Marketing & Sales Are Not the Same: 5 Things to Know to Improve Conversions

How’s business? If you’re like most owners and entrepreneurs, you’d say it’s kind of crazy these days. Customer preferences are shifting, markets are changing, and then there’s the economy. But kudos to you for continued staying power and the ability to remain flexible and dynamic! But the struggle is still real, and we get it. Connecting with new customers requires a whole new playbook these days. So, here’s my next set of questions…

How’s your marketing? How are your sales?

If you’re assuming both are the same question, they’re not. In fact, there are clear distinctions between marketing and sales. And if you’re still chasing down best practices for both without separating them and setting proper results expectations, you probably feel like you’re spinning your wheels. And you’re certainly not seeing results.

When business leaders treat marketing and sales the same, they’re missing valuable opportunities to capitalize on unique differences in strategies and resources. And these leaders are usually overspending on ads that aren’t producing and wrist-slapping their sales teams too frequently.

So, separate marketing strategies from sales strategies – they are NOT the same. And ultimately, since your big-picture goal is to increase sales conversions, keep reading. We’ll show you how to tap into marketing and sales independently to achieve those boosted bottom-line results you want.

1. Marketing and Sales, DefinedPhoto by Lukas: marketing, sales

Forbes says that “marketing establishes a brand’s reputation,” while sales “ensures the brand endures financially by generating revenue.” Similarly, HubSpot defines marketing as a way to “inform and attract leads and prospects,” whereas sales “works with prospects to convert them into customers.”

But I think I like the US Chamber of Commerce’s definition the best: “Marketing builds awareness of your organization,” while “sales turns that viewership into profit.”

The point to takeaway here is that marketing and sales each serve two unique purposes. And without understanding the distinctions, you could be building your strategies all wrong. You might even be one of the many businesses out there, frustrated because all your “marketing” efforts aren’t translating to sales. Do any of these real-life situations sound familiar in your business right now?

  • You’re wondering why you’re spending ad budgets on campaigns that are only generating followers and likes, but no sales.
  • Your marketing is handled by an admin or salesperson.
  • You can’t figure out why Facebook isn’t bringing in customers.
  • You only send email campaigns that feature “buy now” CTAs.
  • Nowhere in your current strategies do you have a plan for “nurturing.”
  • Your teams can’t distinguish between a lead and a prospect.
  • Your current content strategy is really just a series of sales pitches.

Don’t worry. If these sound familiar, you’re not alone. And it just means you need a bit of marketing and sales strategy realignment.

Why separating the two continues to be a challenge

If you’ve been in business long enough, you remember the days of conducting business without the internet and mobile devices. Back then, your “open” sign was your marketing tool. And if you had a budget for it, legacy advertising would help boost sales.

The marketplace and economy are vastly different now. Businesses are getting in front of their audiences long before their audiences even know they want to buy. And it’s the understanding of that “journey” a potential buyer takes that requires a marketing strategy. The traditional methods for sales conversions are still relationship-based and intended to generate revenue. But business leaders still struggle to recognize that it takes a separate strategy to get their target audiences to the point of becoming an interested prospect before they try to sell.

Trying to leverage sales techniques using marketing strategies isn’t going to be effective. It would be like asking a random person on the street to come into your store and buy something. Sure, you might convince a few people to come in, but most will feel pressured and become disinterested. Only, when you come at your audience online with a hard sales pitch, they won’t just keep scrolling. They’ll never look back.

And if any of this is resonating with you and your current marketing and sales strategies, it’s time for a reset. Recognize the two are different and explore these insights for realigning your efforts.

2. What Marketing Strategies Do Best

Let’s start with marketing, the methods and strategies you use to tell the world, “Hey, we’re over here… selling something.”

Marketing your brand can invite your target audience to take a closer look at your business and offerings. But it has to resonate with what they want, prefer, need, and are curious about in the first place. This is why you always talk about building out buyer personas for your marketing. Once you have personas prepared, you can look to build a strategy to achieve the following primary goals.

Introduce your brand and offerings

Your marketing strategy will need to reach people who’ve never heard of you and introduce your brand. These messages will look and feel like introductions, not hard sales with intense calls to action. Just like when you meet someone new, you expect that engagement to be friendly, informative, and impressionable.

Attract leads

Your marketing strategy will also need to reach those who are familiar with your brand but maybe haven’t expressed any interest beyond the general awareness. You’ve introduced yourself to them. Now your marketing content and efforts should start to entice and attract them. Attracting leads still isn’t selling. So, you’re not hitting them with a big sales offer just yet. Instead, nurture those who are aware into becoming comfortably familiar and potentially interested.

Turn leads into prospects

Lastly, use your marketing strategy to create a path for leads to become prospects who have a genuine interest in what you sell. These messages and campaigns will use incentives to encourage leads to take the next step. It might be a click funnel campaign or a series of emails asking for a next step. But this leg of the marketing race should be preparing for a hand-off to sales.

