What is the Job of Marketing versus Sales?

When you approach your business's online presence, are you thinking like a marketer, or a sales person?

To the consumer, sales and marketing sound interchangeable. To those who balance the diverse needs of the sales and marketing departments, however, they are two different divisions with different goals, needs, and strategies. Both are valid, but it’s important to use the right tools for the job in front of you.

Let’s look at how sales and marketing compare.

Intent of Interaction

Brian Halligan has said that sales people used to need sharp elbows, but that in our modern economy, where customers often have access to all the same information that salespeople do, a sharp mind will win out every time.

Salespeople in the modern economy, therefore, have a reasonable assurance that the customer they’re speaking to probably wants to buy their product. They need to close the deal - of course - as well as answer any questions that the customer has, and make sure that the customer is satisfied with their interaction. Yet almost 60% of the time, the customer’s mind is made up regarding the product before they even speak to a sales rep.

Marketers, on the other hand, are the people who now find themselves pitching the product to the customer. They don’t have the benefits that salespeople enjoyed in the 90s, when each sale was a one-on-one interaction between the rep and the customer. Instead, modern marketers put information out into the world in the form of articles, blog posts, Facebook posts, and Tweets, doing their best to use keywords and hashtags to get their content in front of the right people. The sale is being made with every piece of content.

Marketers and salespeople both need to convince customers that the product in front of them is the solution to the customer’s problem. The salesperson starts from the point of view that product is the solution; the marketer, however, begins by defining the problem that the product will solve.

To make sure your content is focused on marketing instead of sales:

  • Always start from the problem. Show the customer that you understand what they’re facing, whether it’s lower than expected visits on a website, or a frying pan that doesn’t heat evenly.

  • Talk about why the problem matters. Low volume of website visit isn’t a problem because your company can recommend an SEO audit; it’s a problem because the website isn’t doing its job, and needs to be brought up to par.

  • Don’t push to close the sale. Customers hate a hard sell. Show them your product is the best, instead of telling them, and let them make the purchase on their own.

Want a sample of marketing versus sales? Customer education through content marketing is, without question, a concept created by marketers -- not sales people. While many blogs and articles include a boilerplate at the bottom encouraging customers to comment or contact for a quote, the focus of content marketing is on building a relationship with the audience. When the customer is ready to buy, they’ll be sure to go back to where they learned everything they know about the problem -- your blog.

Length of View

For a salesperson, their view is necessarily focused on the sale in front of them. With proper performance incentives, that can also include secondary focuses on customer retention, market share, and growing the company, but ultimately, the salesperson spends their day interacting, one-on-one, with customers who want to buy. They work to convince customers that the product they are selling will meet their needs.

Marketers are often on the flip side of that view. They may be launching content today that talks about a sale, promotion, or news event, but they often must keep their eyes focused on the long game, building towards the next product release or content update. They work to anticipate the market needs that are likely to arise, and have the necessary product ready when it does.

To keep your content balanced towards marketing, instead of sales, make sure to:

  • Create and maintain an editorial calendar. Decide on the types of content you want to offer: customer education, industry news, and light hearted news from around the office, for example. Intermix more sales and promotion oriented posts into this flow. The editorial calendar will keep you focused on offering a balance of content, so you can see most clearly what your customers respond to.

  • Incorporate user generated content, including guest posts, product reviews, and links to other social media.

Addressing Pain Points

Salespeople and marketers have the luxury of approaching pain points from different directions. Salespeople work with their customers to understand the customer’s pain points, and offer solutions based on their company’s offerings.

Marketers, however, have to show customers their pain points. In some cases, marketers show customers pain points that customers weren’t aware of until they were pointed out. After all, if someone had told you twenty years ago that you would find it incredibly inconvenient, possibly even painful, to leave home without a portable connection to the Internet, how seriously would you have taken them? Yet 64% of Americans now own smartphones, according to the Pew Research Center.

Sales and marketing are both incredibly important parts of a company’s overall business picture, and at the very best companies, they work together to create an environment where quality flourishes, and customers benefit. But sales shouldn’t think like marketers, and marketers who think like salespeople do not tend to get the results they want.

Where do you think marketing and sales differ? How does this affect your business? Let us know in the discussion.