In this new series on various types of business communication we’re taking a hard look at those minute differences between sales, marketing, and public relations. In some global conglomerates there are teams of hundreds dedicated to each individual aspect, but in many small businesses a small and mighty team are often tasked with wearing a variety of hats. To clarify which hat to wear when and when to quite literally send for help, we’re diving into the world of sales, marketing, and public relations. Whether you’re looking to get the word out, magnify your brand, or increase your bottom line - we’ve got you covered.
‘Sales is the most important aspect of a company, which in turn is about how well you treat your customer and stay ahead of your customer’s requirements’ - Mark Cuban
What are sales & how to use a sales team
Simply put, sales is ‘the process of selling the products to prospects at a specific price in a given period’. It’s the act of getting another person or entity to buy from your business. A sale, in and of itself, is a transaction between two entities where there’s an exchange of services, money, or product. If you're good at sales, there is definitely a level of interpersonal interaction in order to convince a lead to commit and become a customer. A salesperson or sales team is therefore responsible for managing that relationship with potential clients and offering a solution to fit their needs – eventually leading to a productive sale.
Sales management consist of targeted and measured goals, often on a month to month basis. Any sales plan ‘includes the tools and resources that will be used to actually move the buyer from ‘interest’ to ‘purchase’’, but should also consist of a variety of methods which use these tools. These strategies for making sales vary and can often take on the form of one-on-one meetings, networking opportunities, direct sales actions, shows/events/fairs, the infamous cold calls and more. Each has merits and detractions, but if used properly can help turn your lead into a customer.
How does sales differ from public relations?
To know how sales may differ from public relations, we first need to define public relations. ‘The Public Relations Society of America...defines public relations as a ‘strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics’’. Consider this: sales incorporates a financial exchange while PR is more focused on building a relationship, gaining trust, and showcasing the story. Public relations is more the intangible cousin to sales. Sales are quantifiable and are measured in dollar amounts. PR, on the other hand, is far more interested in perception and positive image reaching a wider audience. The benchmarks and results of PR are far less measurable in numbers, yet when it works well, the favorable sentiments of public good are massive and knowledge of products and services of the company increase. The positive results of public relations can help ‘to establish a business as part of a community, which helps to drive the sales needed to attain long-term viability’.
How does sales differ from marketing?
Some siblings get along beautifully while others have a severe case of sibling rivalry. This is the story of marketing and sales. For a business to thrive, aim for a symbiotic relationship between the department that brings in the leads and the one who closes the deal. ‘Marketing is the process of getting people interested in the goods and services being sold’. Marketers are the scene setters while salespeople, the closers. Heaps of avenues of analysis and research are utilized by marketing teams - all of which are designed around the campaigns to bring the public’s awareness to a particular ‘brand, product, or service’. Marketing sees the big picture and communicates the message while sales function more around hitting quotas and raising revenue. In other words, marketing plays the long game. By generating that interest, creating awareness, and bringing the product or brand to the forefront of our attention, marketers help to make sales possible - it’s always more financially fruitful when the two get along well together.
When would you outsource sales?
There are a myriad of tools and resources available to boost, manage, and organize sales. Whichever techniques, strategies, or tools you employ, when your time is better utilized in other ways or when your sales grow exponentially it’s time to ask for help. That assistance may be as simple as utilizing more resources, hiring more staff, or potentially outsourcing your sales team. The best time to outsource sales - generally on a commission basis - is when you need a large enough team to complete tasks such as phone banks or other easily trained tasks and it would not be cost-effective to hire and train the team on your own.
Some of those tools involve programs like: ‘Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, invoicing software, meetings app, email management tool, documents tool, inventory, and order management software’. For those teams that choose to merge their marketing and sales applications, there’s always the ability to utilize the innovative technology of live chat options and artificial intelligence. Whatever you fancy, be sure that the choice you make is right for your business at that time, and remember the option to re-evaluate that choice, re-deploy new strategies, or even re-brand the whole process is always up to you.
‘Sales do not occur mystically; it is the outcome of an effective marketing effort, combined with an effective sales process’. With a targeted approach, clear goals, a product or service in which you’re confident, and a whole host of tools at your discretion, sales are totally attainable. So whether you do it yourself, hire extra staff, merge your sales and marketing teams, or outsource it all – we can choose to follow the old school mindset of the Broadway sensation Glengarry GlenRoss and remember to…’always be closing’.