Sunday, May 14, 2006

sales is superior to marketing

There's a debate going on at Tom Peters blog.

"My Shtick"

Tom stated that sales "intellectually comes first", is prior to marketing. I think Tom meant to imply that all business activity and planning must be subservient to the primary goal of product sales.

Tom Peters:

"The increasingly sophisticated and intense use of data and analytics is effective only to the extent that it supports emotion, experience, sales, and revenue. Period.

I'd acknowledge that's a little strong—but my point, as usual, is to correct what I see as incorrect biases."

I agree 100% that sales must dominate all other considerations, and must dictate to marketing, finance, IT, and all other operations. This is granting that the business is ethical, legal, and beneficial.

Sales vs. Marketing

Some posters of comments at Tom Peters blog were hostile to this dichotomy, and say stupid shit like "no, Tom, it's sales AND marketing, not sales VS. marketing".

Marketing can deviate from a sales orientation, and start hallucinating that its concerns are of relevance to other operations. Marketing can become obsessed with data and concepts. Marketing can become detached from the user reality.

You all know that sales people and customer service staff know more than the marketing and finance departments of any organization. The front line workers, where the company meets the customer face to face, this is the supreme consideration zone.

What marketing people theorize and speculate on, using data derivations and key brand components, may have no beneficial application for the actual contact with the customer that happens in sales and service.

Customers complain and praise directly to the consultant, waitress, repair person, attendant, usher, service rep, and sales clerk. Those who deal directly with customers are superior to those who merely theorize about customers. Marketers generally stare at statistics and have little contact with consumers, nor do they often even know anyone in the target market.

Marketing, which I have worked in for many years, is really a bridge between manufacturing and sales. Marketing interprets product in terms of benefit for users, then develops strategy and support material for advertising, PR, and sales. Sales has the advantage of receiving immediate customer feedback on specific offers, product selection, and specials.

My comment posted at this article...

Here's an illustration of "marketing" vs. "sales", and why sales comes first:

The marketing dept. wants each store manager to listen to all the numbers for catalog, conversions, refunds and returns, items per guest, layaways, etc. for theirs and all other stores, during a conference call.

This useless information does not inspire or encourage the store managers, who are in reality wasting time on a mostly worthless, dragged out conference call. It merely annoys and frustrates them.

Each store is different, has different customers, and different items, so these comparisons hold value for corporate planning, but cannot be relevant to each store's operations.

The time spent listening to irrelevant data on other stores could be better spent serving customers.

Marketing thinks all store data is fascinating, even to other store managers.

Sales knows that such data is meaningless and boring.


Greg Hoffman, Marketing Gorilla said...

If there wasn't any marketing, there would be no sales.

steven edward streight said...

Greg, while I think I probably agree with you in essence, I'm looking at this topic from Tom Peter's original viewpoint.

Sales has always occurred, with or without marketing.

Marketing must not deviate from the actual front line sales and service realities.

I have worked in marketing most of my life, and I rarely heard, "Those darned sales people, messing up our marketing plans."

What more commonly happened was marketing getting in the way of sales, imposing artifical techniques, pushes, focus, etc. that have no understanding of how a sales occurs.

Good marketing consultants will take all that into consideration, how things are really sold, what customers really think about the marketing ideas.

Sales people are increasingly burdened with marketing agenda reports to generate for the home office or a district manager.

Lots of paperwork and digital input occurs, but this time is taken away from serving customers on the floor.

As a marketing consultant, I enjoy actually interacting with a client's customers whenever possible, getting down "in the trenches".

This is the main point, I believe. For marketing to get closer to sales realities.