Last month, I was conducting a sales training focusing on the sales process as outlined in my book, Mastering Your Sales Process. Near the end of the training, one of the participants asked why I didn’t spend time talking about marketing driven sales models, and how their company can use marketing to get the client to pick up the phone and call them, already pre-disposed to the product they are selling?

From a macro perspective, the perspective of generating revenue for the business, it is not a bad question. The problem with the question is that it confuses the appropriate role of marketing, branding, PR and the like with sales. I see this issue come up a lot, so let me post on the differences here, and a way for our friend at the training to think about the result he wants to get in the context of what is happening at his company.

NOTE: These are my definitions, and they are simplified towards to goal differentiating between sales and marketing. If you feel that there is something that really needs to be added to these definitions in this context, please do leave a comment.

Definition of Marketing: I think of marketing as an endeavor in which single messages are broadcasted to a single, large group. There may be multiple single messages going to multiple groups, but the basic “unit of currency” is a focused message going out in bulk to a group. Interactive marketing and social media marketing make the complexity and execution more nuanced, but even there, if it is a message going to a group, it is marketing

Marketing Key Concept: Marketers are successful when they understand the aggregate hot buttons of a target audience, the best medium through which to reach each audience and the appropriate messaging strategy for both the audience and the medium

Definition of Sales: I think of sales as an endeavor of persuasive communication, executed one-on-one or in a relatively small group

Sales Key Concept: Generally speaking, salespeople are successful when they successfully seek to understand the compelling reasons for which a prospect will take action toward buying the product or service offered by the salesperson

So why does all of this matter, and where does this leave the guy from the training?

After he asked his question, I asked him to imagine the phone call he believes that marketing can help to materialize. We had just gone through the seven step sales process as laid out in my book (Leads, Prospecting, Qualifying, Needs Analysis, Proposal, Objections and Closing). I asked him to identify where we were in the process at the time this marketing generated phone call was received.

In this context, the answer was clear: as soon as the person called, we had a lead – someone we could talk to about buying our product. That was about it. Marketing, branding, PR and the like might have made the person more positively pre-disposed towards our product or service, but the prospect is still a lead, nothing more, regardless of their pre-disposition.

Prospecting, where we ask permission to discuss the needs of the client had not happened.

Qualifying, where we find out if the person we are talking to is both able to and likely to buy had not happened.

We had not done a needs analysis, or made a proposal, or answered objections, or closed the deal.

Now it is possible that if the company receiving the marketing generated inquiry was selling a book, a boxed software product, a toy, or some other physically well defined commodity, the caller might call in based on the marketing and said “hey, I read about your stuff – please send some to me”. In this case, there is no need to go through all of the steps.

But the training was not for a company that sold books, etc. Most people who read blogs like this are selling something that requires them to engage with their prospects in order to understand the needs, and the circumstances that might surround a sale before an offer can be made and certainly before a deal can be consummated. This is often called a complex sale, and sales has to do some stuff to convert initial interest – however it was generated – into a signed deal.

So in this case, marketing was able to generate a lead. Perhaps a qualified lead, perhaps an enthusiastic lead, perhaps a lead inclined to take action – but according to our definition of sales and marketing, just a lead. Once the lead is generated, then all of the “sales stuff” needs to happen to get the prospect through to a close. This work – the sales process – is typically NOT the job of marketing.

This may all seem a bit semantic, but it is important to know where you are in the process, who is who, who does what, and what a name on a piece of paper or on the other end of the phone really means. You may get a call one day from someone who is totally turned on by your product based on what they read in an advertisement, or a blog, or in a review, or from a friend. But they are a lead – and if you are selling a product with ANY level of complexity at all, you will need to do the sales work to carry them through to the end.

This is easier to do if you recognize this truth, along with the sales related limits of even the most effective marketing, in a sales environment that is even the least bit complex.

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David