Growing a business is a multi-layered undertaking rife with ongoing decisions that may have little to do with the inspiration behind your business idea. Sales and marketing are both foundational layers for a business's growth.
No business can be successful without both targeted approaches to generating revenue. But from the start, they require proper care and attention. Business growth can grow stagnant with slow marketing and sales. Even if you have a fantastic business idea, low sales and marketing plans can hold you back from success.
While it is easy to lump sales and marketing together in the planning process, they are both distinct business functions requiring attention and different approaches. A successful strategy begins with understanding the two and developing sales and marketing plans to support one another. Once you know them, you can integrate tools and marketing or even outsource the process to an expert agency.
The marketing plan is a communication tool to take your ideas and vision from your head to the customer's cart. It lays out four essential elements of a product: the price, the market, and where to find it. This stage is also what marketers call the 4Ps of Marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.
As you make this plan, you will set goals, home in on the marketing channel, and develop a marketing campaign. It requires teamwork and collaboration. Marketing goals are typically big picture and promote the overall brand, service, product, and company. The marketing team will price the product and market them in a way to bring in customers.
The sales plan focuses on the sales process — namely, the target market, team structure, and goals. A sales plan will outline tools and resources to hit the goals.
Sales goals are quantitative, centering on sales volume and quotas. You can measure these goals and re-evaluate them on a month-to-month basis. Understanding the sales targets will help managers set monthly sales goals for the individuals, teams, and departments responsible for ensuring sales conversion.
You can think of sales and marketing plans as a two-pronged approach. Both elements are necessary to start the conversation and close the deal with each customer seeking your product or service.
Marketing is what brings a client to the door (or the website). It entices people to learn more about your company, services, or products and gives them essential information about your business. Data can be anything from company values to the business model.
Sales channels operate to reinforce the company's offerings and convert curious visitors into committed customers. It intertwines with marketing to reflect company values and communicate with clients.
At this point, you may be wondering, “Why do I need a marketing plan" or "Why do I need a sales plan?” The fact is that you need both.
A marketing plan is how you make your product or service appealing to potential customers. Without a marketing plan, you won't be able to achieve nearly enough visibility. Depending on how saturated your market is, this low visibility could tank your operation.
With a sales plan, you can create a targeted approach to driving profits. Without a sales plan, you leave yourself vulnerable to profit loss. The production value, overhead costs, and other aspects of your product or service may not be worthwhile, but you won't know it until you have a sales plan to measure your profit and track your progress.
Stagnant sales also can be an indicator of a flawed marketing plan. It is easy to see how they work in conjunction.
Sales and marketing are two halves of a whole and should not operate in separate universes. You want just the right balance of both to have harmony, and to do so, you need plans that align the two areas.
These plans should share the common goal of attracting prospective customers and converting them into paying customers. At the end of the process is the essential nexus of any business plan: revenue generation.
Both your sales and marketing teams should share their goals and provide regular updates on progress. A common theme between both sales and marketing plans are the target markets, so this piece should align. The team can identify the target market or customer profile and use a standard definition or vision in their work.
Sharing goals and common themes will ensure each team has a solid and common foundation. It also will provide a reference for measuring marketing and sales performance.
Harmony between sales and marketing can lead to enhanced customer attraction and revenue generation.
When done right, both sales and marketing will create returning customers and a loyal base for business growth. Once you know how to differentiate the plans, you will need to capitalise on available resources for each type.
Just like the goals, some of these resources can overlap. For example, social media is a tool both sales and marketing can tap into it. Marketers can use it to promote content. Your sales team can use it to measure how many people buy through social media ads and your profile. When both groups work together, there can be harmony in the shared use and overlapping goals.
Some tools for each type of plan include:
Perhaps you are reading this and questioning where you will find time to create two different but cohesive plans. Maybe you have limited knowledge on the resources listed here and are inwardly groaning at the knowledge needed for effective plan creation. This part is where you ask yourself another question: Which is better for sales and marketing, in-house or outsource?
The answer depends on your experience, comfort level, knowledge base, and business needs.
Let's go through the pros and cons of each.
When you turn to a third-party agency to create your sales and marketing plans or to provide these services for you, you can benefit from:
On the flip side, some drawbacks of outsourcing include:
When you operate a sales and marketing team in-house, you have a different set of benefits:
Just like with outsourcing, there are some drawbacks to the in-house approach:
When deciding between in-house and outsourcing, know it is about what is best for your business. Consider integrating sales and marketing plans and reevaluate as necessary. You want to invest in these plans, so your brand sees excellent returns. The right choice is the one that provides focus on the essential functions: growing and operating a profitable business.