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Sales vs. Marketing

Nov 29, 2007
Sales, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, is "The exchange of goods or services for an amount of money or its equivalent; the act of selling."

Although this is a good definition of a sales transaction, the process leading up to the sale, whereby a prospect is converted into a client, usually involves a lot more. Longer sales cycles and higher prices demand even more time to build client trust and requires more effort for them to stick with your product or service offering. Marketing, defined in offline terms, is what you do when you are not in front of the customer to persuade them to buy what you are selling. The act of sales is what you do or say on the phone or in person. By dissecting the definition between sales and marketing, we start to take a very different view of how we "sell" offline vs. online.

The promise of ecommerce was to give the consumer the lowest possible price. By cutting out brick and mortar retail centers, overhead costs are reduced and products were delivered more conveniently to a customer's home or businesses. Price and convenience have now become commoditized in many ecommerce verticals, causing companies to look more closely at their online marketing activities to attract prospects, increase sales and retain clients. In the online world, one could argue that there is no such thing as sales. There is no face time with the customer to persuade them or interact and appeal to their emotions. However, companies have learned to ask prospects what they want and then use technology to tailor their sales message to better connect with the problem or need. Also, companies like Amazon have pioneered predictive buying and can bolster sales by offering products related to items already purchased. These two examples best emulate offline selling by creating an artificial intelligence at the point of sale.

Online marketing can be best described by what the prospect experiences before and after the sale. The pre-sale activities are: Identifying prospects, sifting and sorting them into buying groups, raising the demand for a product and then lowering the barrier to a sale. After the sale, promotions, education, webinars and email drip letters can all be effective stick strategies. The key to successful marketing is the online message must be persuasive enough to get a prospect or client to act. Without action there can be no sale. So the area between marketing and sales become even more blurred when the entire process is strung together.

For business owners this gray area is not critical operationally and it's dangerous to get hung-up on the terminology. The important thing is to generate more sales. To best analyze a businesses current process, break the sales cycle into 5 parts:

1. Prospecting (identifying, sifting and sorting)
2. Conversion (raising demand and lowering barrier)
3. Creating a unique buying experience (what happens at the point of sale)
4. Saying thank you
5. Keeping in touch (retention)

Sounds simple right? You'd be amazed at how many companies drop the ball during most of these steps. By breaking your own sales cycle into these 5 steps and brainstorming with your team how each can be improved, you'll see large increases in revenues and profits.
About the Author
To view one of the most valuable prospecting and retention systems I've uncovered, Click Here

Brett Nordin is an entrepreneur and small business owner who writes about various topics including sales, marketing and business development.
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