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Monday, January 07, 2008

Marketing and sales -- the continuum (2)


Where does "marketing" end and "sales" begin. In a provocative posting "Why Marketing Wastes Money" on Bnet.com's Sales Machine Blog, Geoffrey James advocates that much of passes for marketing is really wasted effort and unquantifiable pap -- that the true and only measure of the marketing's value in the business-to-business context is whether the marketers can generate actual and meaningful sales leads.

He may have a point, to a point, that is. Big words can be put around little concepts; and marketers -- not wanting to be seen doing the dirty work of actually selling anything -- I think sometimes wall themselves in ivory towers away from the real issues of their role. These days, salespeople, that is really good salespeople, are far more effective than the pushy stereotypes of the plaid-jacket used car dealers; they connect with their current and prospective clients, look for and develop value for everyone, and build a sustainable business.

The weakness in James' argument -- that marketing's one useful role is in generating sales leads -- is that in fact the most important part of the marketing/sales process is what happens AFTER the sale is concluded. Do clients receive real value; is the experience of doing business with us so satisfying that our customers eagerly tells friends and the public how great the process is; to the point that they will not only do business with us again, but eagerly refer friends and colleagues (and complete strangers) to us?

So, here marketing focuses on the entire client/business experience -- and this experience can be measured, both formally through surveys and the like, and informally by watching, learning, observing and (perhaps most importantly) participating in the client experience process.

Marketing is not just about getting leads for the sales department, I believe. It is about respecting and connecting the business and its clients. But it doesn't hurt to get some leads, as well.

2 comments:

Sonny Lykos said...

I've always thought as in "Permission Marketing", done successfully, marketing creates sufficient consumer interest to initiate that potential consumer action to meet with the sales person. As far was where does "marketing" end and "sales" begin, "marketing" never ends because the sales person, before, during, and after the sales, marketing never stops. It's an integral part of the "branding" process.

"OK, I'm here" says the customer to the marketing. "Now prove to me why I should buy your product/service". And the sale and the "after" sale, validates to the customer that the "marketing" was truthful. So in the customer's perception, the marketing is always on his mind. "Was I deceived or was the message true."

I just went thru that with a collision body repair company. I got my pickup this afternoon after dropping it off Thursday late afternoon. Progressive Insurance Co. delivered as it's "marketing" stated. The repair company "delivered" as marketed by Progressive Ins. They even called me twice just to keep me updated as to the repairs and expected completion date, which was today. The services were so good that I even felt good while paying my $500 deductible. And I was handed a certified paper of a lifetime warranty from Progressive.

Marketed - provided as stated; 3rd party person did the same as a subcontractor of the insurance company, and I felt good about the entire process, and result. So again, see my first paragraph above.

So marketing is not a waste of money. Instead, when recognized and acknowledged as an integral part of branding, it's a critical part of the entire selling process.

Mark Buckshon said...

Sonny, great points -- showing how supplier relationships and genuine client service interconnect to create the meaningful marketing experience. Best of all, the simple steps and courtesies cost virtually nothing in a financial sense; but created a sense of value that transcends the usual insurer/client/claims relationship.