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There is often a perception that marketing doesn’t work, is too expensive, or takes too long to show results, which leads to a preference for direct selling approaches. It becomes a question of “marketing versus sales” instead of “marketing and sales” – a comparison of frustration rather than fact.

In reality, there is no such thing as sales or marketing. The importance of combining marketing and sales is illustrated by the purchase funnel, which shows how the two functions are part of a single customer journey.

Getting your product out the door and into the customer’s hands is continuous. As a business looking to grow, you need to efficiently bridge the gap between what you offer and what the customer wants. Relying simply on direct selling techniques is rarely the most efficient way, despite feeling like the most direct.

The optimal way to attract new business is to start broad and get progressively more focused, reflecting how a prospective customer would start by gathering information, evaluating options, and finally making a purchase decision. The beginning “wide” part is where marketing plays a vital role in ensuring the highest number of people are aware of your offering, whilst the narrow part of the funnel is the sales process, where personal interaction is often required.

Don’t let desperation win

Despite the logic of adopting a full-funnel approach, many entrepreneurs neglect marketing in favour of sales-only activities. This is understandable since a new business needs nothing more than revenue. However, although investing in sales activities seems to address the problem more directly, it is not the most efficient.

Interestingly, marketing communications complement a sales-based approach almost perfectly. Where sales visits are time-intensive, marketing communications is money intensive. Where one “talks to many”, the other is “one-on-one”. Marketing can be active whilst you are asleep, whilst sales needs you to be in the room.

Build a two-stroke revenue engine

A business must use both marketing and sales to run at full steam. It can’t merely rely on one or the other. You need marketing (wide) and sales (narrow). This interconnection is what many small and medium-sized companies miss, hurting their growth.

The sales team is often the closest to the customer and needs to use its position to gather insights and that can inform marketing campaigns that, in turn, deliver new leads to the sales team – the motion of a two-stroke engine.

The choice between marketing and sales is false and hampers many entrepreneurial businesses. There’s no “choice” here. You need both to move the growth needle for your company.