What’s the difference between marketing and sales? Maybe you always thought your marketing is suppose to increase sales. But is that true?
It’s an interesting relationship between the two.
You can isolate them but if you only focus on marketing, what’s your end goal? And on the flip side, if you only focus on selling then will people actually know your business? Will you be left with cold selling or cold pitching?
Outbound marketing (aka cold selling)
My first job after grad school was in Business Development (code for Sales). I had to do several tasks around selling, like looking at a long spreadsheet of contacts to either cold-call or cold-email. And while I hated it at the time, it gave me a new perspective on the difference between the two (sales and marketing).
There’s often a reason why these are separate teams in business. They often involve a different approach or strategy.
Marketing is all about that long-term relationship and I love this analogy a coaching client once said, “I kind of think of them like a dating app. Marketing is all about swiping, reading the bios, seeing if there’s a connection, going on a second date. And the sales part is the actual…hook up.”
And because marketing is a long-term relationship, that means it may take several months to “see results” or see those sales that you’re anxiously expecting. Often bigger businesses don’t want to spend all that time on marketing so they go straight to outbound sales (i.e cold calling or cold emailing).
Interestingly, when we talk about stages in marketing it even has similar dating phrasing too— Attract, Engage, and Charm (if you Google the 3 stages of inbound methodology you’ll see something similar).
What are the 3 stages of inbound marketing?
I find that they are pretty self-explanatory but in identifying the stage that someone is in, we can begin to ask “Is this the time to offer my services? Or are we just getting to know each other?”
The first stage: Attract
People are noticing your business and brand! Developing different tools and techniques to attract people to your business is one of the first stages of inbound marketing (as a mindful marketer, I’m trying to find a better word for that but nothing is coming through. Maybe that’ll be a different post)
Here’s a shortlist of tools to attract. You don’t need to do all these, and it’s best if you focus on one or a few for a while to see what works.
- Social Media
- Podcasts (features)
- Lead magnets
I would say the attract phase isn’t necessarily that stage to “sell” to people. This is the start of your relationship.
But what do you think? What have you seen work for your business or personal brand? What do you usually do to attract people to your business? It could even be old-school methods like posting flyers at a coffee shop.
The second stage: Engage
The right person is now engaging with your business and brand!
With clients and in my own business this is probably the most challenging to keep up with. In a way, it’s easy to set up some systems in the attract stage but then actually engaging these people while continuing to offer something helpful can be tricky.
It’s natural for people to no longer need your services over time but if you never engaged them would they even stick around?
Here’s a short list in the engage phase.
- Email Automation
- Personalized calling or text messages
- Social Media (responding to comments, liking content, DM)
- Following up (with email, phone call, text, or in person)
- Having Conversation
- Quarterly check-ins
The third stage: Charm (on the cusp between sales and marketing)
The right person now bought from you, soon to buy or will buy at a later time!
In order for them to take that final leap with you, your business needs to “charm” them in some way.
Here’s a short list of examples to delight or charm them:
- Follow up email, calls, texts
- Be yourself
- Quality content
- Nurture the relationship
- Free events for people you’ve already engaged with
- Automation (emails, texts)
How to set yourself up for success in these stages
To start, explore some question that can serve as metrics or benchmarks to know if you’re on the right track or something has fallen off:
- What am I willing to do for this stage?
- How will I know my efforts are working in this stage?
- What feels challenging about this stage?
- What feels good about this stage?
- Can I identify a person/client/follower in this stage?
What happens in a real-life context
When I’m working with clients on their monthly strategy I’m usually working within the attract and engage phase by creating meaningful content, interviews, webinars or any other way to naturally build relationships.
When I’m stuck, I go back to thinking of how we function in day-to-day relationships. We don’t always think of our work or business in terms of relationships but it is. And everyone we interact with or are marketing to is a person — be human. Communicate like a person not a robot. You don’t need to start each follow up with “hope all is well!” The formalities get old. Perhaps that’s a hot take but I find that to be true and refreshing.
It’s ok if we’re not always producing or creating or converting or marketing.