Sales versus marketing

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THE role of marketing is to deliver leads to sales and the role of sales is to give marketing detailed information on customers so that marketing can generate new ideas to forward to the sales department who should then go out and sell a product or service.

As there is a very thin line between the two functions it may be very difficult to harmonise the two roles.

Sales may feel that marketing is not as important and that more resources should be allocated to sales rather than marketing.

Marketing may also feel that many ideas are generated but sales are not efficient in their execution of them.

Given this debate, I have also often been asked where my strength lies. While I have always written more articles about marketing, most of my career and training has been in sales.

Given my training, let me explain sales, at least in the way I understand it.

Sales fall under direct marketing. Most industrial companies rely on a professional sales force to locate prospects, develop them into customers and to grow the business.

Companies like Tupperware take direct selling very seriously and their businesses have grown as a result. It is therefore not debatable that sales forces are critical in most businesses.

It is also not debatable that they are a huge cost to the organisation as it sometimes takes at most four calls to close a sale.
In the meantime the time, fuel and labour would have to be paid for.

It is important therefore to improve the productivity of the sales force through better selection, training, supervision, motivation and compensation.

Sales forces have the duty to:

  • Prospect
    This is the role concerned with searching for leads. Leads may be obtained from databases that are held in the company given by the marketing department. They may also be referrals from satisfied customers and also from other concerned stakeholders among many sources.
  •  Target
    Targeting is when the sales force decides how to allocate their time among prospects and customers.
    For example a sales force may decide to spend 20% of their time on prospects and then 80% on customers.
    The ratio may be varied depending on the particular circumstance the sales force is hoping to address.
  • Communicate
    The sales force has a role to communicate the company’s products or service to both prospects and customers.
  • Sell
    Approaching, presenting, answering questions, overcoming objections and closing sales are also the responsibility of the sales force.
  • Service
    The sales force has a duty to provide service to the customer. This includes consulting on problems, rendering technical assistance, arranging financing and expediting delivery.Service delivery team meeting that may include production and finance may be organised by the sales force to ensure smooth operation and timely delivery of customer expectation.

    Training of the customer on uses of product or service is important.

    A good example of this is the fact that EcoCash trains all its agents before releasing them to carry out the agency.

  • Information gathering
    Information is power. The sales force has a duty to conduct market research and doing intelligence work.When policies change, the affected companies would want to know in good time so as to align themselves well. Information is so important that businesses would even buy some of it from specialist organisations who provide it.
  • Allocate
    For example in the case of shortages, I am sure most Zimbabweans understand a scenario of shortages, the sales force has the prerogative to decide which customers should get what amount of product and which customers should go without.The most loyal customers would obviously be considered first in product allocation. I am reliably informed that when there was a shortage of bread, Haefelis saved bread for their loyal customers.

Needless to say, in conclusion, that all sales forces need to be well turned out to command respect and credibility from their customers.

Till next week keep reading the red publication and remain brand savvy.