Why marketing can’t fix a sales problem

I’m sure you know that old saying in the headline; “you can lead horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

That’s what comes to mind when I hear people espouse marketing as THE solution to a business’s lack of income.  It’s part of the solution, a very important part, but it is not the complete solution; there’s a missing piece to the jigsaw puzzle.

And that is sales; the skills to turn a lead into a sale - to close the deal. 

There was a time when sales was an honoured profession, but then somehow the term “salesman” became somewhat downgraded, even slightly sleazy, associated with shonky used car salesmen, or real estate – with apologies to both those honourable professions. 

In my view sales skills are one of those lost skills.  I have lamented before that I don’t seem to hear of sales training as much as I did years ago, of people planning their sales territory, of how to prospect for new business, of the essentials of a “sales conversation”, of how to listen, and, most importantly, how to close a sale.  See:

Businesses need both, so let’s examine their respective roles, and how you can use them.  But first you need to understand that marketing, like sales, is not what it used to be. 

If you do a little research you will find dozens of definitions of marketing.  Here are just two:

Marketing is nothing more than educating your prospects and clients to understand, appreciate and desire the self-serving benefits, advantages and results of your services to them, and wanting to have those results for themselves, because they trust you as a purveyor of it.”  Jay Abraham

“Marketing is a process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives.”  American Marketing Association

The wise Peter F. Drucker wrote, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

Focus Marketing on the Marketplace - If marketing were supposed to focus on your product, it would be called “producting.” But it’s not is it? It’s called “marketing,” which means that marketing is supposed to focus on the marketplace.

John Romero offers the following advice, “In marketing I've seen only one strategy that can't miss - and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last.” 

That is important; you are not selling to everybody, but to those most likely to buy.

So marketing is about identifying your most likely customers, determining a compelling marketing message that will persuade that customer to buy from you, and not that competitor, and gets that message in front of them.  Marketers see themselves as generating the leads for sales people to convert.

It involves advertising, PR, segmenting, distribution, pricing and so on.  We were taught the 4 Ps of marketing were Price, Promotion, Product and Place, and all strategies arose out of how you combined and used these.  An early lesson I learnt was that if a different strategy was required, you were targeting a different segment.

Sean D’Souza suggests “marketing is all the hard work you do before you communicate. All the tactics, the positioning, the branding and determining your target audience.”

But it doesn’t make the sale.  And that is where the complications begin.

Sue Barrett suggests “The reality is that the Internet, smart-phones and social media have changed the world of sales and marketing.” 

As I discussed in “Two Problems in How People Now Buy” the essence of the problem is that people no longer rely on magazine and other advertisements, at least to the extent they did, to find what they want.  Nor do they wait for the sales rep to call.  Salespeople have lost control of the process. 

Buyers are now researching online, instead of calling salespeople to discuss their problems and suggest solutions.  These days, buyers don't want to see a rep, or step into your business, until maybe the last 20 percent of their buying process. 

But here’s the rub, Sue Barrett suggests “Selling is not some black art or something to be feared. Selling is something to be studied, learned and applied just like Marketing.” 

To get to the point, if you need to grow, or if you are going through a down period, to turn to “marketing” to solve the problem is not the solution, at least not by itself. 

You need to know whom to sell to, and what ticks their boxes, but you also need to know HOW to sell.  Your team needs to know, and be able to implement effective and practical sales skills, to have a thorough grounding in the essential knowledge, skills, & mindsets needed to sell effectively.

I’m quoting from Sue Barrett here, and I’ve never spoken to her, but I like what she says in regards to sales skills, you need:

•    A sales system of core principles, skills, tools, templates, processes and models that lead to sales success.

•    How to plan your sales territory and prospect for new business with confidence

•    How to plan, open, direct a sales conversation and close a sale

•    How to understand customers' priorities and perspectives and effectively position your offerings

•    Insights into the application of the key skills of questioning, listening, responding to scepticism, indifference and obstacles

Whether you are versed in marketing as it was, or as it is now, you still have to make the sale.  Marketing leads the horse to the water, but the sale makes it drink.

Is your business travelling as well as it could, and should?

When clients approach me for coaching, clients with businesses that are underperforming despite the crippling hours and effort the owner is putting into them, it is not just marketing that is holding them back.  It is the lack of control they have over their business, and eight times out of ten that lack of control comes down to a lack of knowledge of what is happening in the business.

The problems lie in the dark recesses of the business, unseen and un-resolved.  Illumination is provided by knowledge of what is happening in the business, and how to respond.

Three spaces left –I have only three spaces left for a business assessment this month. 

If you would like to avail yourself of one, and there is no cost – this is my gift to you, book a Strategy Consult herehttp://www.profitsleakdetective.com/fast-track-to-cash-consult

© Copyright 2015 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 


#1 Toño 2019-03-08 15:24
You use sales skills throughout the day, everyday.

Add comment

Security code

Opt in above and get instant access to our exclusive report including…

Some profit losses are pretty obvious - so you fix them.
BUT, what if you don't know profits are leaking, cash out the door?
Possible leaks could be anywhere.
Are there some clues or symptoms that are tell-tales?

  • Get 21 Questions that help identify tell-tale clues of a profit leak.