Sales and Marketing Explained | The Dangerous Confusion

The goal of marketing is to make sales superfluous, but you can’t have a business with just marketing and no sales. Many people believe that sales is king and that sales heals all, but of course, many great businesses are in fact outstanding at marketing and were founded by great marketers.

You’ll even find many business owners who aren’t great at sales by their own admission, even if they’re being modest. Of course, being great at sales doesn’t necessarily mean that you can run a business.

You’ll often hear great business owners and marketers like Frank Kern and Ryan dice say that they’re not great at sales. When in fact, they will be outstanding at sales, but they know their value as business owners are placed elsewhere.

Without sales, your business doesn’t generate income, but of course, marketing can do a big part of the heavy lifting. Without sales, your business dies, but without marketing, you don’t have an audience to sell to.

History is littered with businesses that try to over-leverage just one of these assets, but you must leverage both in order to grow a successful business.

In this video, I want to uncover the differences between marketing and sales where the lines blur and where the lines are very defined.

My first sales job

My first ever true sales job was selling satellite TV door to door to private homes. This work was grueling. The hours were long. The pay was shit and you were surrounded by people in their twenties who thought they knew how to run a business?

My time as a door-to-door salesman taught me some crucial sales skills, which we’ll actually talk a little bit about later.

There would be days when you would travel over a hundred miles, knock on over a hundred doors, and literally have zero interest. And of course, everyone says, oh, I, I don’t buy at the door.

The reality is no, you probably don’t. However, there were times when people would buy based on our pitch, which I can probably still remember. We would be looking for the people who are willing and able to buy.

The part of the job that was frankly, morally gray. We were pitching to people with no money and who paid everything on credit. However, they did often make easy sales.

My stepdad used to say, “If you ever wanted to see the nicest cars and the biggest TV screens with the best satellite packages, go to the lowest income area in your town.”

The reason wealthy people have a lot of money is because they don’t write a lot of cheques.

Our job selling door to door was to make a quick pitch. This was during the time when all the UK signals were being converted to digital and offer them a chance to upgrade to sky for something like 50 quid a month plus get a free recording set-top box.

So we first had to get them on the hook by talking about the traditional analog TV signals disappearing, and then offer them what sounds like a discount, but is an actual fact what just their standard pricing was and if you could find out what their favorite TV program was, you could pretty much get a sale.

It also taught me how to close there and then, ask for people’s credit card information and writing out an order form, handling objections at the point of the sale.

I learned a lot about perseverance, a lot about high-pressure sales and I learned that I didn’t want to do it for a lot longer.

Interestingly, I do actually have a marketing degree. I’ve got a degree in product design with marketing because I knew I wanted to go into marketing or at least something quite creative.

My first job out of university, however, was again, another sales job selling car rental to both individuals and business.

This again, required a lot of cold calling and pitching and if you wanted to hit your sales numbers, you needed to upsell a lot.

Two key lessons

The two key lessons I took from selling car rental were the exact same lessons I learned from door-to-door selling:

  1. learn how to qualify leads faster, and
  2. learn how to close sales better

Asking for the money is perhaps the most awkward and hated part of any salesperson’s job. I know that most business owners hate asking for the sale, but I decided I wanted to not only hit my numbers but get bigger commissions on each sale. So I worked on my closes and up sales for each and every customer.

Interestingly, the way I got my first corporate marketing job was through a different sales role. I was working for a large corporation doing lead qualification, which is essentially qualifying new leads who downloaded an optin.

The way I landed the lead qualification job was because I had sales experience, even though I did have a marketing degree, it’s not from a great university and lots of the other applicants had marketing masters as well as experience working for marketing agencies and marketing departments for larger businesses.

Then when I moved into corporate marketing from this lead qualification job, it wasn’t quite the experience that I’d be hoping for. Corporate marketing for the most part, by my estimation, seemed to be mainly about putting on events, and rebuilding websites and that was about it.

While obviously, that’s a massive part of marketing anyway, what I was really looking for was the ability to create new brands and embrace new technologies. I bounced around a couple of different corporate marketing departments and businesses, and each time I was staggered, by how resistant to pretty well-established marketing concepts like podcasting and blogging corporate companies were.

What’s fascinating now, is that what I was trying to push for back then is still considered cutting edge and is only now being adopted by some of the larger companies.

In essence, the majority of my small business marketing practices only came after I started a marketing business. When I started an agency after being fired from my previous marketing job, I had to relearn what it meant to do small business marketing, building an audience, and building trust with that audience.

