Sales vs Marketing – my friend and I battle it out!

I was having a passionate discussion with a friend recently about marketing ideas.  We were talking about an idea for an event for a particular client.  My friend comes from a sales background and couldn’t understand why investing in something like that would be beneficial over investing in having several sales meetings in its place.  I have experience of both sales roles and marketing roles.  In my mind they are strongest when fully integrated,however this conversation reminded me how difficult it can be to achieve this when sales people and marketing people often have very differing views on how to meet targets.  Sales people can find it difficult to understand marketing activity that is about long term brand development rather than activities where an immediate return on investment can be identified.

My friend’s view was if the product or service is good enough you just need to employ a decent sales person who can explain this to the target audience.  I disagree.  Firstly buyers of products and services are increasingly undertaking a great deal of research before they even speak to a sales person. They are already a good way through the buying journey based on their own research, much of it done online.  The look and feel of your branding, your online presence on the relevant social media platforms and the tone of your communications all create an impression that will influence the buyers choice, whether they are aware of this or not.  Take a look at Apple for example, not many would deny that they have well designed products, however Apple go beyond the product ensuring that every single thing they produce from the packaging to the instruction manual is consistent in terms of design and taste. As a result they have Apple devotees who not only love the product features but are also design enthusiasts.  Apple’s perceived cool factor is as much to do with its marketing as it is it’s technical excellence.

The event my friend and I were discussing would be an ideal showcase for that client’s unique identity in a crowded market place.  Additionally the seminar attendees would be marketing managers, a group of people who in my experience don’t like being overtly sold to.  Once the audience have bought into or identified with the brand they will be much more receptive to listening to a sales pitch which would then take them through the reasons they should take the final step and commit to buy.  In conclusion I wouldn’t say my sales friend was totally wrong, clearly there is huge value in investing in a strong sales team, however it would be unwise to do this in isolation without understanding the benefits and value that marketing can bring



Kathleen O'Connor

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