Selling Versus Marketing


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“Without us” – the salesman said – “the company wouldn’t have the success needed”.

And the marketing specialist answered: “You couldn’t sell anything properly, without us !”

Who is right ?? Let’s look a bit more into the details of their jobs.

What is the duty of salespeople ?
They normally sell a known product to known customers, in a known region and into known market-segments. They – should – know the competition of their buyers. They – should – know the birthdays, hobbies and family status to give a call from time to time and – of course – the nature of products they buy. They are – mostly – technical experts in what they are selling and for sure – let’s assume a distributor with some kind of an assortment of products for a specific clientele – they try to sell as much as they can of the whole distribution programme to their respective clientele.

In addition – if a technical product is looked at – they may also keep the client informed about technical changes, take perhaps care of the regular service and that’s it. If the product has only a certain lifetime they will certainly contact the client in time again and look for further sales.

The responsibility of a proper marketing manager is slightly different.

Normally he is more a kind of a ‘generalist’, i. e. his duty is to ‘look over the plate’s edge’ and to maximize the sales and profits for his company from the – worldwide – markets and to satisfy the customers to the utmost. That means that he plays the role of an inter-link between the company and the market/s, i. e. he has to take care that the markets get the products they want – e. g. green instead of yellow or blue, because it suits them more for whatever reason – and he has to provide all inhouse-departments with the information from the markets – which products they need to develop, manufacture and supply to be successful.

That includes specifically also all tasks like having the right distributors in the right places at the right time with the necessary qualifications and to support sales by proper advertising. Today the whole Internet activities are added, so that the client – wherever he is – has the possibility to decide about the way HE wants to buy.

He does market research in order to see where and how big potential markets are, whether they fit or could fit into the line of products the company produces and/or whether perhaps new products could be derived from the existing ones, and he informs in-turn his in-house counterparts from the development and technical departments regarding the findings.

He has to watch the competition regarding their existence, their activities, their sales ways, their sales force, their public relations and their advantages/disadvantages compared to the own products and sales ways as well as to the clients’ needs as far as known to him.

In other words: The marketing department plays the role of an inter-link between the market/s and the company and is responsible as well for each and every action of as its presentation towards the public/the clientele.

Thus he builds-up a ‘Corporate Standing’ of the company in the public opinion.

In addition he is also responsible for the financial result/profit – i. e. he has to find out at which prices specific products can be sold into the marketplaces and he has to see to it that the calculation of selling prices is made-up in a way which gives the company the profits needed.

Who is more important then – with view to the statements at the beginning ?

In fact the salespeople can’t sell properly without the marketing people whereas the marketing people do merely a strategic job – although they should have their own regular contacts across the client base – and, as said before are the ‘inter-link’ between the market/s and the company – and, they couldn’t do their job properly without the salespeople.

In order to guarantee a smooth and perfect work of both they have to cooperate – and in most of the well-known companies sales are part of the marketing department as they are responsible towards the owners for the success of the company.

So the marketing department should know – via permanent contacts/meetings with the sales- people – the needs of the existing clientele, the behaviour and pricing of the competition at these clients, the future plans of the clients with regard to their products and/or the final clients = the clients of their clients => the real market. This can be found out e. g. by means of questionnaires which the marketing department elaborates and which mirror the questions of all other inhouse departments towards the markets.

Based on such information from the markets the marketing department can as well look for new/additional salespeople/distributors as set goals to be reached – taking into account the possibly changing duties of them to be seen here – by the whole selling force – in order to fulfill the needs of the company and the Marketing Plan, which has to be available anyway for a proper future development of the company.

Michael Richter
International Marketing and Sales Consultant
Michael Richter consults with SMEs from all parts of the world on how to market and sell strategically. His has more than 3 years of experience in five continents and more than 5 countries. Richter gives internal lectures on international marketing matters, with specific focus on the individual client.



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