Comparing Marketing and Sales

Feb. 8, 2012
Do you notice how sales and marketing often get used interchangeably? Are these really the same function; or are they two separate and distinction functions?

Do you notice how sales and marketing often get used interchangeably? Are these really the same function; or are they two separate and distinction functions? Why is there all this confusion between these two disciplines? We often say sales and marketing when in fact, should say marketing and sales, as marketing must occur first in the process.

Both are important and necessary functions, but each is distinctly different in their respective role and their function. First let’s start by defining the two terms and talk about how they function. Part of the confusion comes from the fact that both disciplines have similar goals to increase company revenue and profits.

Marketing is very broad in scope and its focus is on long-term interests. Marketing creates demand when none exits, where demand exists, it uncovers customer needs. It helps manufacturers develop products, or service providers develop services that satisfies certain needs, and it determines the proper price point for a given product or service. It develops the strategy through which the company will reach customers, and it aligns that strategy with company goals. Marketing also generates awareness in the product or service using various tactics including websites, advertising, press releases, brochures and flyers, email marketing strategy and hundreds of other methods. Another marketing goal is to support the sales force and make the sales process as smooth as possible. Some definitions even include sales force management.

Dr. Peter Drucker the father of modern management said, “There will always, one can assume, be need for some selling, but the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

Generally, “sales” is narrow in scope and its focus is on relatively short-term goals. “Sales” in our industry is the face-to-face interaction with customers for the express purpose of persuading or influencing them to purchase your product or service and get a signed agreement. End of story. Some companies use sales people to gather marketing intelligence, thus blurring the lines between the two functions. The best use of sales people by a company is to sell its products and services. This’s where companies will get their greatest return on their investment in their sales force.

There are two schools of thought with regard to marketing and sales. In the marketing school, an organization that’s marketing driven focuses on listening to the voice of the customer and then uses that information to accommodate the target market. Marketing encourages two-way communication so it can understand the needs of the customer in order to improve product and service offerings.

In the sales school, in an organization that’s sales driven, the sales person does not spend a lot of time trying to ascertain the customers dream product because the salesperson can’t control how or if the company can or will modify its products or services. In addition, the salesperson does not receive compensation for spending time listening to the customer's wants unless he or she has a product that matches the customer’s needs and he or she closes the sale. At its core, the sales school focuses on selling products and services as fast as it can in order to meet goals, objectives, or quotas.

Disagreement among executives occurs between the two schools of thought because execs who subscribe to the marketing school believe the business must fulfill consumers' needs and desires first. They believe when the company meets those needs and desires it will than make higher profits. Whereas execs from the sales school want to sell products the business has already made as quickly as possible to meet sales objectives. The differences are subtle but can cause conflicts in the company’s go-to-market strategy.

As a dealer, you have the best of both worlds. You can take advantage of the marketing efforts for the brand to which you have allied your company, and build on that to market your own brand as well. Regardless of which school you subscribe to, marketing is important to growing your business. You can hire somebody to do it for your company, or outsource the job, but remember that you need both marketing and sales to be successful.

My website contains links to all the marketing articles I’ve written for the HVAC-Talk Newsletter. If you want your marketing efforts pay big dividends, contact a marketing professional. I’m available to assist you in all of your marketing efforts. If you need a branding consultation, a complete strategic marketing plan, help with lead generation, or reputation management services, call or send an email to discuss your needs.

Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, PR, social media, and lead generation strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by showing them how to do more with less($). Contact him at 260-338-4554, [email protected] or visit the Fracica Enterprises, Inc. website.