What’s the difference between sales and marketing? And why are both equally important?
Hear about JoyGenea and Michelle’s start in both sales and marketing, as well as their challenges working with several clients who don’t understand the difference between the two. During this podcast, we will discuss lead to cost ratios, marketing and sales funnels, and how to calculate the gamble you make on each from a business perspective.
M: Hi everyone! I am Michelle, owner of BadCat Digital.
J: And I’m JoyGenea, and I own Solutions by JoyGenea. And welcome to “If These Heels Could Talk.”
M: Today on our show we will be talking in detail about the difference between sales and marketing.
J: Both are really important for a business, but we find that often clients don’t understand the difference between the two and why you need to have different goals in each area.
M: That is very, very true. It’s like people have sales and marketing departments and so they’ll have sales goal for the final but, of course you know it’s a whole chain—it’s a whole funnel and the marketing is really, kind of, precedes the sales.
M: You know you have to market to lay the seeds for strong sales in the next half of the year—maybe the next quarter or the next year—but I think this is one of the reasons that marketing departments get cut so often. Like they are one of the first to go.
J: Yeah so what I kind of looked up is that sales—when I was doing some research for this—focuses on closing the deal, making the sale, the sales process…and really, sales is very measurable.
M: Oh yeah, absolutely.
J: Right away, when you say that that’s why sales doesn’t get cut, they can make themselves measurable. They’re like, “Look, you need us.” Obviously you do to close the deal, but marketing on the other hand, it doesn’t have an end point per say. It has strategies—not quite a process—and then it’s about the branding and the identity.
M: And it’s about making the sales easier and there are some measurable effects of marketing. You can talk about lead generation for the sale, but the thing with that is—and I have been in a lot of these meeting where there are too many leads or too few—and you think, what do you mean too many leads? Is that really a problem? And then it turns out that the sales team is overwhelmed by the number of leads or my favorite term, “they’re just not qualified.” Which, depending on the day, somedays I’m thinking, “Okay, well you’re right, people are visiting the website. They’re out looking for something slightly different than what we are selling. We are planting seeds for the future, so if they sign up for a webinar that doesn’t necessarily mean they want widget A. Totally get that. Totally get that conversation. But in my more cynical moments in time—of which there are several—and you know, the longer I open a business, the more rapidly they are coming.
J: Oh yeah.
M: And so, I’m wondering if at some point, they’re just gonna meld together and then they’ll become the only thought process, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. But in my more cynical moments, I look at whenever somebody on a sales team says they’re just not qualified. I’m like, so you mean you want to turn from a sales person to an order taker? Because that’s what it turns into. If you’re trying to get them pre-sold, that’s not marketing’s job.
M: Marketing’s job is to get them in the door.
J: To fill the funnel.
M: To fill the funnel.
J: As you always say, you’re like filling the funnel.
M: We’re filling the funnel. And sometimes, that funnel is a two-year funnel.
J: Oh, that’s not bad.
M: A two year bi-cycle on, especially industrial equipment, manufacturing equipment, large purchases…I mean, the thought process when somebody is buying a car could take months before they are even interested. Now, especially with large purchases—especially with large purchases for a household—you got two people—typically two people—who are making that decision or one person who is trying to make it in a vacuum. I mean, and you’re competing with unlike things. When I was selling furniture, my boss always used to say, “You’re not just competing with furniture store across the street, you are competing with the Disney vacation. You’re competing with a new car. You’re competing with a hot water heater, you know.”
M: Because that’s what’s going to take that similar budget from the household. J: Now is that where you kinda started in sales?
M: Yeah. I never intended to do any of this kind of work.
J: How did you wind up in a furniture store?
M: I graduated with an interior design degree the month after the housing market collapsed.
J: Oh, then you instantly came into marketing there. Marketing first and then it became some sales.
M: Well yeah, I had an internship lined up. I had kind of everything lined up. I had already moved.
J: That would make sense.
M: I went to school in a small-town in Western Wisconsin and I had already moved to the metropolitan area an hour and half away for all the jobs that were available after graduation, and then I woke up three weeks before graduation and everything disappeared. Just everything disappeared overnight. All of the internships in the industry disappeared. Everybody stopped hiring anybody without any experience and it lasted for years.
