Sales vs. Marketing

Depending on the industry they’re in, some entrepreneurs use the terms “sales” and “marketing” somewhat interchangeably. I don’t use these terms interchangeably. Clear definitions are important, because when we work alongside sales or marketing teams, we need to make sure that we have all the right people at the table!

I teach my clients to think about the whole sales cycle as a ray. Remember the term from geometry? A ray looks like a line with a starting point on one end and an arrow on the other. It’s the top line in the diagram listed below. The ray represents sales in this analogy, because a sales process has a distinctive start, when someone initiates the buying process with someone else.

It doesn’t matter where the lead comes from, but in sales, we begin with a lead of some kind. You might have a referral or a response to a campaign. You meet a person at a trade show, or you directly prospect someone with a cold call. This person or company is your lead, and when someone initiates a sales conversation with someone else, that lead is the beginning of the sales process, the dot on the geometric ray.

Marketing is not a ray. Marketing, in geometry terms of the diagram, is a line. The line goes in both directions and never stops. Marketing is on-going, since you can market to prospective clients as well as current clients and former clients.

When I talk about marketing, I like to encourage people to think about what a sustainable, reasonable marketing pace is for their business. Perhaps it’s a monthly email. Perhaps the entrepreneur can post on the appropriate social media channel several times per week, sharing their expertise with the world. I encourage my clients to choose something they can maintain regularly because marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.

So, we’ve discussed that sales and marketing are not the same thing. However, they do happen at the same time. Once you have your definitions clear, it is important to double check your language. You want to make sure that the way you talk about how you help your clients is consistent through both sales and marketing.

Regardless of the size of the company, be sure the employees’ LinkedIn profiles, Facebook profiles, bio on your association and industry websites, your company website, sales emails, and any brochures, all describe how you help your clients in the same way.

Companies hire me to work with sales teams, and I often find that the marketing material provided to me about my new client often doesn’t match the way the sales team talks about how they help their clients. Make sure your company clearly defines marketing, sales, and how you help. Having the same words listed everywhere, including your sales scripts, ensures your value proposition is clear to the world. Consistency also serves your prospects and creates a smoother buying experience.

To learn more about Catherine’s community, How Good Humans Sell ™, check her site in this shared link, or follow her on LinkedIn.

Catherine Brown

Catherine Brown is a veteran of 25+ years of B2B (business-to-business) selling and launched her first sales consulting firm in 2003. She now runs the sales training firm, ExtraBold Sales, where she coaches others to sell with confidence. Her sales system includes psychology research that gets at the heart of why people don’t sell effectively. In her book, How Good Humans Sell™: The Proven Path to B2B Sales Success, she combines best sales practices with social psychology principles. The training can be used in combination with other sales training programs to help sales professionals overcome the hesitation that keeps them from closing more business.

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