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Marketing vs Sales

In most corporations, the marketing and sales departments are rolled into one, or are at least closely-related departments. So for anyone outside the department, it’s easy to think of them as equivalent, and use them interchangeably.

And they are related concepts, no doubt. Sales is an important part of any marketing program, and good marketing is crucial to support sales. But they work very differently, and bring very different results. So let’s look at each of them.

Sales is like hunting

Sales is a short-term, goal-oriented process: you find a prospective customer, you track them down, and you persuade them to buy from you. Then you find another prospective customer.

And there are a lot of advantages of sales. Just like feeding yourself by hunting, there’s a chance you could come home with the good stuff tonight. Focusing your efforts on sales can get you results is a few days or a few weeks. Sales is also more customizable: you can ensure you’re meeting the needs of each client, each time.

And sales gets you objections. I know what you’re thinking: “Amanda, that’s not an advantage! I hate objections! It’s the worst part of sales!” But it’s actually an enormous opportunity. When a customer objects, they’re telling you exactly why they’re not buying — which means that you can fix it. To use the terminology we discussed in our intro to marketing, they’re telling you exactly where the gap is, so that you can build a bridge right there. There’s no other marketing method that gives you that ability.

So there are some great things about sales. But there are some downsides, too. Sales, like hunting, is high-intensity: you have to devote all your time to it until you meet your quota. And it’s a one-time benefit: you have to do it again and again every time you run low.

Marketing is like Agriculture

Marketing, on the other hand, is like feeding yourself by farming. It tends to produce steady results over the long term, and once you get it going it can be maintained with relatively little effort. If you get your habits set up, and do your marketing every day, it will start to bring in a steady, constant flow of prospects. And as you add marketing techniques to your daily activities, that steady flow will increase in volume.

But it won’t get you customers right away, any more than planting a garden today will get you a salad for dinner tonight. Marketing is a long-term, process-oriented activity: you do the same things every day, and eventually you start to see a few results, then more, then a nice, big harvest.

Like agriculture, marketing also has to be done consistently, with faith in the long-term benefits. So many small businesses plant their seeds, water thoroughly, and then give up in disgust just as the sprouts are coming up, saying “I’ve been doing this for two weeks, and I haven’t gotten a single customer from it!” Then a month later they start again, and give up two weeks later. It’s like a gardener who starts a new garden every month: they never get any tomatoes.

Marketing and sales work best in combination

Unlike hunting or gardening, though, marketing and sales can complement and reinforce each other. Marketing can get you more prospects than straight sales “pounding the pavement” would on its own. And sales can turn prospects into customers much faster than any other marketing technique. A small business owner who understands and uses both can grow fastest of all.