The words Marketing and Selling are tossed around at every business meeting. But how many people really understand the difference between the two? Although they do share a symbiotic relationship, they are separate and essential functions, critical to the success of a business. Understanding the difference will make working in these areas easier.
A simpler way of looking at it would be to say marketing means going out into the “market” to see what people want but are unable to get. If such a product or service were available, how many potential customers are there? How much would they be willing to pay? This is one way of marketing.
The other way is when you already have a product or service available. You need to find out where it can be sold, to whom and for how much. You need to know how to place the product or service in the market.
Based on the information gathered, you then have to plan your production, set sales targets and do your budgeting and costing, along with planning your promotional strategies.
Selling is defined as “To exchange ownership for money or its equivalent.”
Is sounds simple but it is not. Selling is executing a plan. If running a business is like a battle, sales is the front line. Everything else are Headquarters’ operations. Selling is exchanging your products for money. How this is done is the sales plan. Marketing will tell you where the market is, but locating the customers, persuading them to pay for the product, negotiating prices and deliveries is selling. Selling does not end with the receipt of the payment. An important part of selling is ensuring the customer returns.
While they are separate functions, Marketing and Sales have to be closely linked. Marketing may develop plans that are not in touch with ground realities, which Sales knows best. Sales may not be aware of new markets of positioning opportunities which Marketing, with its broader perspective, will be able to identify. Marketing and Sales have to work together on the selling plan and financials. Is it better to look at lower volumes and higher margins or the converse? Sales will develop special selling campaigns and price schemes. But Marketing needs to be involved so that they can offer their inputs on how these campaigns can be used not just to increase volumes but the broaden the market.
Marketing is a cerebral function – gathering information, processing it, understanding what can be sold where and in what volumes at what kind of price. Sales is a physical function – taking the product into the market, selling it and bringing in the money. Neither function has any purpose without the other. Planning without implementation is worthless, as is action with out knowing where, when, how and why to act. If Sales and Marketing are able to use common support resources the synergies are easier to achieve.
Even in the smallest of companies, where one person may look after both functions, there is a tendency to give more weight to one which is a big mistake. Success come when Sales and Marketing act as two sides of the same coin.