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Marketing vs. Sales: What is the Difference?

Understand the Difference Between Marketing and Sales and How They Work Together

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What is the difference between marketing and sales?

Do you know the difference between marketing and sales? Let's think about this question for a moment. Without marketing you would not have prospects or leads to follow up with, but yet without a good sales technique and strategy your closing rate may depress you. Marketing and sales should work simultaneously, but in most companies they are departments that don't even speak to each other.

If we broke it down to the basics, marketing is everything that you do to reach and persuade prospects and the sales process is everything that you do to close the sale and get a signed agreement or contract. Both are necessities to the success of a business. You cannot do without either process. If you work to strategically combine both efforts you will experience a successful amount of business growth. However, by the same token if the efforts are unbalanced or departments don't communicate it can detour business growth.

Your marketing should consist of strategies that you can measure your reach and work to persuade your prospects that you are the company for them. It's the message that prepares the prospect for the sale. It could consist of advertising, public relations, social media, relationship marketing, brand marketing, viral marketing, and direct mail.

The sales process consists of interpersonal interaction. It is often done by a one-on-one meeting, cold calls, and networking. It's anything that engages you with the prospect or customer on a personal level rather than at a distance. Most the time the prospect or potential customer has been driven to you via marketing efforts.

I like to think of it like this, your marketing efforts begin the process of the eight contacts or touchpoints that studies show it takes to move a prospect or potential client to the close of the sale. If marketing is done effectively you can begin to move that prospect from the status of a cold lead to a warm lead. When the prospect hits the"warm" level it's much easier for the sales professional or sales department to close the sale.

Do you see the cycle?

Studies have shown that it takes multiple contacts using both sales and marketing to move the prospect from one level to the next. That is why it is important that you develop a process that combines both sales and marketing. This will enable you to reach prospects at all three levels; cold, warm, and hot. It's all about balance. Make sure that you've integrated the two, marketing and sales. They are not separate. If they are different departments, those departments must talk and communicate in order to be effective.

Are you unsure of how to integrate your marketing and sales?

Try this. Take a few moments and divide your prospect lists and database into categories of cold, warm, and hot leads. Then sit down and identify a strategy on how to proceed with each individual group.

For example you could try the following methods of contact:

  • Cold Lead Strategy - Send out a direct mailing or offer them a special promotion
  • Warm Lead Strategy - Try a follow-up call, send out a sales letter, or schedule a special seminar or training session to get all of your warm leads together.

Once you've moved your prospect to the "warm" level it's time to proceed in closing the sale, call it passing the baton if you'd like. This will be easier to do if you somehow engage the prospect. You can do this by conducting a one-on-one call, make a presentation, or present a proposal, estimate, or contract.

What if you are uncomfortable with the sales or marketing process?

An alternative that often proves successful is to partner with someone that possess the talents that you feel you lack in. If you are stronger in marketing, find someone who understands and gets the sales process. If you are better at sales find someone that can help you strengthen the message, create marketing materials that sell and give you tactics and ideas. If you don't work in a company that has both departments and you are working solo you can do this by creating a partnership, subcontracting, or hiring in that talent.

Remember the key to success in marketing and in sales is balance!

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