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Marketing is Not Selling: Seeking an Alignment Between the Two
The Confusion around Sales and Marketing
Marketing being a large term, is often misunderstood and there are pretty strong reasons that it gives rise to such misunderstandings. Several times people confuse selling and marketing for synonymous terms. However, the two are distinct and understanding the difference between the two helps clarify some of the biggest confusions. Marketing, as Kotler states is a large term that involves nearly everything from product conception to the customer service including manufacturing and advertising. However, if people confuse sales and marketing then they must know that marketing is not just about pushing sales or about disposing everything that a company makes – bad or good. Marketing achieves some larger purposes too. The definition of marketing AMA has approved is “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”. Value is a key term used in the context of marketing that helps us build a better understanding of the purpose behind marketing. Marketing, as the above definition implies is about creating communicating, delivering and exchanging value and not just about exchanging or selling.
Need for Collaboration Between Marketing and Sales
Marketing keeps changing and this is a field that has seen sea changes happening within the last ten years. While human psychology is an important focus area for marketing, the delivery of marketing efforts depends on technology. Not just the delivery but the content of marketing has also kept changing starting with radio and television. The style and content both changed a lot with the arrival of the digital media and social media platforms. Sales platforms have also changed with the arrival of information technology and good selling is also good marketing. However, best sales persons let the customer and the product do the talking. They speak less and listen more. Most companies that are great at marketing are also good at selling. However, for them marketing starts right from the product and it is the product quality that decides the effectiveness of marketing in their case. The web has evolved dramatically and that has influenced the way both marketing and selling are being done. However, product quality and band image are still important factors without which marketing will remain ineffective. To sell well, you must have a great product and a great brand at hand. It is why Kotler includes these factors as a part of marketing. Moreover, all these functions from production to advertising and sales must act in tandem to generate high level sales. Apart from a good quality product there must be good form of advertising and great after sales service to generate high sales and revenue.
For better results marketing and sales departments must not remain disconnected. It is because their work is deeply interconnected. However, for them it is not always easy to go along together. Whenever, marketing fails to generate sales, it lays the blame on the sales team for its poorly executed and otherwise brilliant plan. In turn the sales team would lay the blame on the marketing team that it uses too much of the budget and sets prices very high. The budget used by marketing must instead go to the hiring of sales people. The sales team believes that marketing does not understand the people’s needs because it remains out of touch with the people. Marketing function has similar misconceptions about the sales function and that the sales people do not understand the larger market and they rely on individual customer experiences. All of this results in misconceptions and a lack of alignment which leads to poor results. When these functions are out of sync, both of them stumble. The mission of the sales function has not changed much but that of marketing has changed a lot. It is not just about creating product demand but also about better brand and product image. In this regard, an important thing to understand about marketing is that it has far long lasting implications than selling and selling is just a tip of marketing. Marketing happens after and before sales. The kind of quality you add to your product and its packaging too decides the impact of your marketing efforts.
Marketing is above all the other things in the process. Selling is related to products and marketing instead is related to needs. Marketers identify needs, they do not create them. The focus of marketing is to create genuine customer value and therefore marketers should take note of service, value and quality. In the 21st century, the power has passed into the hands of the customers and they are armed with information. They know their options well and evaluate information before buying any product. While selling has just short term implications and can be understood as a short term effort, marketing has long term implications, Even after you have sold a product, it is important to care for customer service and user satisfaction. In this way, marketing has deep value and it involves creating value for the customer as well as the brand. Organizations that want to derive value from their marketing efforts must focus on aligning the marketing and sales functions. If you have to improve the connection between the two departments, you must first focus on improving the communication that takes place between them. It is not simple like increasing communication because more communication will eat more time. It also can delay decisions. Apply disciplined communication for better results and improve feedback from the sales force. Every company must focus on improving the relationship between the two departments because that will bring the intimate knowledge that sales people have to the core of the company making it more usable and more effective.
Need for Partnership between Organizational Functions
In a business environment, the role of marketing is bigger than everything. It has always been big but has grown bigger in the 21st century. Now, it is not a one way communication because you do not just communicate with your customers but also let them communicate with you. It is also about engaging your customers better and creating a better reputation. However, for marketing and marketing communications to be effective, the marketing function must learn to collaborate with the other functions. The more it collaborates with the other functions, the better it will be for the organization’s health. It is even true in the case of marketing and sales. If these two functions can maintain a proper level of collaboration then it will be better for the sales and revenue of the organization. This can be achieved by maintaining disciplined communication between the two. Marketers must learn to engage all the functions with their ideas or they will only be considered over complaining and over consuming teams. Marketing will not be effective unless it gets support from all the other functions. The better the level of synchronization between these functions, the better will be the results from its efforts. As soon as the battle between marketing and sales ends, the efforts start having effect and start generating results. If these two functions can sit together, it will boost your top line and your bottom line. Aligning your functions gives you a chance to create better opportunities for managing your reputation too.
Kotler, P., Armstrong, G., & Cunningham, M. H. (2005). Principles of marketing. Toronto: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Calvin R., Sales Management, (2004), McGraw Hill Professional,
Pratap A., (2016), Marketing Versus selling – The Big Versus Small - Cheshnotes
Selling Versus Marketing
© 2017 Abhijeet Pratap