Is Marketing Killing Sales? – by Doug Rice
There has been a lot of buzz in the blogosphere as of late regarding the ‘death of sales.’ What is meant by this catch phrase is that the salesperson is to a greater and greater extent becoming obsolete. A company is less and less reliant on the skill set of a salesperson to sell its product or service. The truth is, of course, that sales isn’t dying. It is merely being replaced. Marketing, the department at headquarters in the air-conditioned office, is killing sales. Marketing is becoming sales.
Marketing is no longer simply traditional television advertising. It is in-store displays, trade magazines, conferences, social media, internet pop-ups and banners, and–most effectively–word of mouth. Marketing sells ideas without people even knowing that they are buying. Only the most skilled of salespeople can pull that off.
Think about the last car you bought? Did you buy because of the passion of the salesman? Perhaps. But how did you first discover the car you bought? Did you see a commercial? Did you see it online? Did you read a post about the brand on Facebook? Oftentimes, even if it seems that the salesperson is persuading us to buy, it is probably the marketing working in our subconscious that leads us toward the product or service. That product or service resonates with us because it has, in reality, already been sold to us.
So, is there are any place left in the world for the salesperson. It is difficult if not impossible for a salesperson today to sell a product or service without it having first been marketed to the person to whom he or she is selling. Therefore, marketing has in a sense taken the job away from sales.
However, there is one aspect of the sales process that a salesperson may be better-equipped to handle. The one job that a salesperson has left is to close. All sales is now closing. Sales is about executing what marketing began. Salespeople no longer need to sell a product so much as they need to piggy-back on its marketing. A good salesperson will simply reinforce what drove a customer to a product or service in the first place.
In the B2B environment, marketing probably has much less of an effect on opening relationships. The longer the sales cycle, the more of a strategic role a salesperson plays in generating relationships with customers. Nevertheless, more often than not, the relationship will still be initiated by the marketing department. It’s very difficult (but not impossible), in today’s day and age, for a salesperson to grow a customer without the seed that is planted by marketing.
Are marketing and sales at war with one another? Perhaps. Marketing people may think that sales people are ubiquitous and sales people may think that marketing people are out of touch. The truth is, I think, that they need each other. They are on the same team. Marketing people are openers and sales people are closers. A salesperson can’t get a customer’s attention without the work of marketing, yet a marketing person will never actually be there when the purchasing decision is made. The companies that succeed will be the companies whose marketing and sales departments are a team.