Sales vs. Marketing

I’ve never been fond of outright selling. I dislike cold calling, I’m no fan of talking someone into doing something when they’re not interested, I’m not big on the persuasion methods some sales folks use.

And yet I’ve had success selling big ticket items. And recently I’ve been studying more about selling, thinking it would be useful to be a better salesman.

Which leads me to the question: “What’s more important, Sales or Marketing? And why?”

If you walk through your local mall, there are the ubiquitous kiosks with people hawking RC helicopters to hand lotion to calendars to jewelry and everything in between. Some of those folks are downright aggressive in engaging you!

I’ll also bet money you’ve walked by an Apple or Starbucks store that was busy, yet no one accosted you to go in and check out their wares. With this seeming low-key sales approach Apple and Starbucks haven’t been hurting for sales.

How is this?

PR, Marketing and Sales are three legs in the process to achieve The Close. The better the PR & Marketing, the less effort is required by Sales. In the absence of PR & Marketing, Sales is left with the daunting task of getting someone interested and convinced in spending that precious commodity called money for the product in question.

To achieve viral growth, the sales process has to be fast and easy, with the end goal of the sales process merely being the administrative aspect of swapping dollars (or credit/debit cards) for goods and services.

The handling of objections, the changing of minds, the answering of questions, the more these are addressed with PR & Marketing, the easier the sales process is and the easier The Close is achieved.

The better the Marketing and PR, the easier the close. Conversely, if getting the close is tough, then behind it you’ll find ineffective or non-existent Marketing and PR.

If you look at the history of Starbucks, they started their company on straight PR. They continue their efforts with great PR and Marketing. It’s so good, you NEVER think of anything bad about Starbucks. Ask anyone, coffee drinker or not, about Starbucks and they’ll say something good or great about the brews, the confections, the stores, the entire experience.

Apple also has great PR and Marketing. Their customer experience is fabulous. By and large people have a great opinion of their products.

Conversely, people dislike buying cars. They hate the dealership experience. Once the car purchase is decided with the sales person, they visit the dreaded guy or gal who wants to sell them more insurance and warranties and protections. And it all takes hours and hours and hours!

So obviously the sales process needs to be improved. But behind that, the majority of people today research their car purchase on line and find out what appeals to them. Their decisions to buy are influenced by how effectively the information is presented to them. This is MARKETING. Even with a lousy sales process, people are buying cars in great numbers this year. Why? Great Marketing, great presentation of data.

The nice thing is that MARKETING can be automated. PR can be automated. A few people create and prepare and execute the campaigns while millions are the recipients of the campaign.

Other products fall into the same boat. Let’s ignore which dish soap you buy, or laundry detergent or brand of cereal. Which grocery store do you choose? Nobody accosted you on the street and said, “Buy your groceries in our store! Right this way!” You made a decision of where to shop. Chances are there are several grocery stores in your extended neighborhood area. What made you pick your favorite? Certain foods, cleanliness, layout of the store, advertisements, coupons and sales, etc.

Where do you buy the tires for your car? Where do you buy your furniture? Where do you buy your home improvement supplies? Yes, for each of these things there is a final “sales” step, where you pick which brand of tire and the appropriate characteristics, or which ceiling fan or which vertical blinds.

Furniture stores do a lousy job of marketing. They do a great job of advertising, but how many people walk into a furniture store and say, “I want the Banyon 650 sleeper sofa with the massage option and built-in surround sound speakers?” No one! They say, “I’m looking for a sofa,” then look at every sofa in the store, sit in a bunch, look at prices, maybe ask about quality, and then if the sofa looks like how they want it to look and the sales person knows how to close, they buy a sofa. If not, they go to the next store “looking for what they want.” No marketing! The only real “marketing” is of the store itself, not of the products.

How many times have you gone into a tire store needing tires and walked out without buying tires? Chances are you did some checking, figured where to buy them, then got to the store and worked out your best deal.

PR and Marketing got you into the tire store and pre-disposed to buy from them. The sales closing consisted of matching the brand, type and price to your needs and budget. There was no need to close you on, “Should I buy tires or not?” or “Should I buy tires from this store?”

I’m a car nut. Car enthusiastic, to be politically correct. I shop online, have even bought tires online. Being an enthusiast, I was marketed to by an online store with ads, sponsorships and displays at races, technical content to answer questions, all of which got me pre-disposed to seriously consider them for my purchase decision.

That’s Marketing.

Get the idea?

The better the Marketing and PR (and PR is a whole ‘nother but related subject that influences peoples’ opinions), the easier the sale. If the Marketing and PR is superlative, the sale is already made and you just have to give them the contract to sign or take their money. They were closed before they (or you) walked in the door.

If you’re having a tough time with sales, and assuming you know how to close, then your Marketing and PR needs to be improved. You know you have great Marketing and PR when people are asking you to buy your product or service. It’s as simple as that.

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