J: What an interesting…I can’t imagine being about twentyish something, early twenty something, and—
M: Well, it was my second degree so I was in my late twenties, so I had already gone through this once with a different degree.
J: I know you. You are very goal-orientated. You’re very likely to move forward and to all of sudden have like, everything that was future just shifts.
M: And it was really hard actually emotionally. We need to do this in another podcast. It had happened with my previous degree as well.
J: Just not the entire housing market.
M: Just it wasn’t the entire housing market, but it was the plan that I had for myself didn’t pan, and so you know so you end up in your parents’ basement eating Girl Scout cookies and watching television for way too long. But this time what I did was I got a job at a furniture store and I thought Well, I have this background and I have this passion for this and for design and I’ve never sold anything. And they took a chance on me with commission sales and I did well. I did very well.
M: Yeah it was fun.
J: I am not surprised. So, when did you start to get into marketing? Like when did the marketing side of it…?
M: I actually they were hiring a—they called it a web admin position—but really it was a member of the marketing team—the digital marketing person—and so it was the person who managed and maintained their website as well as did their email work, and I applied for it and got that role. So I left the sales floor and I went to the back office.
J: So right there.
M: And then I learned marketing on the job.
J: Right, so right there you learned the distinct line between sales and marketing. Like there was a distinct line in that retail environment.
M: For my own education I was invited to, but not required to, attend the marketing team meetings, which was the—it’s a small business—so it was the owner of the company and the buyer—they had two signature buyers. They were on the marketing team, and I got to know the people in their ad agency and then I hired a digital agency to do some work for us, and so that’s how everything started. I worked in that role for just under two years and oversaw a website transition and saw a ton of stuff from the client side, and I learned the marketing advertising from that committee. We met every week.
J: During a time when they were hungry just like everybody else—like they were looking to survive. There was a lean budget I’m assuming, but yet like they knew all of those things sales was still necessary and marketing was still very necessary.
M: Yup, and I really understood. I was able to understand the difference between kind of a promotional advertising and true marketing, which are two different things. Advertising promotions is its own kind of branch of marketing. And so that’s always another part to where it’s one of those things that if I am with a client or with a client who maybe doesn’t have as much experience, it’s always about what’s the next promotion. We’ve got to think past that a little bit and to some why kind of things.
J: Yeah, expand the conversation. So for me, I got into sales when I was…when I look back…when I was 7 years old and I sold leopard frogs on the corner during a fishing tournament.
M: Ahhh yes…Supply and demand.
J: You got it. I had an immense supply of leopard frogs and I had a one-day demand. 5 AM in the morning on the corner with my little table and my little scooper and my leopard frogs in a bucket.
M: Where did you get the leopard frogs?
J: My father worked in an environment that had a massive over quantity of them, and so I had access to those.
M: So you had a scooper for the frogs. Did people buy them by the dozen?
J: Yes. You buy by the dozen. I would have to dig in the pail and pull out my dozen—count them as they’re trying to run like everywhere.
M: I was going to say, they are alive.
J: Oh yeah, yeah. And then put them in their live pail ‘cause you want them living when you go fishing. They attract more fish. So then they have a bucket that I would put it in for them and off it would go.
M: You know on some level that’s a little disturbing. Like, here, I am gonna spear this thing on a hook and drop it in the water and because it’s thrashing…
J: It’s going to attract the sharky fish…I know.
M: But that’s awesome. So supply and demand for a day.
J: Yup. That was my first sales venture and then Girl Scouts teaches you so much about sales. Yeah, and then there’s a sales quota you know, and I wanted to do so well and I wanted to get the little prizes. I walked our town of 550…man, like every door got knocked on. I’m like, “Hi, I am selling Girl Scout cookies.” And this was before you could like…Anyway, I had to hand deliver those bad boys so it wasn’t just that I went and sold it. It was then when they came in like a month and a half, two months later. Then this same little 8- or 9-year-old is wandering around with her wagon making her deliveries.
M: That’s so cute.
J: It was super cute and that’s why they bought so many. Like it worked really well for me.
M: Of course it did. So this was also your first experience learning that when you are cute you do better?
