What *is* the difference between Marketing and Sales?

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By far, the most important part to every business is Marketing and Sales. There is no business without customers. As a small business owner you are a marketer and a sales person. Period. Whatever personal baggage you have about sales, selling and/or promotion, get over it. If you're not willing to talk about your product or service or have no passion for your product or service to promote it, then no one else will buy it. Who would you rather buy from: a small business owner who says, "I'm experienced and good at what I do; I know what I'm talking about, please buy this from me," or from someone who isn't willing to say anything about what they do?

Before jumping in to bringing in customers, it's really helpful for the new small business owner to understand the difference between Marketing and Sales. The differences are subtle and important to know where to apply your skills and talents or bring in contractors to help you.

Marketing is the act of letting people know about your product or service. It is education. Marketing is the umbrella under which fall different aspects of prospect and customer education including: Advertising,Public Relations (PR), and Networking.

Advertising can be further divided into types: print media: including newspaper ads, magazine ads, flyers, direct mailings (postcards, coupons); and electronic advertising: including online ads, website development and promotion, social media ads, television, radio et cetera.

Example: As a small business owner, if you're out at a networking event, you are marketing. You're telling people about your business and letting them know you're in business. You're not selling.

The skills required for marketing involve:
  • researching skills to find out what your tribe needs, what words they rspond to, where they need to see your message ;
  • creative skills to craft your product or service into a message they will hear.

Sales is the act of solving the prospect's problem, alleviating their pain, or fulfilling their desire and exchanging money with them for your product or service. You aren't selling when you trade services. You are trading. Only when you have accepted money for your goods or services after educating the prospect have you made a sale. Sales is goal oriented and has a specific end point: when money exchanges hands. When money changes hands, the prospect becomes your customer.

Example: As a small business owner, when you're talking with a prospect from a networking event who called you and you're asking questions about what they need, want and desire and then matching that need with one of your products or services, you are selling. Depending upon your business, product or service, you may need to talk with them more than once before they buy.  Once they've paid you, you have sold.

The skills required for sales involve:
  • interviewing skills to tease out the true needs of your prospect
  • active listening skills to hear what they need and connect that need to what you have

If you've got these skills - yahoo! You're ready to go. If you don't have these skills, then find resources to teach you or bring in consultant experts to support you.
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