18/04/2012 | Marketing
I’ve heard sales described as a craft while marketing is more of a science. Whilst I’d agree with both descriptions I think there is more to each of them than most people are willing to acknowledge. Proper value-based selling requires a strong understanding of behavioural science as well as skill in assessing and dealing with many different types of people. Successful marketers need flair and imagination not just market research and analytical abilities.
Whilst I am passionate about the importance of genuine sales and sales management abilities, I would also be the first to admit that marketing is the over-arching strategy that should define a business’s search for customers. Any sales department is simply one strand of the execution of that strategy that turns customers into revenue and one that could be supplemented by myriad other routes to market, some of which could ultimately render it redundant. It is not unheard of for us to recommend that a business does away with its face-to-face sales force where they add little if any value, and replace them with an alternative method of transacting with customers.
It is for this reason that we find ourselves more and more involved in our clients marketing departments, not just ensuring sufficient supplies of fuel for the ‘sales engine’ (leads, new products to offer etc.) but actually getting to grips with the essence of the brand and its impact on the environment that sales take place in for example. This takes us further into the types of communication employed and the messages therein and we have found that improvements here not only have a positive effect on the sales engine but can lead to a whole new, more cost-effective route to market being developed.
Ultimately our job is to help optimise a company’s growth plans, so although the most accurate answer (and the one you already knew) to the question posed in the heading, is ‘it depends,’ we also say ‘neither.’ A properly thought through marketing plan for any business that uses people to facilitate the buying process will also need an appropriate sales policy that sets out the parameters and KPIs by which they will be measured. Creating either one without the other will always net you less ‘bang for your buck’ than you could have had.
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