J: Yes. And wear your uniform with your little sash and look all good when you do this thing. And what I would recommend though is not going alone like I did. Should have maybe been in pairs…shared some of the sales. Would have been okay.
M: Or having some sort of guardian. A responsible adult.
J: Things have changed a little bit. The marketing came later and there were on and off sales things that I did. I didn’t do Mary Kay but I did Stampin’ Up. Oh, I tried that for awhile. Little hobbies that became business type things. Early 2000 I wound up in a partnership as part-owner of a NASCAR legend car.
J: And racing. I know right?
J: What I quickly learned…my role overall was one to like, fix things and make sure the car was on the racetrack and my driver was okay and so forth. But it was also…it then became paying for this experience because every time you get hit, you just watch dollar signs like shoot into the air because it’s going to cost to keep this thing going, and all of a sudden sponsorship. And I’ve got to say, NASCAR is amazing for marketing. You’re not selling anything, you’re marketing it. You’re talking about it. You’re building brands so forth, and so I really just absorbed NASCAR and ran with it. So we had multiple sponsors, we did parades, we showed up. It was the first website that I did. HTML. I would upload all of his times. We had followers. I mean, it was really really early on in the digital age, so that’s where I really cut my teeth in getting that you have to be having this conversation. You have to be engaged.
M: You have to be authentic.
M: When you thing about the concept of building a brand there is a lot of lessons to be learned from iconic brands.
M: I mean one of the most iconic ones is Harley Davidson. NASCAR is an iconic brand as well. It evokes exactly what they want it to evoke when you say the name good, bad, ugly. Right? It is what it is.
J: Any sporting. I was gonna say, it has followers. It has…I mean, that’s amazing marketing.
M: It really is. Harley Davidson is another one. And a lot of people—not everybody—not everybody agrees. People disagree. A lot of people will debate the product itself. They will debate the quality of the product. They debate, but nobody debates the brand.
M: I mean, people get it tattooed on them.
J: Right. Like it doesn’t get much better than that.
J: From a marketing perspective.
M: I think we should all aim at tattoos. I want my brand to tattoo worth.
J: At what point is that impossibly creepy, but you’re out somewhere and somebody is just like, “Hey look at…I got your tattoo.”
M: I think that’s why we ordered those fake tattoos with the BadCat logo, ‘cause we wanted the brand to be tattoo-worthy.
J: That’s awesome.
M: Let’s take a moment to hear from our sponsors. Oh wait, we don’t have sponsors so were gonna take a hot minute to tell you about the non-profit that JoyGenea or I or both of us actively support in our community. If you’re not lucky enough to be a neighbor of ours, each of these organizations are represented in most communities and we encourage you to seek out local opportunities to gift your time and energy.
J: This is JoyGenea.
M: And Michelle.
J: And we are both passionate about healthy relationships and education and that’s why we both support Anna Marie’s Alliance, a local domestic abuse shelter that houses women and children in transition from violent situations, in addition to doing extensive community outreach and education.
M: Anna Marie’s works with local school districts to help children identify positive outlets for emotion, healthy relationship behavior, as well as counsels women and men in heterosexual and queer relationships on the different ways violence and abuse enters and manifests in relationships.
J: Consider Anna Marie’s in your charitable giving. Thank you for taking a moment to hear from our sponsors. And now let’s get back to the podcast.
J: So when we’re in conversations with clients, though, that’s how we kind of evolved here, and you know obviously then owning my own businesses and so forth. I became my own sales and marketing department, but I get that there’s just this line and I find when I am talking to really small businesses…
M: They use them interchangeably.
J: They do, they don’t. What I really find is they don’t set sales goals. And they don’t understand what the marketing is doing to bring in revenue into the fund. Like bring in the leads into the funnel which then…
M: Well and there’s usually a massive disconnect especially in smaller companies and this actually, but this is something that big companies do is they don’t know their lead to close ratio.
J: Do they know what it costs to get a lead?
J: Oh. So those are some really important things.
