Sales or marketing??

I am often asked “what’s the difference between sales and marketing. Are they both the same thing”? To me it’s a tricky question to answer as sales is in fact a part of marketing. To help people understand I use the example of a knife to explain the difference.

A knife blade is made up of two parts: the spine of the blade and its cutting edge. Without a well-formed spine – that’s the metal in the middle and back – the cutting edge will not cut well. Now putting this into business terms the spine is marketing that needs to be well formed before the cutting edge or sales effort is applied. We also know that a blunt cutting edge makes for a useless knife so without both elements working together neither one can work effectively.

The basic definition of marketing is “The management of the process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer”. From this definition we can assume that the last part of the process – moving the product to the customer is the sales bit.

In this piece I am not trying to define the science of marketing or sales – that’s a much bigger subject. But what I do want to do is provide a brief overview of each and how the essentials should be incorporated in to your business.

Most of you will already have a  business in operation. With this in mind the starting point should be the current budget which will set out the objectives for the shop and or website in financial terms. This will probably detail the current mix of sales by product group. Next comes market research to understand the target customer. For most on-course shops that will be defined by the membership. For the off course shop it is likely to be those customers in a thirty to forty minute drive from the store. Consideration should be given to whether they are:

  • Younger or older
  • Leaders willing to try out new technologies or do they follow well established trends
  • Spenders or savers
  • Low or high handicap, frequent or infrequent golfers
  • Buyers of major or minor brands, etc. etc…

Answers to these questions will give you a better understanding of your customers. This will enable you to move to the next stage, which is product planning, in particular to consider the makeup by brand for each product group. Unfortunately, all too often buyers buy what they like with scant regard for their customer base – a big mistake. You will also need to consider pricing and possibly offer a choice of Good, Better and Best price points. Best will not necessarily be top brands but the top end of what your customer base will buy.

Now to the shop. What is going to be put in the window if there is one or close to the entrance if not that creates:

  • A positioning statement: up, middle or down market
  • Is seasonal
  • Encourages customers to come in and spend some time browsing

Next, how is the rest of the space going to be used, in particular the amount of room to be allocated to each product group. Does it bear any relationship to the budget and sales plan and what type of fixtures and layout are to be used? Do they all match the focus of your marketing campaign? Will your target customers feel comfortable with them?

The final element of the marketing programme is communications. Are you going to use advertising, direct mail shots, newsletters, social media and of course a website? Will they be offering loyalty discounts, buy one get on free, monthly specials…?

You will see that the first stage in marketing is very much a thinking process to make sure that all the elements will work well together and create the environment in which the sales team – the cutting edge – can take over effectively.

The first part of the selling process focuses on the staff. What is needed is a team that will be welcoming, put customers at ease and are capable of talking to them at their own level. For example, if your customers are older then maybe more mature sales personnel are required.

Next, they must not only be able to talk the talk relating to golf but also have an intimate knowledge of the products on offer. They need to know their features and more important their benefits they will offer their buyers.

Finally, sales techniques are all important too. They are very much the cutting edge and will include an understanding of:

  • Methods for classifying their customers into the groups discussed above
  • Seeking out customer needs rather than wants
  • Dealing with objections
  • Closing the sale
  • Ongoing customer service

So to sum up – marketing is the overall umbrella. It seeks to ensure that all the everyone is moving in the same direction. Understanding the customer base and targeting them with the:

  • Right product ranges
  • Correct price points
  • In a shop that customers feel at home in
  • With a well-trained sales team that customers have confidence in

will all go a long way to achieving the sales objectives.

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