Marketing vs sales: Who really makes the sale?

11th Apr 2016

The prime purpose of every business is to make money for the benefit of the owners and the workforce, regardless of whether it is a business for manufacturing, retail or professional services. Businesses make money by producing goods and services which customers want to buy. Marketing managers have the responsibility of managing resources to produce profitable income from sales, by anticipating and satisfying customer requirements.

However good the product, service and brand image may be, the ability to make income from sales is fundamental to the success of every business, Over time, businesses have increased both in the size and complexity of their organisations, such that they have many elements that collectively contribute to producing the sales income on which the company owners and workforce depend.

Traditionally, selling to the customer has been done on a personal basis by trained sales personnel. There are now many businesses that do not use personal selling to provide their income, but rely on other impersonal means, such as through the internet, direct mail, catalogue or social media.

Considering that successful selling is fundamental to the producing of profitable income, it is important for marketing managers of such businesses, to understand which activities are involved in generating customer interest and its conversion to income producing sales, in order that the process is effectively managed.

The process of making a sale may be broken down into four principle actions:

  1. Engaging the attention of the potential customer.
  2. Establishing the customer’s interest.
  3. Developing the customer’s desire for the product or service.
  4. Guiding the customer to easily complete the purchase.

These actions form the basis of every professional sales person’s approach to making and completing a sale with a customer.

However, the principles of this process still apply when selling through the internet, direct mail, catalogue or social media. In all these cases, the message to the customer is conveyed by the words of a copywriter and the presentation of a designer. Whereas a salesman can adapt their personal selling approach to the circumstances of the interaction with the customer, this is not possible when selling via the internet, direct mail, catalogue or social media.

A simple process

While interactive media may allow the selling message to be “personalised” to some extent, there still has to be a process that engages the prospective customer’s interest and guides them to completing a purchase. That success is entirely dependent on the words of the copywriter to effectively convey the sales message and the brochure or web designer to direct and hold the interest of the potential customer.

It must be remembered that the effectiveness of websites, direct mail, catalogues and social media sites as selling tools is only as good as the designers and copywriters that produce them.

If the objective of website pages, direct sales brochures, catalogues or social media sites is to sell products or services, then the process must be simple, clear and easy for the potential customer to use. If the process becomes complicated, it can impede the sales message to the potential customer and potentially lose the sale.

For the marketing manager, with overall responsibility for getting and maintaining profitable income, ensuring that the sales message used in impersonal selling is effective, is of great importance. It follows that designers and copywriters must be fully briefed about the message they are to produce and the objective that is to be achieved, namely sales. Many websites and other media frequently confuse telling what the business wants to say about itself and its products, with what the potential customer actually wants to know.

Whatever medium is used, the copywriter and designers need to develop the sales process through four stages:

  1. The first stage should describe the particular problem which the customer is likely to have.
  2. The second stage should show how the features of product or service can solve the problem.
  3. By showing how the potential customer would benefit from using the product or service, encourage the customer to want the solution.
  4. Finally, by making ordering and completing the purchase a simple process, guide and encourage the customer to complete the purchase action.

All sales processes need to have performance measurements to ensure that they can be effectively managed. So while the sales message will be devised by the copywriter, methods of performance measurement will need to be developed and incorporated by the designers, especially in the design of web pages and social media sites. 

While the act of selling may be delegated to specialist sales personnel, or in the case of businesses without a sales organisation, to the copywriter of the message and the designer of the media, the ultimate responsibility for producing the income from sales still lies with the marketing manager.


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By EJohn Morris
23rd Apr 2016 07:47

Nicholas, Thank you for sharing your thoughts here, I like and agree that sales and marketing alignment is blurring. So as a result of your findings do we now commission marketing teams based on business won and revenue realised.
John M

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