Small business BIG growth®
Words by Sue Barrett, BIGthink! Specialist

Sales & Marketing business signpost

If any business is going to thrive in the 21st century it’s vital that we all have a clear understanding of how Sales and Marketing can work effectively together in our businesses. For too long, there have been unfruitful turf wars between sales and marketing teams. For too long, too many people have been fooled into believing that ‘sales’ lives under marketing’s mandate. And for too long, too many people have been calling ‘selling’ marketing which it is not.

Buyers are no longer paying much attention to marketing messages. Studies show that in the decision-making process traditional marketing communications techniques have very little credibility or relevance. Buyers are checking out product and service information in their own way, often through the Internet, links to business associates and through direct interaction with supplier organisations – many of whom communicate using smart-phone technology. And they are doing it in their own time, at little cost.

In today’s increasingly social media-infused environment, traditional marketing techniques not only don’t work, they make no sense. Trying to extend the 4 Ps to a world of social media simply misses the mark. Even FaceBook and Google can tell you all about it. It finds itself mired in an ongoing debate about whether marketing on either FaceBook or using Google Ads is as effective as it needs to be.Marketing

The reality is that the Internet, smart-phones and social media have changed the world of sales and marketing. The interesting thing is that both sales and marketing professionals saw the changes coming. Marketing did what it has traditionally done when under threat – resorted to a PR campaign to come up with “inspirational names” for doing the same old thing (e.g. relationship marketing, out-come focused branding, life-style communications and a myriad of other names used to disguise the use of the antiquated 4Ps model) in the hope that these would encourage people to believe marketing was up to the challenge.

Sales, on the other hand, has simply adapted the selling techniques to accommodate the avalanche that the Internet and social media represent in the way people buy. In turn this has bolstered the credibility of sales, at the same time as marketing are struggling to regain some vestige of credibility.

From a sales perspective, professional salespeople have learned that they needed to break the umbilical cord that has given them so much comfort in the past. It’s no longer up to marketing to generate leads for sales (which salespeople tend to decry as poor quality any way); it is no longer marketing’s role to create invitation lists to networking functions (that salespeople complain is not with the right people). Nor is it necessary for marketing to invest in expensive collateral and printed brochures that sales really only use as a crutch for a lack of product knowledge. Now these activities and many more are being performed jointly by effective sales and marketing teams. Teams that work collaboratively to engage with their buyers in a more holistic manner.

So in a 21st century world what are some of the differences between Sales and Marketing?

Marketing is…

  1. Marketing is one to many.
  2. Marketing tells the stories (company, product, etc.) to many people.
  3. Marketing looks after the brand’s reputation
  4. Marketing needs to keep the stories circulating and resonating with the target markets using the company’s plumb line (the business of the business) as its central reference.
  5. Marketing analyses the big data, marketing brings you the average result not the specifics.
  6. Marketing studies what experience customers expect when they buy or try a product, service or solution. That means reading their digital footprint and understanding their on-line chatter as much as it does focus group discussions. Marketing looks for new metrics about consumer clusters and grouping. On-line groups are markets of the near future as more and more people cocoon themselves and shop less.
  7. Marketing should not promote special prices and discounts, instead replace these with special offers, focusing on delivering greater value – more bang for the buck is the new mantra and greater value with fair exchange is the principle of pricing today – not cost plus as it has been in the past.

Sales is…

  1. Sales is about one to one.
  2. Sales is where our business becomes real for the client. It is where the stories and brand come to life.
  3. Sales  develops relationships. It’s relationship drive
  4. Sales looks after individuals.
  5. Sales deals with the ambiguities and the details of each person. It cannot be averaged.
  6. Sales analyses the behavior of the prospects and customers whom they deal with on an individual basis. Sales professionals talk to their customers about the joys of risk free offerings that help them realise their goals and objectives. They tap into their buyers’ FaceBook, LinkedIn and other digital pages to gain a deeper understanding of what experiences each individual customers want.
  7. Sales moves away from discussing price and discount, instead replacing these with discussions about total cost of ownership which includes price but extends to include deliveries, warranties, support, training and the other contributing things that are delivered as part of the purchase. Sale engages with customers to understand what risks they face when making a purchase and then learns how to position their companies as risk free alternatives.

The one thing Sales and Marketing must share in common is the company’s ‘plumb line’ and its stories. From many people to the individual, the central plumb line: the business of the business, needs to be consistent and help each customer connect in a meaningful and specific manner that is relevant to their situation and their view of the world.

Remember everybody lives by selling something…



Sue Barrett lives by the philosophy that ‘selling is everybody’s business & everybody lives by selling something’ and is Founder & Managing Director of Barrett Consulting Group (est. 1995), incorporating Barrett and Barrett is one of Australia’s leading sales consulting firms partnering with companies to improve their sales operations.


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