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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Recruiting Sales and Marketing People? Don’t Bother - They Don’t Exist!

It has been very wisely said that, in the end, we in business are all traders.  We buy something, we have knowledge or experience or we make something, then we add value and we sell it to make a margin.

In essence then it is a very simple progression that has been made very complicated as products, services and markets have become more and more sophisticated.

Early last century the sales function was all powerful and, at that stage, understandably so.  If a business has something to sell then they made sure that the right people knew about it.

Led by US methods the techniques of selling become very effective and more and more broadly based.  No longer was it possible to assume that, as Henry Ford said:

“Build a better product and the world will beat a path to your door”

The world will only comply provided that they know about who you are, and what you can provide for their benefit.

I love that little epic poem which I have mentioned before:

“He who whispers down a well
About the good he has to sell
Will never make as many dollars
As the guy who climbs a tree and hollers”

And therein lies the really significant change in the methodology of how best to bring your product or service to the market.

Because of the expansion of the markets and of competing products and services, a way had to be found to penetrate markets in a more effective way than merely sending out a large number of field sales people and hoping that they will find the goldmines out there.

It brought into play a more sophisticated way of looking at the appropriate markets and the science (or art or both) of marketing came into being.

It was immediately espoused by the Business Schools, which love anything to put more theory to the test, and in time the whole subject became even more complicated.

All of that explanation is a precursor to a problem which many businesses have, that is, the essential separation between marketing and sales.

A simple definition of marketing might be: a formalised way to define appropriate markets, to identify suitable potential in the markets, to understand their needs and to provide suitable solutions.

That would be by various techniques such as market research, competition research, pricing policy, promotional activity such as advertising in a range of media and, above all, sales.

Accordingly the method of selling by either a trained field force backed up by qualified internal sales support is a major part of the marketing function.

Logically therefore it makes no sense at all to try to find people out there who are “Sales and Marketing Specialists” simply because the two functions are entirely different; marketing establishes the background information to permit the sales function to operate at optimum effectiveness.

My old sales mentor, Phil Copp, the sage of Wythenshawe, knew well the advantages that accrue from a detailed knowledge of the markets and because his market were relatively uncomplicated he was able to do that himself.

In that business we didn’t have marketing function per se and every sales person was expected to derive such information as was appropriate.

It is essential to understand that the marketing function underpins everything about the business, its purpose, its objective and its ultimate success.

The sales function is the task force that makes sure that the markets buy in to what we do, what we offer and the way in which we give great service.

In other words:

Don’t try to find a sales and marketing specialist because they don’t exist

You actually need both.

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