Marketing or Sales: What to Do?

Most companies have limited cash available to invest in growing revenue. A typical choice is between investing in marketing or sales efforts. The obvious answer is that most companies need both but the figuring how much to invest can be daunting. You need marketing to improve the strength of the brand and improve awareness. And most companies (except eCommerce enabled sites) need a person to "close the deal".

Let's look at each area in detail. 

Scope
Generally, marketing activities have a broad scope. Although advertising can be targeted to a certain audience, the main objective is to reach as many people as possible with your message. Sales on the other hand is focused. Most sales people concentrate their efforts on prospects (synonymous with leads) who will spend the most and are the most likely to buy.

Timing
Sales is always focused on the short term - closing deals, quickly. Getting a commissions cheque as soon as possible is what motivates most sales people. Marketing on the other hand has a longer term objectives over the following 6 months to a year.

Strategy
In broad terms there are two marketing strategies: push and pull. A push strategy involves taking the product to the buyer and ensuring that the buyer is aware of the features and benefits of the product. For example, a sales person will do a demo for a prospective buyer. Or a company will provide product samples at a trade show. These are push techniques.

In contrast, advertising, referrals, promotions, and discounts are used to pull prospects to a location where they can buy the product. Here is a good article on the difference between push and pull

Acquisition Funnel
In the work that Joanne O'Connell and I are doing in the area of marketing metrics we talk about the concept of an Acquisition Funnel.

As you can see in this funnel, we have combined marketing functions (increasing Impressions, Visits and Prospects) with sales functions (increasing Offers and Outcomes - I wrote about our unique concept of Outcomes previously). 

Tension
One issue that often arises between marketing and sales departments is the number and quality of sales prospects. Clearly it is the responsibility of marketing to generate prospects; why else does marketing exist. But if marketing doesn't generate the right type of sales leads then they are not doing their function as effectively as they should. The fix in this case is making sure that marketing efforts are getting to the right audience and that the creative portion is strong enough to attract attention. The video, Battle at F-Stop Ridge, created by The Camera Store, a company in Calgary, is an excellent example of excellent creative.

Similarly, marketing may be generating qualified leads but sales may have a low Take Rate (sales/offers). In this case, the sales team needs training, motivation, better tools, better processes and potentially restructuring. 

Where to Invest - Marketing or Sales?
Clearly a company has to invest in both marketing and sales. Both need the other. Both live and die by the effectiveness of the other. Sales needs marketing to improve the company's brand strength, increase product awareness and generate sales leads. Marketing needs sales to close deals, increase revenue and generate cash for pay cheques and future marketing investments.