential customers and transform them into leads. But the goals of the sales team are simple – make sales. Their mindset is about the numbers – how many sales, how much profit.
The marketing state of mind is about the ongoing success of the business from the viewpoint of the marketing strategy. It is about evolving this strategy as needed to make the best use of resources. The sales state of mind is about using tried and tested strategies to reach set goals, usually on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Marketing knowledge is as changeable as the environment in which they work. The internet is the classic example – websites need to change, social media algorithms evolve constantly, new trends impact what competitors do. This means marketers are constantly learning new technical aspects to their job. Sales people tend to have a knowledge of sales and learn techniques and tactics on top of this that best suit their role or their aims. The core of sales remains largely unchanged.
While both departments are all about the business for whom they work, the sale team is often more customer focused. After all, they are the ones responsible for ‘selling’ the company and need to be the intermediary between the company and the customer. For the marketer, it is more about focusing on the company and making sure that everything is right for the business with a view from the customer.
In summary, marketing is said to be a ‘one to many’ strategies while sales are about ‘one on one’. For the best success, the two should work in harmony, fulfilling that cycle mentioned above and complementing the work that each other does to get the business to where it wants to be.
The role of the marketing department or expert is to look at the company from the viewpoint of the customer. Their job is to help look into the future and see where the company needs to go, directing the organisation towards customers and channels where the most profit can be made. The marketer also understands market trends and tools that can be used to create leads and build relationships. Their job is to aim the sales department or experts to where the customers are and how they should approach them then allows sales experts to do their thing.