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Marketing vs Sales: What’s the drama?


Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street got me thinking about Sales vs. Marketing. During one of its scenes, the main character – played by Leonardo DiCaprio – tests his colleagues’ understanding of customers by handing each of them a pen and asking them to sell it to him.

The challenge is an attempt to identify his associates’ grasp on the key drivers that underlie sales. In most instances, people believe they need to make this pen more attractive or appealing. To sell the pen, they need to create an elevator pitch about the pen’s features and attributes.

However, one of his associates realises that it’s not so much about the pen. Instead, it is about the buyer; it’s about understanding what makes the buyer tick and motivates them to act. The scene ends with the associate not describing the pen as others had done, but instead asking: ‘Write this down for me’. To which DiCaprio’s character replies, ‘I do not have a pen…’

Marketing is?

The vignette above is an example of how marketing can drive sales. When I talk with business leaders about the value of marketing, I am often met with indignation: ‘I already invest in sales, why should I spend on marketing?’.

This attitude stems from the fact many are unaware of what marketing actually is. As such, its value can be confused with that of sales.

What many do not realise is that marketing has a strategic outlook. It involves understanding what the client wants and what drives them to act. Marketers aim to reduce the barriers to sale, allowing BDMs and other sales-centric roles a much easier ride. As Howard Gossage put it, people only see what interests them most; everything else is nothing.

So why the hesitation, why are many business leaders unable to identify the value of marketing and why are they not putting a budget behind it?

Sales and marketing working in tandem

One of the major challenges that business leaders face is bringing together the efforts of both sales and marketing and orientating them around the same goal. Getting strategic marketing and tactical sales working together is a challenge that when mastered makes the top line sing.

However getting these two jealous twins to actually play in harmony is like trying to break up a turf war.

The sales people think marketers are theoreticians who live in an ivory tower, while the marketers think that sales group are a bunch of cowboys- used car salespeople.

Getting them to work together involves finding a common goal, taking them back through the ‘Why’ conversation and then getting them focused on achieving the entire organisations business plan. The departments are two sides of the same coin; one side tactical, one side strategic. Building a regular and respectful dialogue is essential to harnessing their strengths, and facilitating that dialogue is the prerogative of the organisation’s CEO.

This does not mean they should have the same KPIs or identical metrics. This would not only be an indication of  misunderstanding the value of both departments and is also a waste of time.

Measuring a return on investment for each area of expertise requires different approaches, methods and techniques. Marketing needs to be measured through the lens of a company’s brand: What is the awareness and how easily can a customer/ prospect identify the brand? Does the marketing spend actually deliver an easier sales path? These are the key questions that should shape your measurement approach. And sales, well that is pure dollars in different segments of the funnel and actual dollars sold.

Marketing is not a add-on to your sales team. It has its own destiny, techniques and benefits, all of which complement sales. If these two functions are not behaving in harmony then the CEO should see an easy path to improving the top line by solving this issue.

Ian NealBy: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Ian Neal

Federal Budget review: Big things come in small business packages

On May 12, Treasurer Joe Hockey announced the 2015-16 Federal Budget outlining the Australian government’s fiscal intentions for the next 12 months. The plans have since been hailed as a boon for SMEs, thanks to a string of beneficial policies for the country’s small businesses.

But what impact has the Budget had on confidence? And what are the ramifications for the wider business community? This review will outline the main policies unveiled, what they mean for businesses and how industry commentators have reacted to the changes.

Key policies

It is undeniable that SMEs were the primary focus of the Budget. These organisations currently generate $330 billion of economic output and provide employment for 4.5 million Australians.

The $5.5 billion Growing Jobs and Small Business package was the government’s flagship Budget offering. Here are some of the key measures the government intends to implement for the coming year:

Tax cuts: From July 1 2015, enterprises with annual revenues totalling less than $2 million will see their company tax rate drop from 30 per cent to 28.5 per cent. There will also be a 5 per cent tax discount to unincorporated businesses with yearly turnover of below $2 million, which is designed to help sole traders and contractors.

Accelerated depreciation: Small businesses will benefit from immediate tax write-offs on any individual asset purchases worth up to $20,000 until June 30 2017.

Small Business Ombudsman: Plans for an $8 million ombudsman that will act as a single point of contact and facilitator of dispute resolution for small businesses and family enterprises were revealed.

Employment initiatives: The government will spend $331 million over the next four years in an attempt to boost job prospects for Australians through skills and training packages. The investment will target young and mature-age workers in particular.

Industry analysis of the Budget

Many industry commentators have welcomed the changes set out in the Budget. In contrast to last year’s fiscal statement, which was overly optimistic for Australian businesses, the 2015 announcement from the treasurer is likely to provide chief executives and business owners with the resources to grow effectively in a competitive market.

Stephanie Christopher, CEO of The Executive Connection (TEC), said the incentives announced in the Budget are a nod to the growth opportunities that Australian businesses can provide for the country’s economy.

‘The generous tax breaks, including the 1.5 per cent tax cut, and the accelerated depreciation measures, will provide the additional cash flow businesses need to adapt to changes in the economy and drive growth via investment and innovation,’ she explained.

‘With skills and talent also a key business challenge; organisations will also benefit from the government’s key skills and training packages, which includes seeing older workers over 50 bolster their skills and get back into the workforce.’

Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia Jennifer Westacott said the 2015 Budget was sensible, as it took pragmatic steps to balance the country’s need to get fiscal strategy back on track while still building growth.

She specifically praised the $20,000 write-off mechanism for asset purchases. The extent of the allowed deductions surprised many analysts, with Ms Westacott claiming it will drive productivity and create jobs.

‘The small business package provides some welcome relief by assisting start-ups and helping to keep small enterprises to be competitive,’ she stated.

Impact on the wider business community

Despite the obvious benefits for SMEs, the Budget outlined few measures that directly supported larger organisations. A recent TEC member poll seems to reflect some of the uncertainty that this potential imbalance could create.

Respondents appeared undecided about whether or not the 2015 Budget is likely to have a notable impact on their business over the next 12 months. While approximately one-third indicated it would, the same percentage of firms were unsure and 30 per cent said ‘no’.

Confidence in the overall business environment also remains mixed. Thirty per cent of those polled feel optimistic about the coming year, but 46 and 23 per cent believe conditions will remain the same or worsen respectively.

Nevertheless, the majority of organisations (58 per cent) predicted their profitability would increase, while just 14 per cent forecast a drop. Approximately 28 per cent expect to maintain the status quo.

Stephanie suggested the government’s failure to push through initiatives from last year’s Budget could still be weighing on the minds of some business leaders. However, the government’s proposals for the next 12 months are still viewed as a positive by many.

‘Members remain cautious about the 2015-16 Federal Budget, but they also recognise the tangible opportunities that can now complement existing business plans to nurture growth and increase cash flow,’ she explained.

‘While the opportunities will be different for each business, The Executive Connection is excited to see this year’s Budget translate into outcomes that have the potential to drive growth, hiring and innovation.’

Clearly, there are likely to be significant benefits for SMEs from the Budget over the next year. However, the rest of the business community will no doubt be waiting for more detailed information to emerge about how the government’s policies will directly affect their operations.