Friday, August 2, 2013

Marketing is not Sales, but Does Matter to Sales

It is a common conception, and often true in smaller organizations, that marketing serves as an add-on or subordinate function to a sales department. Unfortunately, as businesses expand this conception that was once both useful and at least partially accurate ceases to hold water.

Smaller organizations often depend on sales just to survive to the next quarter and meet payroll. They depend on external suppliers, cater to local markets they understand intuitively and can get by without a dedicated marketing department. Larger organizations often acquire some or all of their supply chains, expand into markets they do not intuitively understand, and a dedicated marketing staff becomes a requirement to gain market share.

At that point, the conception of marketing as a subordinate function to sales no longer reflects the reality. Marketing is responsible for managing issues that have business-wide impact. They often handle that supply chain the business acquires, perform market research and delve deep into the product development process. On the customer-facing side of things, marketing develops collateral to boost awareness, entice, excite and build buzz about products. Marketing also manages relationships with external marketing and advertising firms. The one thing these all have in common is that they support, but are not themselves, sales activities.

Even direct marketing, which is probably, hands down, the most sales oriented type of marketing isn’t a sales process. Direct marketing still aims to create interest and foster relationships with customers. The entire object is to draw the customer into the sales funnel, by calling now or signing up for more information. At that point, marketing ends and an entirely new process, the sales process, begins. To demand that marketing justify itself by offering up a return on investment measured in sales is to lean on the old conception of marketing as subordinate function to sales, which it isn’t.

Marketing should, however, work to support sales efforts. Territorial standoffs are common between the two departments, which often view each other as budget-sapping and ineffective. When marketing and sales don’t align their strategies, these accusations are true.

If a marketing department blindsides the sales team with a new product announcement, the sales department is woefully underprepared to sell the product to anyone or even field questions. When salespeople make price reductions to move the product, it often looks arbitrary and dismissive of the extensive marketing research that goes into setting price points. 

When marketing and sales coordinate, though, big things can happen. Sales people go into the field fully armed to answer questions, product information in hand, and ready to take pre-orders. Marketing materials go out at times when the sales team can best capitalize on that material and sales number go up. Tier 3 in Scottsdale can help to ensure that your marketing materials go out exactly when you need them to support that big sales push.

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