The terms “sales” and “marketing” are often used interchangeably, and many people have the title “VP of Sales and Marketing” just to be sure all the bases are covered. But there is a very important difference that can mean increased profits for you and your business.
In a nutshell here is the difference between sales and marketing:
- Sales involves deciding what you want to sell, and trying to persuade customers to buy it.
- Marketing involves finding out first what customers want, modifying your products or services accordingly, then offering it for sale.
Very few companies except the Fortune 500 giants follow this “real marketing” approach, but wow the difference it can make!
Recently a major magazine article about “My Biggest Failures” quoted major business leaders who made colossal mistakes. In almost every case they blamed their error on jumping to a costly decision without doing good market research first.
Sales and Marketing – A Real World Example
I once did a customer survey for a machinery manufacturer to find out what customers perceive and want. We discovered that many customers felt the company’s main product was too expensive, and that if they could find a cheaper alternative, they would be gone in a heartbeat.
It turns out that the customer actually had plans on the shelf for a lower-cost machine, so they took this feedback under consideration, turned the plans into a viable product, rolled it out at a trade show, and had tremendous new sales as a result.
The “Marketing Orientation” means orienting your business to meet the needs of the customer. You might “think” you know what their needs are, but the world is rapidly changing, so customer needs and perceptions change too. The best way to find out is to ask.
Realistically it is hard to get candid answers if someone from your company does the asking. This is a case when it pays to hire a skilled marketing firm or market research company to do the asking for you. Even a dozen or so properly structured telephone interviews of some key customers can provide vital feedback and insights. You and your business will profit from “real marketing” that is oriented to meeting the real needs of your customers.