Why Marketing Can’t Fix a Sales Problem

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When monthly sales targets are not being achieved and the spark between our offerings to our clients starts to misfire and our business starts to lose traction many small to medium sized businesses will turn to marketing first for their preferred solution to correcting poor performance. Sue Barrett an article posted on shows us that marketing will not solve a sales problem in a business. Sue Barrett is the founder and CEO of the innovative and forward thinking sales advisory and education firm Barrett. Sue,”Many people have been taught to think they have a marketing problem when they actually have a sales problem. As a result many start-ups and SMEs have failed to get traction and then fallen over because they didn’t address their sales problem with the right sales solution, instead relying on marketing.”

Unless you are an online business or retail business that is predominately marketing led it is often a fatal mistake for most other types of businesses, especially those in the business to business space. So why is it still socially more acceptable to say, I have a marketing problem and not a sales problem? Why do so many businesses still reach for the marketing silver bullet rather than look at the issues around selling?

Sue’s points:

Marketing Is More Appealing

* Marketing has done better PR job than sales over the last 50 years and is perceived as more attractive. It also keeps people away from the more personal and often trickier task of selling.

* Marketing seems like an easier fix than sales because if you admit to having a sales problem you then either have to learn how to sell or manage sales people, which is often far more confronting for many people.

* There is a plethora of marketing apps and offers that promise great results that do not address sales issues.

* Many people do not like to be associated with the concept or the act of selling because of the prevailing negative stereotypes about selling so they divert to multiple activities that on the surface appear more appealing, attractive and less stressful.

There’s A Lot Of Confusion And Lack Of Understanding About The Inner Workings Of Both Sales And Marketing

* Many people don’t know the difference between sales and marketing, often calling the strategies and tasks of sales marketing, thus creating confusion over what is what and when to apply the right sales and marketing activities and tasks at the right time.

* The majority of people starting businesses have never been taught how to sell or how to build and implement sales strategy and sales market segmentation plans, or how to recruit, induct, coach and lead sales people or how to sell without compromising their personal activity. At the same time marketing is a common and ratified subject in many tertiary courses and marketing books are a common staple on business people’s shelves. Marketing seems more legitimate.

Sue, ”Sadly when people address a sales problem with a marketing solution, it hurts both the disciplines and reputations of sales and marketing because use it doesn’t solve the problem and only makes matters worse.”


What’s The Moral Of The Story?

Sue, “Know the difference between sales and marketing and treat the issues with the right approach. Selling is not something to be feared. Selling is something to be studied, learned and applied just like marketing. Remember everybody lives by selling something.”

This article is about understanding that sales and marketing are related but not the same. Problems in a business when turnover is under pressure, should not automatically trigger a run towards your marketing gurus to find a solution. The defect will most likely be a breakdown with your sales set up. Therefore don’t waste money and time by trying to find the solution engaging marketing experts to correct the weaknesses.

We have seen how embracing marketing strategy is considered a more acceptable approach than working with sales teams to right the wrongs and find a solution. A clear vision of what creates healthy sales performance and the way to discover it will set you on the right path. Industry experts like Sue Barrett are working towards giving sales divisions of organisations more acknowledgement of their efforts by introducing Industry accepted courses that will compete with the more accepted marketing studies that are available. Over time this will raise the sales bar to bring it in line with these marketing qualifications that have been available for a long time.

It is clear, training in sales is more hands on, and people orientated discipline. An individual stands alone and must take full responsibility when applying the sales craft and does not have the opportunity to blame technical malfunctions, for example, when practicing marketing techniques. With time more opportunities will be available to qualify in Industry sales training programs. After all we should all equip ourselves accordingly because every day at any moment will be selling something to someone whether we like it or not.

Hayley James.


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