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How To Know When to Sell vs. When To Market Customers

In the world of business, it is important that companies are doing what they can to properly position their products to attract the right customers—and then generating sufficient business from those customers.


These two activities are some of the most integral business processes today: marketing, which allows companies to identify their target audience and pinpoint their needs, and sales, which is the actual process of winning business from these customers.


If you are trying to determine when your business should focus on sales and when you should emphasize marketing, there are some important differences to keep in mind.

Filling The Pipeline
Prospecting is the beginning of the sales process, and one of the most important. While each company may decide to have a slightly different balance, prospecting should be a task that is initiated by marketing and then picked up by the sales team. defines prospecting as reaching out to qualified individuals to attempt to move them through the sales process.

The job of the marketing department is to actually determine which individuals are qualified and thus most likely to purchase the products or services that a company offers. Once this task has been completed, the job of actually reaching out to customers and getting them through the sales cycle often falls to individual salespeople or sales teams.

Finding Your Niche
If your business is very new, or if you have recently started selling a new type of product, identifying your niche or target audience is of the utmost importance.

Without a sense of which customers you actually need to go after, your business runs the risk of having a message that does not attract any particular group’s interest. This responsibility falls clearly on the marketing department. If you are a smaller business, it is sometimes more beneficial to reach out to an advertising agency to do a competitive analysis, identify your target market and find ways to reach that market effectively.

Marketing needs to identify the key benefits of what your business offers and then position them to be able to meet some challenges or problems that your customers face. According to the SBA, businesses should attempt to narrow down their focus instead of trying to become a jack of all trades, and then target the message of their business to the market that they have identified. Once you have identified a niche, target market, and branding you can build your marketing around it.

Evolution of Marketing Vs. Traditional Sales Principles
Marketing is an activity that changes with technology. Throughout the years, marketing has taken many shapes. At first, companies were advertising on the radio with spoken word messages, then came the popularity of television advertising, and now with the advent of the Internet, a great deal of marketing is done on social media web sites or through e-mail.

At Forbes, guest blogger Chip Doyle makes the assertion that even though marketing develops over the years, the principles of sales stay the same: customers buy from people that they are comfortable with and do not want to be pushed to buying something that they are not sure that they need.

The job of the salesperson is to meet with prospects and make them understand exactly why they need these products, without coming off as forceful or arrogant.

Although this has been a crucial tenet of sales for decades, that have not changed, modern sales professionals have to understand that what has changed is the attitudes of customers and the availability of information. Before the Internet, customers relied on industry sales professionals to have expertise in a particular field and trusted them to make the right decision based on buying needs.

With the advent of search engines and free online databases of information, prospects have more information than ever before, and often can make purchases without ever involving a salesperson.

If your team understands how to work well with its marketing department, you can overcome these challenges: the marketing department will help the sales team determine which particular issues modern customers face can be overcome by a company’s offerings and the sales team will then effectively communicates these issues to the prospect.

Customer Feedback and Correspondence
One of the core responsibilities of any marketing department is getting information from current and past customers to try to determine how satisfied they are with a product and whether or not they would buy again.

Remember that the actual process of resolving customer issues falls to the customer service department. In the context of customer communication, the job of the marketing department is to gather data from customers about the products or services that your business provides and then present this information concisely.

This is often accomplished through surveys or follow-ups after customers buy things. To find out the positives or negatives of its products as perceived by customers, you need to initiate a marketing campaign.

Knowing when to sell and when to market can be challenging, but it is a distinction that you must make to keep revenue flowing steadily.

Remember that marketing is broadly focused on product positioning and information gathering, while sales is narrowly focused on specific customers and deals. Understanding the difference between these two fields can be crucial for your business to survive and thrive.