Sales and Marketing Director Pierre Imad Marketing questions [Archives:2006/951/Business & Economy]

June 1 2006

By: Pierre Imad
[email protected]

GSM has shown how its tried and true technology gives new PCS carriers a fast head start over competitors. GSM offers the widest availability of handsets and infrastructure equipment. GSM's feature-rich, mature digital technology and use of smart cards provide added security and flexibility to carriers in providing valuable customer service.

The GSM bandwagon leads the parade. GSM was the first and today remains the only digital PCS technology in widespread commercial use in the world. With time to market a key to success, GSM is a major plus.

In my work as director of sales, marketing and customer care in such a GSM company, it's very interesting to hear how people interchange the terms sales and marketing. It's very common for salespeople to refer to themselves as marketing representatives and for marketing managers to have no idea about the sales process and how it fits into their marketing efforts. I've noticed that more and more didn't discover the exact difference between sales and marketing.

I've been asked this question many times at marketing and sales seminars I've conducted. Succinctly, the marketer “parachutes” into a country, culture or economy that currently doesn't have the product or service; he or she creates the need, develops the requirements and salesmen follow to take orders. Having worked in many countries in the global marketplace, I've successfully used this definition worldwide. Some will disagree, but it works. Best regards and I wish you all success in the global marketplace.

Marketing is figuring out what the customer is going to need, finding a way to satisfy that need and making a profit doing it. A function within marketing, sales is responsible for managing customer interface and ensuring that it's easy for the customer to get and pay for the product or service. Sales sells what we have, whereas marketing looks for unmet needs – existing or emerging – and finds a way to satisfy those needs profitably.

I'll briefly reply to confusing questions like:

What's the difference between marketing and sales?

Let's think about this question for a moment. Without marketing, you wouldn't have prospects or leads to follow up with, but yet without a good sales technique and strategy, your closing rate may depress you.

Marketing is everything you do to reach and persuade prospects. The sales process is everything you do to close the sale and get a signed contract or agreement. Both are necessary for a business's success and you can't do without either process. By strategically combining both efforts, you'll experience a successful amount of business growth. However, by the same token, if efforts are unbalanced, they can detour your growth.

Marketing consists of measures used to reach and persuade prospects that you're the company for them. It's the message that prepares them for sales and consists of advertising, public relations, brand marketing, viral marketing and direct mail.

The sales process consists of interpersonal interaction, often done via one-on-one meetings, cold calls and networking. It's anything that engages you with the prospect or customer on a personal level rather than at a distance.

Your marketing efforts begin the process of the eight contacts which studies show it takes to move a prospect or potential client to the close of the sale. If marketing is done effectively, you can begin to move that prospect from a cold to a warm lead. Once the prospect hits the “warm” level, it's much easier for the sales professional to close the sale.

Which is correct: Marketing and Communications or Marketing Communications?

Marketing is everything you do to move your product or service, including research, branding, pricing, design, product placement, distribution channels, advertising, etc. In its broadest sense, communications is the design and delivery of messages, which can be anything from speeches to internal staff communications. So, Marketing Communications is that branch of communications dedicated to supporting marketing efforts.

If you label your department Marketing Communications, you're saying it handles ONLY that type of communications. If you call it Marketing AND Communications, you're saying it handles both the marketing and broader communications functions.

What is marketing?

Ask most people about marketing and they'll talk about advertising. Why? Because advertising is the end result of a long marketing process – and the only part the general public actually observes. Behind the scenes though are hundreds of individuals and thousands of hours of marketing work involved in every product you see advertised.

This becomes problematic when advertising consumers become marketing creators, as they assume they should begin with advertising. That's like assuming that building a house begins with selecting paint and wallpaper because that's the part that's most visible and with which you're most familiar.

So what is marketing?

Marketing is the study and practice of better, faster, cheaper and friendlier – “Making things go more smoothly,” as I tell my agents. The product or service a company provides is the 'what' of its existence, whereas marketing is the 'how.' In a business setting, our 'what' is the spreading of the word of the director, manager, etc. We want to grow the company, heal the world and bring the good news to those that haven't heard it. Those are all answers to the question, “What should the business be doing?” The question, “How can we do those things better?” is one that marketing can help answer.

So, where do we start? Good marketing begins with some basic ideas that can help any organization – including your business – accomplish many objectives long before venturing into the realm of advertising.

Discuss the difference between sales and market orientations.

First, sales-oriented firms focus on their own needs; market-oriented firms focus on customers' needs and preferences. Second, sales-oriented companies consider themselves deliverers of goods and services, whereas market-oriented companies view themselves as satisfiers of customers.

Third, sales-oriented firms direct their products to everyone; market-oriented firms aim at specific segments of the population. Fourth, although the primary goal of both types of firms is profit, sales-oriented businesses pursue maximum sales volume through intensive promotion, whereas market-oriented businesses pursue customer satisfaction through coordinated activities.

Marketing is what companies do to get sales. Marketing is part of the product today, what's chosen to sell and how it's promoted, displayed and advertised. Sales are the efforts or practices used to actually sell the item. Discounts and special stores sales are both selling and marketing.

Are you unsure of how to integrate your marketing and sales?

Try this. Take a few moments and divide your prospect lists and database into categories of cold, warm and hot leads. Then sit down and identify a strategy on how to proceed with each individual group.

For example, you could try the following contact methods:

– Cold lead strategy – Send out a direct mailing or offer them a special promotion.

