When I was a youth my mother would tell me I’d be good in sales. I never related to her about this because I was more interested in being a professional baseball player, tennis player, and eventually a rock-n-roller. But as those dreams faded I began to see what she was getting at.
Now, I am writing about it…
In middle school I would produce mixed cassette tapes (remember those?) of the latest radio hits. I would custom design the sleeve for each recipient and give them out as gifts. The artwork of the sleeve always included a sketch of my “record company” logo — RyJeGe. Doing this got me in good with the girls, for sure.
In the mid-nineties before the World Wide Web was a thing, I attempted to make an interactive print publication with poetry, games, and short stories. Looking back, I realize I was trying to blog, but blogging didn’t exist yet. This effort however was my first crack at producing and publishing content to build an audience.
In the late nineties and early 2000s before the world was entirely digital I always carried a notepad with me so that as I met people I could record their names and phone numbers (and eventually their email addresses). This was the beginning of building my own rolodex of contacts. I still have those notepads full of contacts over the years.
During this time I was in a rock band and it was imperative to meet new people and invite them to our shows. This is where email was real handy. As I met folks on the street I would tell them about the band and our shows and take down their email so I could notify them of upcoming gigs.
Even if we only got 20-30 people to a gig at a local venue, the manager was happy because we brought people in, and they would have us back. And for us we were growing our fan base.
All this I share because this was the path that led me to where my profession is today — a mashup of media production, networking, and sales.
Sales and Marketing
Often times people think they need to “bridge the gap” between marketing and sales. As if they are separate functions within the company. But I do not look at it that way. I see sales as a function of marketing. A wheel within a larger wheel.
The definition of ‘marketing’ is defined as:
n.The act or process of buying and selling in a market.
n.The strategic functions involved in identifying and appealing to particular groups of consumers, often including activities such as advertising, branding, pricing, and sales.
n.The act of going to or transacting business in a market.
All the activities I described earlier classify as “strategic functions” as described above. Sales is defined as:
n.The exchange of goods or services for an amount of money or its equivalent; the act of selling.
n.A selling of property to the highest bidder; an auction.
While sales is what transacts these activities into revenue, marketing is not just what feeds the sales pipeline. Marketing is the entire system within which sales occur. There is nothing to bridge. Sales is already inside, like air in your lungs or logs on a fire.
Technically, sales is a function of marketing.
There are several phases to the marketing process, one of which is growing your network so that you have a pool of people to market your product. This phase can be achieved in multiple ways — event marketing, content marketing, and networking. Each method produces its own types of output, the sum of which must contribute to your bottom line, which occurs by closing the sale.
When people talk about being “good at sales,” they typically mean they are good at closing deals. After all, this is what converts all other efforts into revenue.
But sales is more than closing deals. Sales is about qualifying (and disqualifying) prospects and leading the right customer along the path to “the sale.” And sales is also about finding the right people, as well.
You can call it marketing if you like. But then you’ll have an imaginary bridge to gap that gives everybody excuses for being lazy and underperforming.
Mother Knows Best
My mother was insightful to see that I’d be “good at sales.” I’ve been demonstrating that all my life - networking with folks, building rapport, organizing contacts for short-term and long-term nurturing, prospecting, etc. And she saw that in me. I didn’t realize until later in life how insightful she was, but I’m reminded of it each day as I grow my business.
Which is why I felt compelled to share. After all, my business success hinges large in part on my ability to sell others on my ideas…through all phases of the marketing process.