Partners in Performance Blog

Sales Mistakes: Confusing Marketing with Selling


A big mistake some professionals make is confusing marketing with selling. In my work with Partners in Performance and as an Intentional Selling™ coach, I have met many professionals who are not crystal clear on the distinction between marketing and sales.

They see marketing as a way to avoid the dreaded job of selling their services. This resistance to sales is illustrated below.

One of the former “Big 5professional services firms responded to fierce competition by rolling out a sales coaching program for their associates and partners in North America. As one of the coaches involved, I quickly learned that the biggest obstacle the professionals had with their business development efforts were the limiting assumptions and beliefs that they associated with sales. Many wouldn’t even use the “S” word. They instead referred to business development as “marketing,” under the misguided assumption that marketing alone would take care of getting new business.

But there is indeed a big difference between marketing and selling. Marketing is like the grease that lubricates the hinges on a door. Just as the lubricant makes it easier to open the door, marketing makes it easier to sell.

Selling, on the other hand, involves opening the door, opening the relationship, and proactively winning new clients or creating more business with existing clients. It is critical to be clear on the distinction and to integrate both marketing and sales in your business development process.

Marketing strategy begins with:

  • Determining the segment of the market that will be your focus
  • Analyzing the needs of that market segment
  • Identifying the specific clients you will target

The Raspberry Jam Rule

David Maister, long considered an expert in marketing and managing professional firms, refers to the “Raspberry Jam Rule” – the wider you spread it, the thinner it gets. Rather than paying attention to a lot of prospects, it is always better to give a lot of attention to a smaller, well-selected audience.

With strategic focus, you can begin planning the details of your marketing mix. The mix includes everything you can do to influence the demand for your services, to demonstrate your capability, and to attract clients. In marketing, the tactical mix can be grouped into four categories – the 4 P’s:

  1. Product – how you define and position your products and services
  2. Packaging – how you package your products and services (materials, brochures, website, etc.)
  3. Price – how you set the price, service agreements, discounts, terms, guarantees, billing practices
  4. Promotion – how you promote your services (direct mail, newsletters, seminar events, articles, webinars)

A well-executed marketing plan will generate high quality leads. But without a clear sales process, too many of those leads will remain just that – leads.

The definition of selling in Webster’s New World Dictionary is “to cause to take.” Having a clear process that helps your clients to take (buy) your service is what it’s all about. It’s an enormously untapped opportunity for many professional people.

Before we examine the sales process, it’s important to pay attention to our thoughts, assumptions and beliefs about selling. Unfortunately, many professionals equate sales with the in-your-face aggressive approach.

Sadly, we’ve all experienced the negative impact of a hard sales approach. But the hard sell is dead. Selling has evolved significantly in the business world. It’s now a profession, with people who are committed to using the art and skill of true professionals. What’s been your experience with this? I’d love to hear from you leave a comment.

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This entry was posted by TanjaParsley on July 22, 2011 in Intentional Selling™, Sales Skills. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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