Let's be clear...sales and marketing are two different things.
This is an ongoing debate, one that I definitely have an opinion on. I've been a marketing professional for more than 25 years, and not once have I actually been a sales rep or made a sale.
Numerous times when asked what I do for a living and I say "I'm in marketing" it's immediately followed by, "So you do sales?" That's when I look down in despair and shake my head.
What's the difference?
While marketing and sales compliment each other, they each have different scopes of work. I've worked closely with sales teams and departments over the years, so I have a clear understanding of the difference between the two.
Let's start with the definition of sales: the exchange of a commodity or service for money; the action of selling something. Or...a period during which a retailer sells goods at reduced prices.
Then there's the definition of marketing: 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. (Site: AMA)
I understand why the two get confused, but to effectively sell something you need a strong marketing strategy behind it. And to have an effective marketing strategy, you need a marketing expert or team.
The responsibilities of marketing include understanding your audience, your market, your competitors, and effectively communicate your service or product.
Marketing needs to think through the creative - what will set your service or product apart from competitors? What will the message be that will resonate with customers or clients? And what is the story behind your product or service that will entice customers or clients to use yours over someone else's.
What platforms and channels will you use to reach your audiences? How will your branding be demonstrated on those platforms? Is only digital marketing beneficial for you? Is it a combination of digital and traditional forms of marketing?
These things are just a snapshot of what a marketing professional's responsibilities are to really strengthen and grow a business.
Sales is also an integral part of that growth and sustainability. Sales reps are on the phone, on the streets, on the floor, negotiating deals and convincing customers and clients to spend their money with your service or business.
The chicken or the egg
So what was first - marketing or sales? The reality is, both are needed simultaneously in most businesses. Just like chickens need eggs to exist, eggs need chickens to lay them. Both need to work together. And each needs to be focused on separately.
Think of marketing as the foundation of all businesses and organizations. Most other parts - such as sales - grow from it. The problem is that when you try to force the two to be the same, you run the risk of one side being weakened or not being as productive as needed.
As a marketer, I would never have the time (nor do I have the personality) to actively sell. In the same respect, sales teams should not have to worry about creating the marketing tools they need to help them do their job. So again, while the two pieces of businesses compliment each other, they need to be (and are!) kept separate to reach their full capacity.
No...I don't do sales. I'm in marketing.