Will Kennard
Will Kennard 12 May 2015

Are Marketing And Sales Completely Separate?

Do digital staff need to be skilled in both marketing and sales?

You’ve probably been in this situation yourself: as a digital marketer I occasionally get asked by friends and family whether I spend my days ringing people and trying to sell stuff to them over the phone.

And it’s really annoying, because this is very far away from what I do for a living, but to those who don’t fully understand the differences between sales and marketing they can be easily confused.

But the more I think about it, although I make it explicitly clear I’m not a salesperson there are still many aspects of my role as a digital marketer that are sales oriented.

So I ask the question: how valuable and relevant are sales skills in digital marketing?
Push & Pull
In my opinion Sales and Marketing can quite simply be referred to as ’push or pull’ strategies. Push and pull is a pretty old-school term which I learnt whilst doing a business degree, but it often only referred to sales in the traditional sense. It seems more appropriate than ever to use the terms to describe digital marketing and sales.

A push strategy would be sales - you use tactics which ’push’ your services or products to potential customers, and often this is the method of creating the ‘need’. Tactics like telesales, email list marketing and direct marketing are used to put your service offering in front of people.

A pull strategy is the opposite - your tactics are based around using digital marketing to ’pull’ those who have already recognised a need for your products and services. The customer searches for what they think they need, and your SEO, PPC and Content efforts are there to direct them to your website which, providing you have a strong digital strategy in place, demonstrates your expertise.

Although there are obviously many areas where the both cross over (for instance social advertising) as a digital marketer I have a natural tendency to sway myself and clients towards the pull strategies.

But are there areas where sales skills are still relevant?

The Value of Sales Skills
Even in a role dominated by many ’pull’ methods and strategies, there are still several areas where sales skills become very important.

The Pitch
The most obvious area to me where sales skills are used is during a pitch. I recently learned during a sales training programme that regardless of what the situation is - from working agency side and pitching to a potential client or working in-house and presenting ideas for a project - you are selling something.

Even if you are the most incredible and talented digital marketer with a whole range of expertise, you’ll be no good if you can’t sell in a pitch. To be able to present your ideas clearly and coherently whilst winning over an audience is a sales skill that must be honed.

Everyday Upselling
In digital marketing, even something as simple as a phone call to a client can be an opportunity to sell. Although you must not be pushy and sell things the client doesn’t need, providing trust and expert advice in your day to day work often comes with the opportunity to upsell, and only those with sales skills will excel in this.

It’s pretty much a given that you’ll be writing copy at some point during your digital marketing career, whether it be for paid advertising copy or landing pages - sales techniques will become useful. The ability to sculpt page copy to be both useful, informative, and to direct calls to action is a great skill.

It’s easy to think sales has gone away.

Sales skills are essential and are going nowhere anytime soon. Even if you have the best digital marketing strategy or are the biggest genius, you still aren’t going to win clients (or internal budget pitches) if you don’t have the ability to ’sell’ - you must still remain commercially aware at all times, and whether we like it or not sales skills are at the heart of this.

This article was written as a guest post by Natural Training, specialist sales training providers based in Old Street, London.

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