Saturday, 21 June 2008

Understanding the difference between marketing and sales

Marketing and sales are close relatives. Marketing sets the scene. Sales finish the job. When all else is said and done, marketing is part of the sales process. Sales is the end result of marketing.

In a game of soccer, the defenders fend of the opposition and pass the ball through to mid-field. The mid-field set the scene for the forwards to take the game forward and score goals. Without goals the mid-field efforts come to nothing. Without the mid-field the chance of scoring goals is close to nil.

A business must conduct research and development to stay ahead of the competition. Marketing must introduce the product to the market. Highlight the good points. Create a sales strategy. When the sales team take over, the scene is set to make the sales. It is now up to them to score the goals.

McCarthy defined the well known four-legged "marketing-mix". The Four Ps Product, Pricing, Promotion and Positioning.

Product everything from the design and development of the product range to testing ideas and evaluating the potential profitability of the product. The process includes market research and using any feedback received from the sales force to improve the product or product range.

Pricing a pricing strategy must be set to achieve sales objectives, to achieve profitability and to define the place in the market. Do you aim to be a price leader or an exclusive supplier? High turnover of high margins?

Promotion the strategy relating to the advertising of the goods and services. Promotion includes the establishment of a brand and spreading information about the product or company. Advertising may include media campaigns and in-store promotions. Others may focus on spreading the message through networks or word of mouth. A really great restaurant never needs to advertise, but what would happen to Coke without it?

Positioning includes the distribution and sales channels, the market segment to be targeted. A Private Bank may target only "high net-worth" individuals, while a commercial bank aims at volume. A shampoo manufacturer may allow the products to be sold only through hairdressers while another product is available at every supermarket.

The mid-field have done their job and the scene is set for the forwards to score goals. It is now up to the sales-force to clinch the deals. The job of sales is generally face-to-face. Marketing at the individual level. The company and products are already known thanks to the marketing effort. Sales must identify customers and close deals. Customer responses should be recorded and fed back to marketing.

Although closely related, the activities of marketing and sales are different. Marketing focuses on the sales environment. Sales actually move the product.

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