October 24, 2014
A few weeks ago, Amelia was talking to her friend Rise about hiring sales people. Rise owns a flooring company and she’s hired several sales people over the years.
While talking about how hard it is to find good sales people, Rise said, “Marketing people always say they’re sales people, but sales people never claim to be marketing people.”
That was a real “ah-ha” moment for me. Since I’ve always heard sales and marketing used together, I assumed if you can do one, you can do the other, but that’s simply not true. Each one requires different types of skills and activities with very little overlap.
Marketing people think about messaging, imagery, mediums, channels, frequency, psychology, etc. They communicate with a large number of people in absentia. Their goal is to combine all of these things in a way that touches their audience and gets them to take an action. It’s a passive approach to customer acquisition.
Sales people, on-the-other-hand, think about scripts, conversations, overcoming objections, rapport, asking for the sale, winning the deal, etc. They usually communicate with one or two people at a time and their goal is to build the “know, like, trust” relationship so prospects will buy from them. It’s a very direct approach to customer acquisition.
In terms of personality, marketing people need to be very analytical and detail oriented in order to understand their audience and craft the right message to achieve the desired outcome.
Money isn’t a marketing person’s primary motivation, which is why we rarely pay them commissions. Instead, they’re more concerned with the effectiveness of their work, such as the number of people who took action as a result of their message.
Sales people, at least the good ones I’ve met, don’t have analytical personalities. In fact, they typically hate the details. Their talents lie in their interpersonal skills that enable them to relate and connect on an individual level.
Sales people are also very money motivated, which is why we pay them big, fat commissions on their sales. They want to sell as much as possible so their commission check is as big as possible. That’s what allows them to persevere through all the “no’s” they regularly hear from prospects.
As you can see, sales and marketing are two completely different things and require two completely different personality types.
It’s obvious to me why sales people rarely claim to be marketing people. They don’t think of cold-calling or networking as “marketing” activities. Those are “sales” activities.
What’s not so obvious to me is why marketing people so often think they’re sales people. The goal of marketing is often to generate sales, but that alone does not make you a sales person. The end result may be the same, but the way you get there is completely different.
As an employer, this distinction is very important for you to understand. In almost every business model, especially service businesses, Sales comes before Marketing. The revenue generated by Sales is what pays for Marketing, which leads to more sales.
If your goal is to generate more sales in the short-term…you need to hire a sales person, not a marketing person. You can usually spot the difference on their resumes by looking at how they describe the methods they used to get sales.
Sales people talk about cold-calling in-person and over-the-phone. They talk about networking and relationship building. They talk about sales goals and quotas.
Marketing people? They use the word “marketing” on their resumes…a lot.
Sales and marketing may commonly be used together, but like Rise says, that doesn’t make them the same. Being able to recognize the difference could save you a lot of time and money.