Clear distinction and differences between marketing and sales

I use John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing’s definition of marketing, which is marketing is getting an audience to know, like, and trust you, which actually comprises of four metrics. Everyone focuses on the know, like, and trust, but we must also discover and build an audience.

If you’ve ever been asked by a consultant or a coach, “What’s your niche?”

This is essentially the starting point for all marketing. Who is your audience? What problem are you trying to solve? What currency do you help them walk away with?

Single moms. No time to work out. Lose 10 pounds by the summer.

The goal of marketing

The goal of marketing is not only to define the audience but also to create content and a brand that allows the audience to get to know who you are like you and trust you.

This is already where the lines between marketing and sales begin to blur. For example, sales is all about building trust and building trust fast.

But marketing can do a lot of the heavy lifting. I’ve often said that the goal of marketing is to make sales superfluous, which means we can create marketing that is so good that people ask to buy from us without having to sell to them.

The problem is that people use this especially business owners as an excuse to avoid selling. Don’t make this very dangerous mistake, which is to invest all of your time and money in marketing to build an audience, expecting them to buy.

You absolutely categorically must make an offer at some point to your audience if you want to make a sale. There may be businesses whose marketing is so outstanding that they don’t need to sell, but you are almost certainly not one of those businesses.

It’s impossible to measure trust and likability, but it is pretty easy to measure if people are interested in working with you. Things like opt-ins, signups, subscribers, leads, audience size, page visits, et cetera.

Audience size

No one in history has ever been able to pay the bills with audience size. At some point, you have to make money and there has to be a sales transaction.

The funny thing about audience size though, is that it’s only profitable after you make the sale. I’ve worked with dozens of influencers with hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers and subscribers who live paycheck to paycheck, barely able to pay their rent because they don’t know how to monetize their audience.

The mistake I made in one of my previous businesses was focusing on audience acquisition and not sales. I made the very arrogant assumption that creating content and that my marketing would be so good that it would mean I wouldn’t have to make a sale. And while the goal of marketing is to make sales superfluous, you still need sales in the business.

The role of sale

The role of sales has shifted drastically in the last few years, previously sales people were seen as advisors because they held all the cards. Essentially, they had all the information and would help the customer make a decision.

However, of course, this led to a lot of problems because the salesperson’s information could be either biased or plain wrong. If I knew that a certain car model would yield me a higher commission, I would always try and sell that rather than the one that was right for you, the customer.

Now, because of comparison sites, reviews and faster internet connections, the consumer is either as. Of their options or sometimes even more aware than the salesperson.

How often have you been in a hardware store or an electrical store and asked for help from the sales advisor, basically for them to read off the back of a box or just straight up admit that they have got no idea what you’re talking about.

I believe now that a great salesperson has less to do with product knowledge and more to do with building trust fast. In fact, Taki Moore of million-dollar coach says that there are two aspects of a great salesperson. Qualified buyers better, build trust faster.

My definition of the sales process

My definition of the sales process overall is to work out if it makes sense for two parties to work together. It’s as much a collaborative effort as it is one person exchanging money for a product or service from another.

During the sales process, if you’re able to qualify buyers better and build trust faster, your sales process will improve. This means you’re able to work out bigger and better deals with bigger and better clients that make sense for both of you to engage.

Sales is a transference of enthusiasm

Another definition of sales, which I really like from Jim Rohn and Zig Ziglar is that sales is a transference of enthusiasm.

I’ve always said that being enthusiastic adds about 10 IQ points. I’ve managed to make sales way bigger than I deserve to purely because I was enthusiastic about the product and I was enthusiastic about the customer.

A customer can only match your enthusiasm level. They can never go past it. So if you are only a five out of 10 about the product and working with you, then they can never get higher than that.

If you are struggling to make sales, even though you’ve got all the patterns and the sales strategy down, it’s probably your enthusiasm level that needs work.

The world’s greatest businesses are defined by those who use marketing to build an audience and then the sales practice to qualify and close that audience.

There are an infinite number of businesses that will gladly spend all of their resources on advertising and PR and audience acquisition, but never ask for the sale.

The long-term success of your business relies on your ability to turn people who have no idea that you exist into happy, profitable, repeat customers who refer you to their friends.

That is the marketing and sales process combined. Think of it as the difference between attraction and conversion.

Don’t worry about specific marketing terms or terminology or sales strategies and tactic. Ask yourself, what am I doing to attract an audience? What am I doing to convert that audience?

Key sales skill that many businesses miss out

A key sales skill that many businesses miss out on is being able to turn their products’ deliverables or features into benefits, which means how can I take the features of my product or service and turn them into something which makes someone’s life better.

Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.