M: They’re really important things if you’re looking at the whole picture. The first thing is that somebody thinks…they become aware. It is called the awareness phase. A consumer becomes—or even somebody in a business who would consume a business to business product—becomes aware that they have a need and then they begin to research that need and then they make decisions about that need. Then if you are in the running for that they will raise their hand and say I am interested in this and that is the marketing funnel. That’s not the sales funnel. The sales funnel starts after all of that happens, so that whole process that’s happening in that person’s brain or potentially on Google or when they’re out there asking on Facebook, “Hey, I need a new roof. Whose got some recommendations?” All of that thing is that person in that process. That’s the marketing process and that’s where you want to be when you’re marketing. Sales is after they’ve raised their hand.
M: On some level they either take your phone call if you’re cold calling or they call you and say I’m interested in this. Now sales starts. And so, it really is only half of the picture to only pay attention to one or the other or to think that they’re part of the same…they’re part of the same process but they’re not the same expertise.
J: Do you see that? I know you work with bigger companies and so forth, so do you see even with bigger companies that the line is so blurry? I know from my perspective a sales person is a different personality than a real marketing person, so as your company gets bigger, defining that I think…
M: One of the things that usually kind of…and it is that concept that you know almost always in a revenue, growth-driven company like if they are really aggressive about growth and driving sales, the vice president of business development or the chief sales executive will be at the executive table. Whoever is the head of the sales department could be one salesperson and that person is the de facto head. Could be the owner is the head of the sales department and the owner is still selling, or it could be they already differentiated. They have an executive board, but that salesperson is at that table. And the marketing person rarely is. So there will be a marketing director who answers to that chief salesperson organizationally. And so what’s interesting about that structure is, it’s very common in growth-orientated, growth-driven, but you’re not paying enough attention to the far future. You’re paying a lot of attention to the immediate future. What’s happening this quarter? What’s next?
M: Numbers. How many leads came in? How many did we close? What’s our average close ratio? Our average close number our average revenue net profit. Businesses can’t survive without those numbers.
J: Right, no.
M: But there are other numbers too and those numbers are things like, what’s our market penetration? How many people know our name? How many times are we getting searched on Google versus not? All of those things are indicators that you are going to have a better year next year. And those are the kind of things—those are the key performance indicators or KPI’s. Those are the kinds of things that you can hold a marketing person accountable to. But because that marketing person’s jobs stops at the lead growth-minded, revenue-driven companies just don’t. All of the quote unquote credit is gonna go to the sales guy who closes it and brings it home. It’s interesting to me that that person isn’t sitting at that executive table and it’s very common that they wouldn’t, and the largest companies, of course there is a chief marketing officer. But even then, even then it’s just not treated on the same level and I’m not saying that’s for one reason or another. I’m just thinking, gosh what would it be if we were all a little more future-minded? If we were all thinking about planting the seeds for next year?
J: Well typically in farming, it tends to turn out really well. Like the crop comes up and works out better, weather permitting. There is always variables in there but you have to plant.
M: Then it’s…my metaphor is sloppy because in a farm situation, that farmer would be the salesperson and the person who is the marketing person is the person buying next year’s seeds and deciding what is going to be in that field and that field and that field so that the farmer can plant the seeds. And so that the thing that they are so hand-in-hand…it does meet different goals but at the end of the day, it’s everybody’s win when sales go up.
J: Absolutely. That’s the big measurable. When you own a business, like the sales is the big measurable but it is so important to also be accountable. The organizer in me kicks in and is like, okay there need be some goals and some strategies within the marketing for that long-term. Like, how are we attracting people? What is that conversation gonna be for next? Like in farming, how is that conversation gonna be for next year? What are we focusing on?
M: And when you are doing both—like we are for our own businesses—when you’re doing both it can often look to the outside world like some of the networking things you’re doing or some of the committees you’re on or some of the time you’re spending doing this will never pay off or isn’t a good time spend. And it kind of ties back into a previous conversation about being strategic about where you spend that kind of community involvement time because it’s marketing.
M: I have that conversation in my personal life with my husband a lot.
