The Relationship Between Selling and Marketing

A recent article appeared in the Baltimore Business Journal asking "Are you selling or just marketing?" In the article, Matt Neuberger noted some important aspects that a salesperson should engage in such as becoming "more personalized and should be designed to understand a client or prospect." Selling he noted "involves real buy-in." He then goes on to note marketing tasks that really aren't part of sales, but which many salespeople spend their time doing, such as gathering information, writing elaborate proposals, or heaven forbid, lowering prices.

Where Mr. Neuberger falls short is a classic point at which many business people, especially sales people fall short. He states, "Selling is the next step from marketing." In many business peoples minds, marketing attracts and sales closes. Unfortunately, in trying to clear up the confusion between marketing and sales, the author has confused marketing taken two subsets of marketing - namely research and advertising - and confused the with marketing as a whole.

The real reason, marketing and sales get confused is that sales is actually a subset of marketing. It is a specialized skill with in the marketing cycle - often referred to as the customer cycle - in which the deal is struck. Striking or closing the deal is the role of sales, but the customer cycle and the role of marketing is by no means over. Marketing must continue forward with what is perhaps the most important part of the customer cycle: retention.

The conflict that often arises between sales and marketing really stems from the ego of the salesperson - myself included - in thinking that he is somehow separate from the marketing department. This creates an "us" and "them" mentality. The reality is that sales is a specialized subset of marketing as much as much as market research, advertising, public relations, and customer service. Companies who grasp this concept are creating Chief Marketing Officers to coordinate all of the above including sales.

I do agree with Mr. Neuberger on his main point: salespeople should be focused on engaging people on a personal level to solve their individual problems and ink the deal.