In my company, we’re in the midst of an
internal dispute. We want to increase our sales substantially in the coming year, but to do so, we need extra help. No dispute about that.
Like all small companies, however, we have a limited budget. So the disagreement comes about what type of person to hire.
Our staff is overwhelmed trying to get out our monthly newsletter, manage our trade shows and create catalogs. Many of those activities need to be expanded. On the other hand, we really need a crackerjack person to go out there and contact potential customer, one-on-one, to increase our top-line sales figures.
So do we devote our resources to hiring someone who’s good at marketing? Or one who’s good at sales?
Many entrepreneurs don’t grasp the difference between marketing and sales. That’s because these two critical business functions are extremely interrelated.
Briefly, here’s the distinction:
“Marketing” encompasses all those activities designed to make customers aware of you and to explain your competitive advantage. Marketing activities include public relations, advertising, developing and maintaining a Web site, exhibiting at trade shows, creating brochures and other marketing materials.
Marketing also includes “networking” - meeting potential customers and referral sources through informal activities such as joining organizations, attending industry events or taking people to lunch. In smaller companies, networking is often the major marketing activity.
“Sales” activities are those direct actions taken to secure customer orders. Sales activities include submitting proposals and estimates, in-person or on-phone sales calls, e-commerce on your Web site, exhibiting at consumer shows, direct mail. In smaller companies, one-on-one prospect meetings, including lunches, dinners and other time-consuming activities dominate the sales process.
As you can see, it’s hard to be successful in one area without the other. How do you go out and make a sales call if you don’t have a brochure to give a prospect, a Web site to explain your company, or if you don’t exhibit at trade shows to generate leads? On the other hand, what good are all those great marketing activities if you don’t have someone to go out there and actually close the deal?
Since marketing and sales are designed to attract and secure customers, why can’t we just get one person to handle both jobs? That’s what many small companies do.
Ah, but here’s the hitch: People who are great at marketing usually hate sales, and the best salespeople are usually terrible at core marketing activities. That’s because these key activities appeal to very different personality types.
Salespeople are action - and dollar - oriented. What motivates them is securing that order, landing that client. They don’t want to waste time working on a news release or designing a Web site.
And marketers? They’re terrific at figuring out how to communicate to customers, designing a marketing program to keep your name in front of your target market, figuring out the right trade show to demonstrate your products. But don’t ask them to pick up the phone and try to sell anything.
So what’s my solution?
I’m going to try to get both, perhaps by hiring two part-time people, using independent contractors or hiring salespeople who will work partially on commission.
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