- And I remind people certain organizations, when you join them, are different than other, you know, marketing types of things, and so I remind people I have a certain organization I am a part of and when (particularly salespeople) join, they’re like, “How do I work this room?” They flat out ask me. They’re like, “How do I work this room? How do I get the most sales?” And I am like, “Oh, this is a slow drip. This is like a five- to ten-year plan.” And they will look at me like, uhhhhh, and they usually make it about a year. They’re just like, wow I got like 2 sales, I’m out. And I’m just like, that’s fine. You know they definitely belong in a different type of service work or networking kind of group or something because certain things just don’t have that…that type. It’s a different farming strategy. And for a salesperson who is number driven and so forth but maybe hasn’t stepped back a little bit to realize that it’s a two-fold thing. There’s your immediate and then there’s your long term. As a small business owner, I always encourage people when I am coaching them you want a little of both. Go out and get…go do that intense…you got to show up every week and type the thing but then get involved with something that you’re passionate about also, and get on a committee and just keep showing up and get to know the people and just be present in that manner in building your brand also. In both areas.
M: And when you take that and extrapolate it into the bigger picture or into something larger, it’s that concept of giving. It’s that concept of, how do you do corporate giving in a way that’s going to make sense? How do you advertise in a way that’s going to get in front of people enough so that when they think about your service they think of you? How are you going to get your name to be a household name? And so what I always say to people is that we’re building a bandwagon and we want everybody to be on it. I want people to want to be on the bandwagon. I don’t want to have to go force them or ask them or seek them out. I want them seeking me out and that’s what good marketing does. It makes you a bandwagon that people want to jump on.
J: Think about when people…what attracts us when we’re scrolling through our Instagram feed or our Facebook feed—whatever grabs us—we’re watching television and a commercial all of sudden grabs us and you instantly want to know a little more about that.
M: You reach for your phone and you go search it.
J: Like I totally give the credit. Like I sat through a commercial the other day and I am a super power forwarder and I’m like, oh my gosh that was so funny. Like I had to give them credit. Like that’s great branding and marketing. Like I totally got sucked into that, thank you.
M: And it’s happening less and less especially with television.
J: Oh absolutely. Commercials are dying.
M: Awful. They are awful. And I am wondering if it’s because people do expect it to be faster. People do expect. Companies at that level are creating more content and so each piece of content is getting thought about less and the best commercials have hundreds of man hours in there concepting, writing, and surveying to make sure that the actors are correct. Hundreds and thousands of man hours into that kind of stuff and so people are not willing to do $11 million-dollar campaigns. But when they are, and you can tell when they are…Gillette ads are a really good example of that, because they are a little longer. They’re like mini movies, but somebody really, really thought about those. And a team of people concepted and created that and because they were so controversial, they got so much free media out of it that it was totally worth their money.
J: It paid off. You know that’s another thing about marketing. A little bit…it’s a little bit of a gamble.
M: Totally. Always. It is always a gamble.
J: But you can always pivot just like you were talking about your life. You got to the spot and you went, ahh, well that all moved. You gotta pivot. You start out with a marketing plan and you’re movin’ along and you’re like, boy, the numbers just aren’t resonating. Typically from there, tend to pivot something and I am always surprised, like all of a sudden it pivots nicely and people grab it and share it.
M: And it ends up being what it’s supposed to be. The key takeaway here is that when you do that—when you’re pivoting your marketing plan—it’s not because the sales numbers aren’t there, it’s because the early indicator numbers aren’t there, so identifying what those early indicator numbers are for your business is really important.
J: How does somebody do that?
M: The best way to do that is take that marketing fall that we talked about. That awareness free search. That funnel, you can look it up on Google. Some of them have a 4 steps, some of them don’t. It doesn’t matter. They’re kind of the same concept, they just break it down differently. But I take that funnel and I identified key performance indicators at those different levels for the different efforts that we have. An awareness key performance indicator might be impressions. How many impressions an ad got, so how many times it was seen. A research key performance indicator might be how many clicks it got because if people are not interested, they’re not gonna click. Decision-making might be how long somebody stayed on the website, whether they left after visiting a single page. All of those things, and then of course if they raised their hand, you have to measure those sorts of things on your Facebook page on your website. There are mechanisms for all of that. The challenge is pairing those mechanisms with your sales system mechanisms. That’s where the disconnect is. That’s a challenge.
J: ‘Cause then it’s like we go this lead and now it falls into sales process. We go from the final and now we’re in the sales process and once we get over that, I find a lot of people do not have a good sales process. Like, then we wind up with that. A lead comes in and it’s like blah, I handed it to so and so and well, did they call them back?
