The functions of Marketing and Selling are very different. If you ask a number of people to define each term separately, you may find that you get as many explanations as people you ask — maybe more. For example: Marketing is part of Selling, Selling is part of Marketing, Marketing is about advertising, Selling deals directly with customers, and so on. This confusion can reduce the potential for success in both.
The purpose of both Marketing and Selling is to generate additional sales from existing and potential customers. However, the two processes are alike only in the sense that both deal with customers (or potential customers).
However, as you study the following graphic, you’ll begin to see that the Marketing and Selling functions are very different in their timing and methodology. Understanding and appreciating the important aspects of each one will make a difference in your success.
Marketing is anything you do that informs you about current and prospective clients or customers (called “prospects”). In the graphic, the direction of information flow is inward toward your company.
- Marketing Goal — learn about the demographics of those prospects who might buy your products or services, and why — that is, their specific needs and wants.
- Marketing Tools — asking questions and listening for information, offering options for discussion.
Four of the most powerful words in any effective marketing process are: Ask questions and listen.
The fundamental task of marketing has nothing to do with getting a message inside anyone’s head. The goal of marketing is to understand what’s going on inside the customer’s head so well that you are able to create a message that harmonizes with what the customer or prospect is thinking. In marketing, we are not trying to change anyone’s mind. Instead, our job is to “make an offer” that coincides with the goals, objectives, desires or needs of the customer. To summarize our marketing philosophy, it is not what you want to sell that counts, but what the customer wants to buy. This is what must occupy our attention.
~ John R. Graham, Marketing Times, March/April 1992
Or, as Stephen R. Covey said “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. (The 7 habits of highly effective people: habit 5)
Selling is about converting prospects into buyers of your products and services. In the graphic above, the direction of information flow is outward from your organization. Anything you do or use which informs or tells a prospective customer about you and your products and/or services, with a goal of persuading the prospect to buy is selling.
- Selling Goal — persuade a prospective customer to buy.
- Selling Tools — informing and telling, including all types of advertising, brochures, promotions.
While both are necessary for Business Development and Sales, Marketing and Selling are two very different processes. You’ll find that the more effective you are at Marketing, the less you’ll need to rely on Selling. And the less Selling the better, since many buyers and sellers are uncomfortable with the Selling process (no one likes to be sold at).
Keep in mind: Marketing is asking; Selling is telling.
Unfortunately, too many Marketing & Sales courses over the past several decades have focused on improving Selling — opening techniques, closing techniques, overcoming objections, getting past the gatekeeper, etc. Most of these methods would be virtually unnecessary if only Marketing were the focus of Business Development instead of Selling.
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