We all want sales. It doesn't matter what you are selling, be it a service or product, every business wants to sell more. The question is, "how do you sell more?" I was recently talking with a friend who said that she believes most business owners don't understand the difference between marketing and sales. Thus, this blog post was born!
The marriage between marketing and sales is just that, "a combination or mixture of two or more elements". (Dictionary.com) One cannot exist without the other, a lesson which has been hard-learned by many failed businesses. When sales drop, owners often think they need to try harder to sell. While sometimes this is the case, usually they need to step back and look at their marketing strategy. After all, people can't buy a product or service if they don't know it exists.
According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is "the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large." (ama.org, 2017) This means everything from packaging, pricing, advertising, supply chain management, fiscal management, customer service experience, website management and design, social media, and more, comprise marketing.
WOW! That may seem daunting! The key to marketing is to know your "why" (a la Simon Sinek). Why are you producing the product? For whom? How will you get it to them? How will they know it is the solution to their need? Communicating all of this information is marketing and it requires a careful strategy to reach the right prospective customers. Marketing is often thought of as being expensive, until you accept the reality that you cannot sell without it. Also, with an effective strategy, marketing expense can be easily managed.
So if marketing is so all-encompassing, we need to also clearly define sales. A sale is "the exchange of a commodity for money; the action of selling something." (Dictionary.com) That's it. Sales is the transaction. It's the exchange of money for goods or services, or in the case of bartering, goods or services in-kind. It's that simple.
What about that marriage?
So, when sales drop, often owners push sales people to sell more. Do we ask them to close sales at a higher rate? Not usually, unless they are under the average for your industry. We typically ask them to find more customers.... which is marketing! A question to ask yourself as an owner is whether or not you are responsible for marketing, rather than your SALES people. There is no right answer here, however it plays into your business and compensation structure. If you are 100% commission, your sales people should be selling with 100% of their time. If you are base + commission, then if you want to share the load of marketing, that is logical and fair.
Ultimately, happy employees are compensated for what they are doing. Unhappy, disgruntled staff members become so when they are regularly required to do something outside of their job description, especially if they aren't being compensated for it. Many sales departments see high turnover for this reason. People wo are commission driven don't want to market, and often aren't very good at it. There's no extrinsic motivation for them to drive the marketing machine. They want to sell, and you want them to sell too.
Could your business make more if you handled marketing, or paid a marketer to do so, and allowed the sales team to focus on selling? If so, you need a marketing strategy that's easy to manage as a business owner. That's where a business consultant or marketing firm comes in. You can bring in a professional to do the strategy and execute the plan yourself. Or you can fully hire out the marketing aspect of your business. Either way, ignoring this decision hurts your business, your staff members, and ultimately yourself. As we approach the end of 2020, consider being prepared to launch a new strategy. You, your business, staff, and customers all deserve it!