There is a lot of confusion out there when it comes to sales and marketing. Many people think that sales and marketing are one in the same, but that would be an incorrect assumption. Unfortunately, many small business owners assume that if they’re doing one or the other, they are positioning their business to growth, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Sales and marketing are two very different efforts and though they should work together to effectively grow a business, just doing one or the other is not enough. Keep reading to learn why small businesses need both sales and marketing to be successful.

What is 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.

What is Sales?

Sales 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. Sales can either be reactive to incoming leads that marketing generates, or it can be proactive outreach to targeted prospects.

Why Small Businesses Can’t Grow Just Doing Reactive Selling

can't growSmall business owners are extremely busy, wearing many hats with many responsibilities, so time is precious. Savvy owners understand the value of a strategic marketing plan that leverages several different kinds of marketing tactics in order to attract qualified leads.  Where many business owners fall short is not also incorporating proactive sales activities. They incorrectly assume that if they are marketing, quality leads will come in and the only sales efforts they need to do are to work on those incoming sales leads. Unfortunately, that is usually not enough to grow the business. Developing a proactive sales strategy is absolutely essential if you are going to gain net new business or cross sell solutions into existing clients. To just make do with existing resources with no proactive developmental sales strategy is a recipe for disaster. This is especially true for small businesses whose marketing budgets may be limited and therefore generating a limited amount of incoming leads.

The thought of proactive sales can’t be intimidating for many, but with a simple sales strategy, it can be done. First, think of your sales efforts as broken down into two categories: selling to brand new prospects (whether they be ones you generate or ones that come to you through your marketing efforts) and upselling or cross-selling to existing clients. Let’s start with going out and prospecting for brand new sales opportunities. There are seven basic steps to selling. Understanding these basics will help you sell more effectively.

The Seven Steps of Selling

Prospect for Leads

Prospecting refers to the process of finding new potential customers. Start by knowing who your ideal client is, build a list of prospects, and reach out with an introduction about your services or products.

Set an Appointment

Once you have an ideal sales target identified, call on them in person, send emails, use social media or send out sales letters to see if there’s an interest.

Qualify the Prospect

Before you go too far in your efforts, ensure that what you offer can address their needs, and that they’re a good fit as a customer for your business.

Make Your Presentation

This is where you have the opportunity to find out what their pain points are, and how your product or service can address those needs.

Address the Prospect’s Objections

People’s first reaction is always “no”. That’s when the selling starts! Just remember, if you’ve done your due diligence, you have a product or service to solve their problems. It’s simply a matter of helping them understand how your company can help them. Don’t hard sell; be helpful and educational. Listen to each concern and address it.

Close the Sale

Many people who have never sold before actually forget to ask for the sale. Silly as that sounds, once you’ve determined that what you offer can help the client, and you get acknowledgement that they agree, ask for the sales!

Ask for Referrals

The answer is always no if you don’t ask! Ask if they know of other companies who may need your services.

The Easiest Way to Sell:  Upselling and Cross-Selling

easyFor many business owners, the thought of cold calling and finding new prospects to sell to is intimidating. A good place to start getting comfortable with sales is to sell to the clients you already have by upselling or cross-selling new services and products to them. Upselling is the practice of encouraging customers to purchase a comparable higher-end product than the one in question, while cross-selling invites customers to buy related or complementary items. Though often used interchangeably, both upselling and cross-selling offer distinct benefits and can be effective in tandem.

You Still Need Marketing

For a company to grow successfully, the two must work together seamlessly. The reality is, marketing needs sales and sales needs marketing. If you’re a small business owner that is doing both, it’s important to really listen to prospects during your sales efforts to better understand how to market to other like prospects. Again, marketing speaks to the masses; sales speaks to individuals. If you can understand what resonates with prospects when you’re trying to close a deal, you’ll improve your marketing message.

Small businesses need both sales and marketing to be successful. If you’re unsure how to integrate sales and marketing efforts, reach out to a small business sales and marketing professional who can help craft a strategy to help your business grow.

Patty Hughes
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