Sales versus marketing: managing your budget

Small businesses, start-ups and growing companies can face something of an uphill struggle when it comes to establishing brand awareness and brand loyalty.

You could hire a team of sales staff to help push your products and services to a new audience or you could attempt to pursue effective marketing strategies instead; either way, you’re going to need to invest in order to grow your company. Nevertheless, what’s the best way of managing your sales and marketing budget? Is it more effective to prioritise marketing over sales, or vice versa?

Perhaps you should take a combined approach instead? Take a look at the pros and cons of each method here and decide for yourself…

The success of sales

For centuries, sales staff have been used to promoting products and services, introducing new audiences to retail opportunities they wouldn’t necessarily have encountered otherwise. Effective salesmanship can be a real skill, and it’s not one that everyone has. You may find that it takes you several employees before you find a salesperson that fits with your business. Even then, sales techniques aren’t always as successful as you’d like them to be. Today, most potential customers will be highly resistant to sales calls, and even with a consummate professional on the end of the phone, you’re not guaranteed to stay on the line for more than two minutes with a disinterested, irritable customer to charm. Both B2B and B2C firms will struggle to make an impact using sales calls alone, at least until their products and services have gained some measure of exposure elsewhere.

Adding value to your products

If your sales staff pick up the phone and contact another business or potential customer, they’re unlikely to stand much of a chance unless the person on the other end of the line has already heard of the product they’re being sold, or they believe that it stands out above its competitors. Marketing can help to build brand awareness of your company and its products and services as well as improving opinion on how it stacks up against similar offerings, so by the time your sales staff contact your potential customers, they may find that those they’re talking to are much more receptive. Investing in marketing will give your sales staff something to build on, as potential customers may already be aware of – and interested in – your products and services. Salespeople can become very effective, but you may find that it pays to put in some marketing groundwork first to establish an element of brand awareness amongst your demographic.

Pursuing cost-effective solutions

What it comes down to for your growing business is the relative cost-effectiveness of the options at your disposal. Hiring two sales staff for a year could cost you £40,000 per annum or more, while 21st century marketing provides you with countless low-cost opportunities for you to explore in the meantime. Digital marketing opportunities such as social media marketing, content marketing, viral marketing and even digital advertising can be far less costly, and even traditional marketing methods such as printed adverts networking and brochures can be low cost investments that bring a return. With the right marketing strategy, you could find that you attract a large number of new customers without having to spend over the odds to do so.

Sales and marketing can work well in combination, helping your business to actively pursue new customers and build brand awareness over time. It’s likely, however, that your sales activities will only become successful once you’ve invested in marketing first.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.