In a recent interview that I had with a really big SEO Guru I was asked what is the difference between marketing and sales. I believe that I was able to answer him thoroughly, but then I think it would be better if I include this topic in my blog just for my readers to appreciate.
What Is The Definition Of Sales?
If you remember Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, perhaps you also recall the scene in which the main character, Jordan Belfort, brought to life by Leonardo DiCaprio, challenges his friends to sell him his fountain pen.
By launching this challenge to his new business associates, Jordan wants to see whether they understand what makes people tick and how sales are driven.
Most individuals would jump on the bandwagon of praising the pen, they would try to find as many positive features and attributes, hoping they are going to make the pen attractive to the potential buyer.
Brad, his friend, and drug dealer understand the buying decision is not about the pen, but the needs of the potential buyer.
When challenged, Brad doesn’t praise the pen to Jordan but asks him to write down something for him. Jordan has to reply that he doesn’t have a pen.
This is what sales is all about.
How Is Sales Different Than Marketing?
The above example makes it clear that:
Marketing doesn’t have such power, as it rather uses the actual conditions without modifying them. In simple words, we could say that sales is about persuasion while marketing is about understanding applied.
What Martin Scorsese tried to illustrate in this scene is exactly what I believe about marketing:
This is where many marketers make a big mistake, by trying hard to push a product by promoting its properties, without even thinking whether the potential buyer has a need for that product or not.
In real life, people only buy what they perceive to be valuable to them.
A true salesperson knows how to turn an opportunity into a need: put the consumer in the situation of needing a pen that he doesn’t have.
This is how Brad can turn the worthless efforts of trying to persuade someone to buy something he doesn’t need into making the buyer acknowledge his need that only the seller can fulfill on the spot.
Once this point has been reached, the only thing left to do is to negotiate the terms of the sale until an agreement is reached.
Marketing doesn’t have the power to generate such a transformation. It is possible that marketing creates demand, but that’s very expensive, so not everyone can do it.
Marketing doesn’t have to do the job of the sales.
It only has to communicate an offer that meets a need the target consumers have. Marketing is rather about effective communication rather than manipulation of the consumer into buying something he doesn’t need.
Sales and Marketing
Ideally, sales and marketing has to work together in symbiosis for the benefit of all parties involved. What you want from your buyers is a relationship and not a single sale.
Since relationships are built on trust, this is what your efforts should be focused on rather than convincing people to buy things they don’t need.
Such transactions are never fruitful, as those consumers are going to be deceived when they are going to realize they don’t need what they bought from you as a consequence of your efforts.
Jordan Belfort has a very good understanding of sales, but he uses it for exploiting people’s greed, turning his clients into victims.
While it is fine to use this insight about the human nature, you should only apply it to deliver products and services to people who do need them for real.
This will make the buyers benefit from the sale, thus increasing the chances to turn them into loyal fans and followers of your brand.
The Positive Side of Sales and Marketing
People’s actions are not exclusively driven by greed or fear. There are other motivations such as the desire to do something good, the wish to be a good person and the wish to make a positive change in the world.
All these drivers are as real as fear and greed, so they shouldn’t be overlooked.
The Wolf of Wall Street is the illustration of the negative side of sales and marketing, but there’s also a bright side which is based on the same fundamental insights about human nature.
People who genuinely want to make the world a better place can also make use of such methods to reach their goals.
My personal belief is that people and companies that aim to do good in the world shouldn’t suffer from this misunderstanding about the drivers and the motivating factors of the human behavior.
Such insights should be used to benefit good causes and not to hard-sell them to others. It’s what your customers value that sales opportunities are created.
If you don’t know what your customers value, you should direct your efforts into finding it out sooner rather than later.
If you fall into the trap of pitching the features and benefits of your products and services, not only are you going to need a lot of work, but most of your efforts are going to be in vain.
Nobody wants an amazing but useless product, so you are going to have a hard time in seeing those sales flying off.
If your efforts go into the direction of persuading consumers about the attributes of your product instead of simply communicating them to those who already have a need and acknowledge it, you are going to lose the battle.
Even if your pen is simply wonderful, if you try to sell it to someone who is drowning, you won’t be getting anywhere.
But wait, what about branding?
Marketing and Branding: The Differences
It is clear that most companies see branding as an extra expense for the business. Most private investors see marketing as an additional cost to their operations, thus aren’t ready for any branding strategies.
The only way we can understand the basics of branding and marketing is by understanding what each means, and its importance in the market.
How do marketing and branding differ from each other?
To begin with, marketing can be defined as the process of promoting a service or product to attract more customers and drive sales.
Marketing is commonly referred to as a push tactic that involves urging customers to try the company’s products and services.
Marketers tend to vouch for their products by pointing out the negatives in their competitor’s products.
Marketing is all about promoting products and services by wooing potential customers into trying your products.
This makes it a lot different from branding.
Branding, however, is about pulling potential customers into using a product.
Branding can be best defined as the value of a company, product, organization or service, and an expression of the essential truth.
Branding is all about communicating the values, attributes and characteristics that clarify a particular brand.
Branding encourages people, especially loyal customers buy an individual product regardless of the marketing and sales campaigns in play.
Branding mainly focuses on enabling customers understand what a product is, and doesn’t push customers into buying the product if they aren’t interested.
Branding, therefore, gives the customer control over what products they wish to buy. It also cultivates loyalty in customers as they know what to expect from a particular brand.
Although marketing may contribute to a brand’s popularity, the brand is much bigger and more influential that any marketing effort or strategy. It is the brand that remains after a marketing campaign is over.
The brand name sticks in the audience’s or customers mind much faster and longer.
Marketing campaigns, however, stick for a few days, then fade off, while brands linger on for as long as the products are available and in good quality.
As mentioned above, branding cultivates customer loyalty and drives more sales than any marketing strategy.
One of the driving forces in branding is how companies strive to ensure their customers get the quality they need.
If the brand doesn’t sustain a certain quality, then it risks losing customers. An example of this is the Toyota brand.
This is the only car that most people buy, just because it gives them what they want in a car and quality for that matter.
Building a brand name takes a lot of time and investment. It is through experience that a company can build its brand by promising reliability.
The reliability is mostly upheld from continued production and delivery of quality standards.
Marketing a brand is much easier than promoting a new product that hasn’t been branded yet.
Marketing activates and unearths buyers while branding cultivates loyalty and advocacy of a certain product.
Businesses and organizations (including non-profit organizations) use almost the same strategies when building or reconstructing a brand.
Certain policies in marketing and promotion have to be implemented to inspire loyalty in customers.
Branding works on whoever is exposed to the product regardless of their preferences. All these have a significant impact on sales.
Well planned and executed marketing strategies, however, helps reinforce brand awareness thus cultivating on profitability.
Branding is a cost center on the surface, though it drives loyalty in the long run.
It makes customers want to come back for more, meaning return customers will recommend the product to their friends and acquaintances.
Customers, therefore, become ambassadors for the organization/business and its products.
Branding plays a vital role in the company’s success and future.
It is the core foundation of every operation that the business/organization takes on. Employees, innovators, and investors rely on branding for increased sales and loyalty.
This creates an ample environment for the business to thrive and drive sales in the long run.