M: And this is who follows up on it and this is who’s accountable. Yeah, that’s its own kind of…that’s its own thing in and of there. Your marketing can be on and your sales can be down because there are six steps between your marketing working well and your sales actually coming in and revenue actually coming in the door. From a statistical and kind of data standpoint, where the gap is, is that in that personally identifiable information that is blocked in all of those kind of metrics online. So unless somebody fills out a form and gives you their information, you don’t know who they were until that point and so it’s really difficult to pair a specific marketing tactic or specific strategy with a performance filled out, which frustrates people and then they go back and they don’t know what worked and what didn’t. So unless somebody raises their hand that way, it’s really difficult to track them all the way through. That’s where people have the disconnect, but honestly, at the end of the day, if your sales are up 30% over last year, your marketing is working so just do it that way more. And if you want to try things, try things, but try things in addition to what you’re doing. Don’t dump what you’re doing. Your sales are up, you’ve got some more money, add some to the marketing budget.
J: Do a little sandbox test. Test a few little things on the side. Talk to your marketing department.
M: Yes, and hopefully they have a seat at that executive decision-making table so that they understand what’s coming down the pipe and they can help you. 5% to 8% of gross revenue—depending on the industry and who you talk to—that’s what people spend on marketing and advertising. It’s 5% to 8% of gross revenue, which is not that high, but if you’re gross revenue is $3 million, that’s not 10 bucks and a smile. That’s some serious money. And so, if you are not spending 5% to 8% on your marketing and advertising, you’re getting outspent. And that’s a problem. When you look at what your industry is doing, it’s gonna be specific. Retail is gonna be higher, restaurants will be lower because the margin’s not there. It just depends, right. That’s the base line metric. When marketing people come to you and they say here’s what something costs instead of looking at it as new money to go out the door, you have to look at it as, does it fit into that 5% 8%?
J: And does it fit into your plan over the long haul?
M: The long haul. And how are you going to measure the accuracy of that spend? I get all the time…I get questions about, let’s just do a 3-month test on this or that and I’m like…
J: You’re barely launched at 3 months.
M: Exactly. I’m sitting here going, are you kidding? I don’t understand what…what we’re gonna learn…
J: Other than we can start something.
M: Well, and when I started the business, of course you’re hungry. You need to do that, but after a while, no.
J: Well, when you can’t. Small business learning here. When you aren’t able to provide them with in that feedback those numbers and demonstrate that it helped you be able to say actually, this only works on a one-year…at least a one-year strategy. And then the clients are a lot happier you…a lot happier.
M: Everybody is a lot happier and the intense work you do at the beginning, you haven’t wasted because of wanting it to work instantly.
J: That’s part of the sales side of us I think. As small business owners.
M: I totally agree.
J: It’s like the little sales side of you is just like, we will just do this for this little bit and it just doesn’t quite work that way.
M: When people ask me how much money they should spend on an ad on Facebook or on Google or something, I say, “Well how much can you afford to lose?” ‘Cause that’s what gambling is, right? How much can you afford? Let’s say you run this ad for 6 months; How much can you afford to lose in that 6 months without anything coming back to you? ‘Cause that’s the gamble we’re taking. Do I think it’s going to work out? Of course I think it’s going to work. We wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think it was going to work. But at the end of the day, I can’t promise there’s no guarantee. How much can you lose? Well, and very real people say, “I cant lose anything.” I’m like, that’s not really true.
J: That’s not how marketing works.
M: And that’s not how business works. Everything is a gamble. Every decision is a gamble.
J: Absolutely. But it’s calculated.
M: It’s a calculated gamble.
J: It’s calculated. We hope that today you’ve been able to grasp a better understanding of the difference between sales and marketing and maybe have a firmer understanding of how to set some strategic goals in both areas and have some measurables so that you can feel the progress of your efforts. Being a small business owner…sometimes seeing the progress can be challenging.
J: And we definitely want you to feel progress and success more than just the bottom line revenue.
M: Yeah. That was an excellent way to put it, JoyGenea.
J: Thank you, Michelle. This was so much fun. That’s all for us today. Thank you for joining us on “If These Heels Could Talk.” We hope that you have learned a few new things. We encourage you to continue growing, and we look forward to you tuning in next time and listening to us. Thanks!