September 27, 2013 9.53 am This story is over 121 months old

Marketing is no substitute for selling

No substitute: Susan Marot explains why good marketing isn’t where your sales pitch should end.

Anyone who knows me knows I am passionate about selling. Selling is a process that ends with the buyer exchanging money (or something of equal value) for a seller’s goods or services. An effective sales person influences the process to make that exchange happen in the shortest possible time. So if that is selling, what is the definition of marketing?

The aim with marketing is not to sell, but to generate interest and encourage people to want to know more. Marketing targets a large number of prospects with the hope that some may buy, whereas selling proactively engages with a smaller more specific target using people skills to make that sale a reality. In my humble opinion, marketing stimulates interest, selling brings in the money.

Start with marketing

Marketing is a very important part of the sales process, but it only accounts for the beginning. In recent years, social media has helped businesses to better engage with their buyer, asking questions and presenting solutions through the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. However, social media will never replace the rest of the sales process, such as objection handling, closing and — most importantly — delivery of the product or service i.e. the follow-up. Remember if you don’t deliver, you won’t get paid.

Don’t rely just on marketing

Having worked with many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) I am astounded by their reliance on marketing as their main route to get money through the door. Take retail for example: how often have you been into a fabulous looking shop, only to find no one engages with you? If you are anything like me, you probably turned around and went back through the doors with your money still burning a hole in your pocket.

An effective sales process would grab that person and encourage them to spend, spend, spend. Marketing alone struggles to do that, but selling can. So why put all your time and effort, as well as hard-earned cash, into something that will not deliver for your business?

The impression I get when speaking to SMEs is that they often don’t like the thought of selling to a real live person, much preferring to keep their distance and hide behind a marketing campaign. This fear of personal rejection means they hope that their marketing activities alone will deliver the sales their business needs. However, if they could learn the sales skills necessary to improve their performance, and in turn their confidence, how much more successful and happier do you think they would be?

Now don’t get me wrong, marketing alone can be extremely successful. Check out on YouTube. Just 48 hours after launching a promotional video on the site, the company went from zero orders to 12,000! Amazing story, and the founder became a multi-millionaire in months. However, back in the land of reality, do you really think that approach would work for every business?

So, are you selling or just marketing? Do you think your business might grow faster if you could better solve your customer’s needs, and get paid more handsomely for it? Remember, marketing is only the first step to effective selling — it isn’t a substitute!

Lincolnshire-bred business woman Susan Marot runs Marot Associates Ltd, which helps businesses sell more by improving their sales process. Susan works with them to design, improve or even deliver the sales the company needs. A sales person for almost 30 years, Susan is often engaged to speak at events on selling and has regular articles published by the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management in "Winning Edge".