At Strategic Marketing Services, we strive to share great marketing tips that will help small business owners get more leads and ultimately more sales. We even share our thoughts occasionally on sales and marketing integration; how the two teams need to work together in order to achieve success for the whole company. However, it always surprises us when clients see no differences between sales and marketing, and assume they’re one in the same. Nothing can be further from the truth and thinking that they’re the same can greatly impact revenue over time.

The definitions of sales and marketing

Let’s start with basic definitions so we can refer back to them throughout this article. According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Another way to put it may be to say that marketing is the systematic planning, implementation and control of business activities to bring together buyers and sellers. Marketing communicates to many. Sales, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary is “the act of selling; specifically:  the transfer of ownership of and title to property from one person to another for a price.” It’s the activity or business of selling products or services. Sales communicates one-on-one with people. While the definitions of the two have some similarities, they are two completely different activities, and need to be treated as such, but not siloed from one another.

Looking deeper at what marketing is….and isn’tlook

As mentioned above, marketing messages to many people. Even though different marketing messages may be targeted to different buyer personas, in general, marketing is not communicating to potential customers one-on-one. Instead, they’re trying to make the company’s products or services relatable to what people are looking for. They are illustrating how a company can be the answer to someone’s problem. Marketing tells the stories to many people to help with branding They keep the stories and messages active and making sure they resonate with the target markets using the company’s unique value proposition as its central reference. Marketing is math. Marketing brings you the average results of items like cost per lead, cost per acquisition and overall ROI. It matches the cost of marketing activities with how many sales come in, and calculates the effectiveness for constant process improvement.

Marketing studies what experience customers expect when they buy or try a product, service or solution. Remember, people buy from people, not from companies. It’s their job to understand what people are looking for and what kind of messaging to put out so people know, like and trust a company enough to buy and even refer others to that company.  What marketing doesn’t do is match specific solutions to specific problems. Marketing doesn’t promote special prices and discounts. The job of marketing is not to close the deal; they simply bring the qualified prospect to the table so that sales can take over in a more one-to-one relationship to turn the prospect into a customer.

What sales is…and what it isn’t

Sales is ALL about one to one relationships with prospects. It’s about listening to what the client is saying, understanding their specific business, challenges and problems, and matching a specific solution to that problem by presenting a product or service to suit their needs. Sales is where the company becomes real for the potential client, where the human factor plays a larger role. It is where the stories and brand come to life.

A lot is written about sales and relationships because sales is all about developing relationships. A salesperson who doesn’t connect with the client will not be effective.  It’s sales’ job to looks after individuals’ needs to present a solution. They deal in specifics. They represent the answer to a problem. Sales doesn’t deal with buyer personas and target audiences; they are the ones that make the transaction real, specific, and customized to the prospect.

Sales and marketing: different, but dependent on one another

So, if sales and marketing are so different, why is it so important that they align and work together? The short answer is that without marketing, sales has no differencesprospects to close. And without sales, all of marketing’s efforts are for nothing. If sales doesn’t understand what marketing message attracted the prospect, they won’t be as informed when providing a solution. If marketing doesn’t understand what pain points a typical prospect wants sales to address, they won’t know how to craft a marketing message. One of the most difficult challenges that small businesses face is how to integrate the efforts of sales and marketing to turn it into a well-run system that generates qualified leads that will ultimately turn into sales. Unfortunately, sales and marketing efforts are often at odds with one another, with two completely different goals that actually work against each other. This situation can hurt the bottom line of a small business, especially in companies that use sales teams to interface with their customers. For a company to grow successfully, the two must work together seamlessly.

The reality is, marketing needs sales and sales needs marketing.  One of the most difficult challenges that small businesses face is how to integrate the efforts of sales and marketing to turn it into a well-run system that generates qualified leads that will ultimately turn into sales. The importance of sales and marketing integration can’t be emphasized enough. They should be so intertwined that many companies have coined the phrase “Smarketing“. An integrated sales and marketing strategy is the future of small business.

Take a look at your own company. Do sales and marketing work together?  Do they even communicate with one another?  Or are they in fact working against each other, siloed from each other, with no true shared direction? While there are many differences between sales and marketing, their shared vision of growing the company’s revenue should help them work together for a common goal. If you struggle with sales and marketing integration, reach out to a professional to help bring the efforts together.

Patty Hughes
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