‘The Colouring-In Department’ is how I used to refer to my Marketing colleagues in the past, whilst they would retort with the age old classic comeback; “W***er!”
Don’t be too alarmed though, I can assure you that these exchanges were merely banter as opposed to being malicious in nature.
But on reflection, I can admit that such comments did come from my lack of understanding on what Marketing actually did in regards to Sales and I guess in turn, this directly influenced my role as a salesperson.
I’d tried to understand what the difference was between the two, but regardless of what I read, or who I spoke to, I never really got a satisfactory explanation of what differentiates Sales and Marketing, until I attended a religious ceremony for a friend’s wedding.
To be clear from the outset, I am not suggesting that Sales and Marketing is a religious concept. I am merely going to be using religion as an analogy for defining the respective functions of salespeople and marketers in business.
All the religions I know of seek to influence people through storytelling.
People align their personal belief to the shared meaning they discover in others and stories are a great way of building the trust to communicate such shared meanings, because they are perceived as being objective in nature.
All religions have scripture containing stories that are communicated ‘en masse’ by a teacher or leader to a congregation or group.
These religious teachers or leaders must ensure that their chosen story each week, has mass meaning which strongly resonates with each member of their audience, so that membership grows or at a minimum is maintained.
Many religions also have members or volunteers whose function it is to bring in new members into the congregation, by listening to the unique problems of the individual and showing them how the solution that their religion provides can improve that individuals life.
So how does all this relate to business in 2018?
A company much like a religious group seeks to influence people’s beliefs in the value of its product/service in improving their lives.
Marketing, much like a religious leader or teacher uses storytelling to build that belief in the value of the company’s product/service and is most effective, when that story resonates with the largest number of existing/prospective consumers (congregation), because those consumers represent associated value retention/gain for the company.
The larger the pool of existing/prospective consumers; the bigger a potential return and the greater amount of investment is required in ensuring that a marketer’s story aligns to and reaches their target audience, so as to build their company following.
In 2018, the rise of Digital, Globalisation and Technology has rapidly facilitated the ease, cost and reach of this storytelling to progressively reach more fragmented sub groups of consumers/value pools.
New outlying members of a congregation (previously unidentified by Sales or considered cost prohibitive by the business) can now be sourced directly by the leaders of the group using means which up until 20 years ago were unknown, bypassing the Sales team.
This means that the storytelling function that a salesperson was traditionally tasked with; to engage small pools of value is now no longer required. Couple this with the rise of eCommerce which also negates the requirement for an order taker, now means that many a salesperson is struggling to find their place in today’s competitive landscape.
Is this the end of days for all salespeople?
If you happen to be in the B2C space, I’d be scrambling to the higher ground of ultra premium/bespoke consumer sales as fast as possible, but I wouldn’t expect the water to start receding any time soon.
If you’re in B2B sales, don’t panic, there is hope for us all and it is this new hope which is the subject of my next article in two weeks time, which will be titled ‘Solo: A Sales Story’.