Finding a balance between the sales and marketing activities of your business can be tricky since many people mistakenly think they are the same thing. Last month, I touched on this topic in The Sales Cycle, which was written after spending six months aggressively marketing my business interests. That post signaled a shift in my focus from predominately marketing activities to predominately sales activities.
Always be marketing
Rule number one when shifting from a marketing focus to a sales focus in your business is to never stop marketing. It’s okay to spend more of you time on those activities that are required to close deals and bring business in; but you can’t ignore marketing that will provide the prospects you need for future sales.
Loosely defined, marketing is the group of activities you do to raise awareness about your business and the products and services you offer. This could include the blog posts you write, the emails and direct mail pieces you send, traditional advertisements in trade magazines and attending trade shows.
Activities like those in the previous paragraph are pretty much mandatory to ensure that your business will have a future. Some of the folks you connect with through marketing activities may exhibit a higher level of interest in what you do, which may in turn help them understand the advantages of doing business with you and your company verses a competitor.
Never stop selling
If you have been in business for any length of time, it’s quite likely you have more active and hot prospects for your products and services than you may even realize. I like to refer to this as pursuing the opportunities right in front of you before you go out looking for new ones.
When a person you’ve connected with via marketing activities contacts with you and expresses interest in moving ahead with a business relationship, the activities shift from marketing to sales. That does not mean you stop marketing to this person; it just means that you begin a specific process to close the deal and convert their interest into a sale.
Sales activities include personalized emails, phone calls and – when the price point of your product/service supports it – face-to-face meetings. Unlike marketing messages that are targeted to a large audience, sales communications are tailored to each specific prospect. The goal is to work the prospect through the paperwork and such required for your two companies to do business together.
Quality selling takes time
I can spend a few hours working on a blog post or an email campaign and potentially reach thousands of people. In that same few hours, I’d be lucky to contact six people on a sales level. It takes time to craft individualized messages that match up with the needs of your prospects. You’re still creating content; it’s just not content with which you’re going to be able to repurpose and reach the masses.
Selling is personal … marketing, not so much
While I know some of the best content marketers write their marketing pieces so that you read them thinking they are writing only to you, they are not. They are writing for the masses and that same messages reaches hundreds, thousands or even millions of people. On the other hand, quality sales messages are meant only for the person for which they are created. Many sales messages contain proprietary or confidential information that could never be included in a marketing message.
Balancing the sales and marketing activities for your business comes down to this: Always be marketing and never stop selling.