– Warm lead strategy – Try a follow-up call, send out a sales letter or schedule a special seminar or training session to get all of your warm leads together.

Once you've moved your prospect to the “warm” level, it's time to proceed in closing the sale. This will be easier to do if you somehow engage the prospect. You can do this by conducting a one-on-one call, making a presentation or presenting a proposal, estimate or contract.

What's the difference between marketing, advertising and sales?

This is a common question and a lot of people confuse these various terms. First of all, marketing encompasses a wide range of both analysis and tactics. For example, marketing involves doing customer analysis, including market segmentation, market perceptions and market sizing, but also competitive analysis and reactions, target segment selection, positioning, branding, advertising, sales, promotions, channels of distribution arrangement and management, product line decisions, sales force management and more. You can see that marketing involves numerous activities

Advertising is a marketing tactic. It involves a number of activities to be sure, but it really focuses on communicating a message to the market (which it partly shares with Public Relations).

Sales also is a marketing tactic, as this typically is what the sales force does. But it's marketing's job to focus the entire marketing effort (of which the sales force is one part) toward providing what customers want and gaining a sustainable strategic advantage.

How do sales and marketing complement each other?

Sales and marketing complement each other by making an association that facilitates both means. Good marketing leads to better sales, whereas better sales ensure that new marketing and promotional trends are introduced into the market. Much focus and planning is done in the business sector to boost sales and marketing productivity. New and innovative plans are introduced to ensure that the sales process is backed up with proper and professional marketing.

There are several ways and modus operandi through which sales and advertising efficiency can be enhanced. Smart planning and wise investment can ensure that sales and marketing trends are carried out in a professional manner.

The numerous ways sales and marketing complement each other include:

– Marketing trends exclusively determine the amount of sales a business or product will have. Most businesses work hard to make marketing plans and strategies that will impact the general and public sector. The marketing plan helps increase business sales and attract potential buyers to the product. Consequently, this results in sales increase.

– Marketing is the only means to represent sales in the public and corporate sector. If the marketing mechanism is inappropriate, then the business will not get the proper build-up in the market and will find it relatively difficult to propel sales in a competitive market where making a brand name is very necessary.

– An organization's marketing promotion plans new and innovative ways to promote new and improved marketing standards that will complement sales by consequently helping sales betterment and better marketing productivity.

– Revenues generated from sales complement investments made for building new marketing mechanisms and strategies. Marketing a product requires financial investments and sales help to generate those investments. If sales are insufficient, then this could adversely affect the marketing strategy.

The major difference between sales and marketing is that sales refers to conserving assets by advertising products, while marketing is a mechanism through which sales mechanisms are introduced to the general market and the way through which the product is introduced into the market to increase sales. Therefore, marketing can be considered an integral part of sales, as it directly influences the amount of sales a company processes and makes.

Goals and results:

Marketing/sales promotion essentially strives to entice prospective customers to come to the seller. Sales/personal salesmanship strives to locate and go to the buyer. Logic and common sense tell us that the former situation is preferable. A strong marketing/sales promotion program must have the overall effect of lowering a company's 'sales cost' and increasing lead and inquiry activity.

A balanced program now introduces an equally strong personal salesmanship effort to qualify the customer's need, offer the company's product in an attractive fashion and close the sale. Individual players in this effort ideally will have high product knowledge and application skills. Nothing puts a customer in the comfort zone or closes the sale faster than dealing with a salesperson who demonstrates a substantial depth of product knowledge combined with sincere prudence in making a good application. The net result of such an effort invariably will be a sales increase at lower sales cost and at better margins.

Earlier, I stressed the advisability of a balanced program in all sizes of organizations. The relative scope of activity may range from the independent “sales rep” maintaining and implementing a small monthly direct mail program to the larger manufacturer who utilizes every form of advertising, public relations, trade shows and media support activities.

If the need for strong sales promotional effort is demonstrated and justified by our peers in consumer product marketing – where every chimney represents a potential customer for a kitchen broom – then the same need is even more justified in industrial capital equipment. Not every smokestack is a qualified potential customer for an expensive, powered floor-sweeping machine.

Do an ongoing and thorough job of telling the whole industrial world about your unique product or capability and then when the need exists for your unique product, system or service, informed potential customers will seek you out. A capital equipment manufacturer with an effective and balanced program will have maintained a high level of public awareness and made his product “easy to find” and “less costly to sell.” If it costs less, you sell more.

A strong promotional marketing program offers additional benefit of giving the sales force the advantage of a degree of choice in which inquiries they pursue the hardest. Obviously, the more leads or inquiries generated, the greater likelihood that there will exist a higher number of good matches between prospective customers and your company's product or service. The element of choice tends to improve your percentage of closed sales and improve margins on sales made. Once again, a picture emerges: lower sales cost, higher volume and increased profit.

There are pitfalls inherent to a pronounced imbalance in either direction. In rare cases where the marketing/sales promotional program is weighted more heavily than the sales capability, the problem is more apparent and thus may be diagnosed and remedied.

The more common pitfall is a lack of sufficient marketing/sales promotional activity. This shortcoming often is misdiagnosed as a sales/personal salesmanship problem, when the real culprit is an organization using expensive salespeople to do a job that can be done far better and at much lower cost by traditional marketing disciplines of advertising and public relations.

No capital equipment manufacturer can hope to realize maximum sales efficiency without a carefully planned and structured program drawing equally on the two principal distribution vehicles: sales and marketing.