Ask Score: What's the difference between sales and marketing?

Q: The term sales and marketing is often combined. How does one differ from the other?

A: Much has been written about these subjects but, in a nutshell, marketing is the process of creating customer awareness of a product or service. Whereas, sales is the actual follow-up with the customer. One cannot achieve success without the other.

To better understand how these two functions complement one another, let's take a closer look at each. Millions of dollars are spent each year advertising products. A 30-second Super Bowl ad can cost $3 million. Small businesses are encouraged to allocate 5 percent to 10 percent of gross sales to advertising, all in an effort to create brand awareness in a national or local market.

Throwing money at the issue is not the only solution. Business owners must understand how their products or service will impact the consumer. Promotions should be designed to not only create brand awareness but the belief that they will somehow make life safer, more convenient or enjoyable. Marketing should always answer the question Do I really need this?

Once you have a marketing plan in place that addresses a real consumer need, the next step is to convince them that you are the right person to provide the product or service.

Sales is the art of convincing someone to buy something. For the most part it is developing a personal one-one-one relationship with the customer, based on trust. Marketing can do but so much, ultimately it is the sales person who makes the difference.

The sales process has been described as anything that engages one with the customer on a personal level, rather than at a distance. Most successful sales people are extroverts and optimists.

They know that they will receive more declinations than acceptances of their offers. They also know that sales is a numbers game. Essentially, the more people you approach, the more sales you will make.

In conclusion, it is a mistake to consider sales and marketing as two unrelated functions. A well-conceived, integrated marketing to sales process can be an enormous advantage. Small businesses that understand the relationship are successful because the owner probably has worn both hats.

The volunteer counselors at SCORE can assist you in developing a strategic sales and marketing plan.

Gray Poehler is a volunteer with the Richmond Chapter of SCORE, Counselors to America's Small Business. To ask a question or request counseling, go to richmond.score.org/mentors. A counselor will respond. Select questions and answers will be featured in Business. To learn more about management issues facing small business and SCORE's workshops, go to their website or call (804) 771-2400, ext. 131.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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