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“The difference between Sales and Marketing is that Marketing owns the message and Sales owns the relationship” – John Jantsch

“When you’re up against a clearly superior product, you can forget about marketing. You cannot win a war with vastly inferior weapons” – Ries & Trout

“The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect’s mind” – Ries & Trout

The last two quotes are from the book “22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” written by Ries and Trout.

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There has always been an age long connection between sales and marketing and sometimes there has been conflicts resulting from each department passing the buck whenever a product is failing. In this context of failure, I mean when the product is not meeting the expectations of the sales and marketing team in terms of sales turnover and market share. The amazing thing is that when the revenue is adding up, the temptation is always there for marketing to say that they got the product design correctly through ensuring a right price and good adverts and promotions.  However, the sales team, on the other hand, argue that no matter how good a product is and how well the product is known, if there is no push (which is always the sales man’s term), there is likely not to be any sales.

Salesmen are always fighters. They are in the field everyday contesting for the scarce and limited funds in the hands of their trade partners ranging from the distributors to the wholesales and the retailers. Ironically, the same retailer that a salesman is coming to meet to ensure he patronises him and makes purchases is the same retailer some different salesmen from other competing organizations are coming to meet for funds which, more often than not, is not enough to go around all these salesmen. There comes now a play of wit and intelligence to outsmart one another for the purpose of this transaction. When all forms of tricks to outplay one another begins to fall like a pack of cards, the salesman may be tempted to sell on credit so as not to lose the sales.

Salesmen are very rugged and passionate about their figures. You see a salesman on his sick bed and will still be asking for his achievement month to date. There was a story I was told by a colleague which happened around 10 years ago. It was a story of a salesman who was working with a multinational organization but had a car accident and had to be rushed to the hospital. He was quite wounded and bleeding but this man was still trying to give instructions on phone on the next steps to take regards his sales transactions before he was shut down by his rescuers. Such is the life of salesmen. They will go through all manner of hurdles to ensure that they meet their daily and monthly objectives.

On the other hand, the marketers are those who design the products that the salesmen sell. They design products according to the specification of the consumers. Organizations who want to succeed ensure that their products are consumer specific and not that they will produce anything and expect the sales team to push it to the trade. It is an old concept to find consumers for your product. Companies that do that are product oriented and they believe that a quality product will always sell. They neglect the consumer needs and expect consumers to come for them. That concept does not work again in the present age of stiff competition. Marketers who want to successfully engage in market research and obtain consumer feedback before they conclude their product design. They find or make products for their consumers and not the other way round.

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Marketers are also the forerunners of salesmen. As much as they work together in the collaboration which is what this article is about, their assignment precedes sales. That includes market research, market testing, consumer insight and feedback. They must also ensure that adequate visibility is created for the products through adverts (ATL and BTL)* that will prompt purchases. The marketing team must have an Advertising and Promotion budget that will help increase its products’ Share of Voice (SOV) and Share of Market (SOM). However, some marketers are limited due to their budget funds which are calculated as a percentage of revenue. This means if the sales figures are not coming in, there is no money to spend on marketing. This may have worked for some organizations but it negates the principle of marketing forerunning for sales. If adequate work is done by the marketing team, it creates a soft landing for the salesman when he is prospecting his customers.

Above all, in order to achieve the big picture, there must be a marriage between sales and marketing. The marketing team should listen more to the salesmen who are much more in touch with the customers. This should be in addition to their market intelligence which must include the size of the market and must consider the target market of the product, the share of each of the competitor in the market, purchasing power of the consumer, distribution network of the company and its competitors, economic factors as well as an insight into the profit margin of the competitors. All these are factors that will determine the setting of the target for the whole business. When this is diligently done, it will form a scientific basis for setting the target for the sales team and this will prevent a situation whereby the salesman will be running around without meeting his objective.

*ATL: The use of mass media such as Television, Radio and Billboards to reach audience

*BTL: The use of pamphlets, handbills, brochures, POS materials like buntings, shelf strips, display stands etc.

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Written by: Oluwole Dada, (Regional Sales Manager at Nestle Nig. Plc; Member, Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK))

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