Sales or Marketing? That is the question!

Sales or Marketing? That is the question!

yorrick“To be, or not to be- that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them.”

That’s the opening of a soliloquy spoken by Prince Hamlet in the so-called “nunnery scene” of William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Act III, Scene I.


I find this sentence extremely in line with a typical business dilemma of choosing whether to invest in sales or in marketing.

I came across with various businesses over the 2 decades-  with the last 10 years in startups of which the last 7 in Internet startups- of my career and I have gathered a good quantity (and quality!) of examples that support my thesis: all companies still haven’t properly got the right balance between sales and marketing. If you feel it more comfortable, I may turn the same questions as a chicken and egg dilemma: “what comes first: sales or marketing?”

Let me better explain this.

Believe it or not, there are plenty of exams at the university around marketing. You learn marketing is (let’s simplify this) the combination of the “4 Ps”, which means: taking care of Promotions and Placement of a given Product and also define its right Pricing. Why? to SELL. So the thing is: do your marketing the right way, and basically your product will sell by itself.

What is today the understanding of marketing in all companies? Get the right sales people, pay them a lot, send them all over the world to meet with prospects, prepare presentations, manage accounts and then eventually spend in advertising but hey, for marketing, let’s have zero budget and a couple of interns running it. And possibly running it in its entirety, from design, to images, to print ads, commercials, collateral, social media, and don’t forget the company website and maybe why not CRM and PR.

To me it does sound very close to Shakespeare’s dilemma of waiting for the fortune vs take arms in a sea of troubles.

Think for a moment: what is marketing in your company? And what is sales?

The two shall be complementing each other. What comes first? Who manages what?

I have seen at every economic crisis companies’ first move is to cut marketing budget, then marketing departments, and only ultimately they touch sales budgets and staff. One of the things that I liked the most out of a conference of tech businesses back in the years was that with these new technology revolutions that bring new (tech) products and services into worldwide markets, as companies experience crisis, the only thing to do is invest in marketing. because if you won’t make your product cool and if you can’t get it to be seen as a “must-have”, even your best salesperson won’t make it. And meanwhile, your competitor may have got enough funds to market it before and better than you.

So are sales not important? (Oh, forgot to ask a provoking question: name any exams at the university that are around sales)

Not at all! Sales are of paramount importance. Yet done the right way. Still, having a commercial attitude is not of all sales. With markets becoming more complex and more exposed by competition, thanks to the new way of sharing information with all newly available technologies, commercial roles demand a mix of PR, networking, memory, ability, interpersonal attitude, organised mindset, analytical capability, empathy, communication ability, presentation ability, understanding of competitive advantages and positioning of those into clients’ needs and showing it the best possible way. Ultimately? the real goal is to create in clients that “must-have” feeling.

Which bring this back to marketing. There’s no marketing without sales and vice-versa. And marketing is a necessary step of sales.

In startups, both elements get even a higher importance: if you are not good at marketing your product, nobody will ever know how good is your product, and to do so you need to invest in a good resource and with a good budget. Also, if you don’t invest in the right commercial team, and your quotations will be poorly presented, not organised, you won’t follow up the right way with the right owner in the client’s side, you’ll not sell either.

But not only. With all these new products and technologies heading into all businesses’ offices every day, those who have operate off the digital path may feel overwhelmed by such a great portfolio of possible solutions for their digital transformation. As a marketer, my suggestion is: keep it as simple as you can (KISS), detail, organise, share, maintain contact, act as a true facilitator and helper. Meet in person, call instead of email be in time, respect the deadlines of your client, like you would expect others to respect your deadlines. Build trust. There’s such a lack of trust in technologies, turn this into a positive for you.






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