Alison Edgar MBE explains her analogy that sales, marketing and operations are like golf
As The Entrepreneur’s Godmother®, I work with a lot of businesses of all sizes. But one of the most common things I see is the lack of definition of the transition between marketing and sales. The struggle to define what are marketing activities and where sales kicks in. It leads to people conjoining them to ‘salesandmarketing!’ But in my opinion, they are two different things, let me explain with my golf analogy.
Marketing are the ones who create brand awareness – your website, social media, billboards, paid advertising, mailshots and all those lovely activities which can be done using your keyboard. In golf terms, they put the tee in the ground and put the ball on the tee, they set things up by raising awareness of the brand and its products and services.
Sales then move in to start conversations with prospects, either by cold outreach or contacting inbound leads. It’s where the humans start to get involved. In golf terms they take the ball up the fairway, put it on the green and put the ball in the hole, as only when the ball does go in the hole does the company make any money, it’s the equivalent of depositing money in the bank.
The better the marketing, the closer to the hole the ball is for sales, so it takes less customer contact to close the deal.
I’m frequently asked if cold calling still works, my answer is yes for some people, but it’s the same as the likely hood of getting a hole in one at a 500-yard par 5! A better option for me is to get marketing to take some of the shots first, using LinkedIn and specific targeted paid advertising to raise brand awareness before reaching out and starting a sales conversation. Trust is a key component to any relationship, and you are more likely to deal with a person or brand you are familiar with.
But in a world of internet driven revenue, how does the golf analogy work for ecommerce, for things like Amazon, TikTok shop and eBay? This is not sales at all, there is no human interaction, this is the holy grail for a lot of companies for revenue as it’s a hole in one for marketing!! I’ve met many companies who dream of never having to speak to their customers again, they just want to list their products and get them to fly off the shelves. Luckily for them, E-commerce sales are expected to grow a staggering 10.4% in 2023 (according to Forbes Magazine).
Holes in one for marketing tend to happen more often in the business to consumer space, but where the magic happens, in the business-to-business world is when sales and marketing work together. Generating buyers who have a genuine interest in buying a product but want face to face of telephone conversation to start a long-term business to business relationship that they can rely on for honest consultative advice and buy from time and time again.
But what about the other departments in the business? Like finance, distribution, order fulfilment and the rest of the wonderful back of house functions that are the backbone of any business. They are like the greenkeepers they toil away, cutting the grass, perfecting the greens, raking the bunkers, and making everything the best it can be, because if the golf course is not in great condition, the players will not return, not only that, but they will tell everyone in the clubhouse of the bad experience.
This is the same as a business gaining raving fans who buy from them over and over, it’s about creating a team who work together seamlessly to give the best experience for your customer. Of course, like golf, it’s about practising to get better and some days are better than, others, but when even when doesn’t go according to plan you pick the clubs and getting back onto the next hole.