by James D. Roumeliotis
Ever notice how business jargon gets in the way? All business practices face this issue. However the marketing and sales functions of an organization seem to suffer most. Common misunderstanding of the appropriate terms can lead to malfunction and poor strategy. Defining the key terms correctly is not about language or semantics. Its purpose is strategic, i.e. puts professionals on their toes.
Therefore, let’s re-examine the basics.
Sales vs. Marketing
Marketing as a function supports Sales. Marketing’s function is demand creation, which includes advertising, public relations, trade shows, white papers, and point-of-sales-materials.
The Sales function is to generate revenue. Neither exists without the support of the other. Management genius, Peter Drucker once wrote in The Practice of Management that “the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. If the marketing is well done, the products, and its features, sell themselves.”
If Marketing understands what the customer wants, then he or she will buy the product ─ no need to sell!
The focus is on aligning sales and marketing to the same vision of how customers’ needs are addressed. These days, marketing practices consider their sales force as “customers”. Since the sales force is the frontline, if they believe, they will be able to attract and retain a client base organically.
Marketing vs. Branding
The words “marketing” and “branding” seem to be used interchangeably. However, the two are very different concepts and should be kept separate. Both functions are imperative.
Marketing is defined by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as:
“The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”.
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a Brand as:
“A name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”
Marketing provides strategic support to the sales function, by locating and nurturing qualified leads in order to reduce the cost of sale and shorten the sales cycle. To accomplish this, marketers use a variety of techniques, such as advertising, market research, and logo design.
A “Brand” is a promise of something that will be delivered by a business. This promise comes in a form of quality, an experience and a certain expectation in the mind of the consumer.
Therefore, Marketing is about telling people stuff while Branding is a combination of words and action. Marketing is extroverted and communicates quickly, while Branding is introverted and a slow process if it’s to produce any real impact. Effective marketing activities are vital in developing a brand. When combined successfully, branding and marketing create and promote value, trust and confidence in a company’s image, products and services.
Push vs Pull
Pull vs.Push Marketing
Push marketing and Pull marketing are different marketing methods for promoting a business ─ both online and offline. Consumers usually “pull” the goods or information they demand for their needs, while the suppliers “push” them toward the consumers.
Push marketing is more traditional like advertising: essentially, you are pushing your message to your audience, regardless of whether they want to receive your message or not. Push marketing focuses on product features and waits for the audience to respond. Examples of Push marketing include website banner advertising, email marketing/spam, newsletters, and cold calling.
Pull marketing, on the other hand, is more proactive. Pulling the customers toward your brand with targeted messages they care about. Pull marketing gradually builds a brand. Examples of Pull marketing include public speaking, media interviews, and word of mouth advertising to name a few.
When it comes to email “Pull marketing”, there is what is known as “Permission Marketing” ─ a term coined by marketing expert Seth Godin in his 1999 publication, “Permission Marketing: turning strangers into friends, and friends into customers.”
It is the opposite of disruptive marketing, where marketers obtain permission from their audience before taking the next step in the purchasing process ─ as in asking “permission” to send email/e-newsletters to those people who have agreed to let you do so. It is mostly used by online marketers, as well as with certain direct marketers who send product/services information in response to a request.
Permission/Pull marketing improves targeting by offering consumers to interact with businesses most likely to provide relevant promotional messages and offers as in:
What and When the Consumer Wants
1) Relevant Products/Services
2) Tailored and personalized offers
3) Business he/she wants to transact with
4) Requests Offers when he/she wants
5) Decides when to receive offers
Can both the Push and Pull marketing methods be applied?
A successful strategy will usually have elements of both. For example, if a company just developed a new product or service offering, but no one has ever heard of it or its brand, in this case, Push marketing will be applied as an initial strategy to “get the word out” and build the audience. Thereafter, Pull marketing will be developed through select media advertising, along with refined online tactics, to draw the targeted consumer to the brand.
Account Management vs. Business Development
Both functions entail sales, so there’s no definitive difference. The choice of terminology varies from company to company and that’s confusing because some companies are calling their Business Development Managers Account Managers and some Business Development Managers seem to think they are Account Managers.
To clarify the discrepancy, an Account Manager is assigned responsibility for maintaining the ongoing business relationship with a particular customer considered to be of strategic value or is the source of significant recurring revenue generation. The Account Manager serves to ensure a customer relationship and retention. A Business Development Manager is tasked with developing and implementing business strategies to attract new accounts as per the company’s growth plans.
A Business Development Manager is frequently referred to as the “Hunter” ─ a characteristic of a sales person who goes out looking for opportunity and brings it home. He/She knows it’s out there, may not know when or where but has a strategy, executes it, and as a result, brings in new business.
Conversely, the Account Manager is referred to as the “Farmer” ─ treating his/her accounts the way a farmer would look at his/her land. The farmer cultivates, prepares, plants, seeds, waters, fertilizes, weeds, protects, grows, develops crops, harvests and then starts the cycle all over again. In business, the “Farmer”/Account Manager is responsible for servicing the account and ensuring the customer remains satisfied and won’t switch to the competition.
Does one qualify to do both?
Although a different set of skills are required, there are sales people who are a hybrid and are capable of doing both well. They can equally prospect through cold calling as well as nurture and grow existing accounts ─ though that’s more often the case with seasoned sales people who, at one time or another, have undertaken both tasks during their entire sales career. As a result, they possess a wider variety of experiences and activities.
Why Distinction Matters
The objective of all business enterprises, regardless of stage or size, is to satisfy the needs and wants of its target market/audience. Sales and Marketing, for example, are basic functions of business. When a salesperson sells a product or service, each is marketing something to a specific target audience.
As certain business terms and concepts are closely intertwined, it becomes perplexing to realize the difference between the two. It shouldn’t have to be that way as there is no need for fancy words or obscure concepts. Though, there is a need for different approaches in different situations. One approach is not always right and the other deemed wrong ─ it depends upon the particular situation.
YOUR VIEWS ARE WELCOME