Tools and strategies

When developing your marketing strategies, assemble the tools that help you do all of the above. And don’t feel pressured to use them all at once. In fact, you’ll have the best results when you focus and dominate with a select few. Here are the top marketing strategies to consider:

  • Social Media Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Internet Marketing
  • Blog or Content Marketing (Ahem, GBW can help here.)
  • Print Marketing
  • Video Marketing
  • Email Marketing

3. What Sales Strategies Do Best

With marketing squared away, we can now look at sales, the methods, and strategies you use to tell your captive prospects, “Hey, let’s process that payment for you.”

If your marketing strategies are effective, you’ll assemble an ongoing flow of leads-turned-prospects who are ready to take the next step toward conversion. And it’s here that your sales strategies take over to continue nurturing and “selling” those prospects on making a purchase. These are the intended outcomes your sales strategies should look to achieve.

Recognize the sales cycle

When your sales team is handed a prospect, the sales strategy should first identify where the prospect is in the sales cycle. They’re interested, yes. But are they ready to buy right now, or will they need additional engagement before making a decision?

Solve their problems, now

To drive home the “buy now” result, your sales strategy should offer a solution to the prospect’s problems now. It’s not the time for gentle introductions. Now’s the time for precise calls to action and tactics that directly ask for the sale. If the prospect objects to buying now, the prospect returns to the sales cycle for additional nurturing.

Follow up on satisfaction

Your sales strategies aren’t done once a prospect buys and officially becomes a customer. In fact, existing customers are all interested prospects who could still buy from you ongoing. They’re also great resources for referral business and testimonials. So, make sure your sales strategy outlines a process for following up after the sale, ensuring customer satisfaction, and continued nurturing for repeat business.

Tools and strategies

When developing your sales strategies, like marketing, you’ll need to assemble the best tools to help facilitate sales and empower your sales teams to drive conversions. Depending on what you sell, products and services will require different sales techniques. Explore some of these sales methods to find your best-fit combination of efforts:

  • Solution Selling
  • Inbound Selling
  • Concept Selling
  • SPIN Selling (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need)
  • NEAT™ Selling (Need, Economic, Access, Timeline)
  • SNAP Selling (Simple, ‘Nvaluable, Aligned, Prioritize)
  • Challenger Selling

4. Develop Them Separately, then Combine for Blockbuster Results

While you’re encouraged to develop your marketing and sales strategies separately and with separate expectations for results, the sweet spot is when you can achieve marketing and sales alignment. In other words, develop those strategies in a way that they cohesively support each other. And when you can find that magic wand, you’re going to need to buckle in for serious growth.

Align goals and objectives

When you develop your marketing and sales strategies, make sure to start both with goals and objectives that align. If both segments seek to achieve aligned results, you can successfully build them together.

It’s kind of like being a parent to more than one child. You love them all equally but recognize learning and parenting techniques might be different. Your marketing and sales strategies should aim for the same result but may get there differently.

Keep sales and marketing collaborative

Avoid trying to separate your company into “sales” and “marketing” teams who work independently of each other. Each relies on feedback from the other. And they need to be collaborative in understanding their respective roles and goals within the overall process of attracting and closing new customers.

Track and measure everything

Marketing best practices change. Sales techniques change. Your market changes. And the only way you can keep up with all these potential shifts is with data. With every marketing and sales strategy you implement, make sure you’re also tracking progress, effectiveness, and results. It’s the metrics and ongoing audits to review that will alert you to changes. And from there, you can make adjustments precisely where they’re needed.

Without metrics and data at each campaign or effort, here’s what happens. You see that you’re not closing sales, but you can’t pinpoint where the problem is. So, you impose strict sales quotas and demand more from your sales team. Only, because you don’t have data, you don’t realize the breakdown is occurring in the marketing aspect of your process, and you’re not attracting the right prospects. Your salespeople aren’t the problem; it’s the marketing that is no longer effective.

Stay flexible and dynamic as a company by staying on top of the analytics that demonstrate how well each marketing and sales strategy is working. Here are just a few key metrics to consider tracking for your strategies:

Marketing Data

  • Conversion Rates
  • Bounce Rates
  • Click-Through Rates
  • Website Traffic
  • Social Media Engagement
  • Cost Per Lead
  • Lead to Customer Ratio
  • Organic Traffic

Sales Data

  • Total Revenue
  • ARPA (Average Revenue Per Account)
  • New vs. Existing Revenue
  • Win Rates
  • YTY Growth
  • NPS (Net Promoter Score)
  • Quotas Achieved
  • LTV (Lifetime Value)

5. Strategies Aren’t Concrete

Remember, as you develop or review your marketing and sales strategies with these insights in mind, nothing has to be concrete. The beauty of strategies is that they can be adapted and changed. Realign your goals and separate your expectations for marketing and sales. Then, keep track of your results and get feedback from your teams. Test new channels, sample new campaigns, and get creative with how you attract, engage, and close. The winning combination for you can only be discovered by testing and innovating.

If during your strategy reassessment, you decide you need a better method and partner for content marketing, remember we’re here to help! The talented team of wordsmiths and copywriters at Ghost Blog Writers can take the guesswork out of any content-related marketing project you have. And we certainly know a thing or two about marketing and sales alignment, too. So, you know we can elevate your content game in the right direction and in alignment with your big-picture goals.

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