Sales or Marketing: Which comes first?

Ah the eternal debate rages on…

Chicken or Egg…
Sales or Marketing…
Which one comes first?

Everyone has an opinion and every opinion can be argued relatively effectively.
So for what it’s worth, here’s my thoughts and argument…

I believe SALES comes first…

I meet many new start-ups every year faced with the same dilemma. Do I get my marketing sorted or do I go out and sell myself first?

The challenge is, if you have no sales and market experience to prove that your proposition is valued and required by your audience then how can you be so sure that you’re investing the right time, money and energy into the development of your marketing communications?

Here’s what I typically suggest:

  • Trust your gut instincts and go to market with the proposition you would like to sell
    If you have any doubts about the value of your proposition, approach 10 of your best contacts to give you some feedback and follow their advice instead.
  • Pick a route to market (i.e. networking, social media, telesales, etc) and start pitching your proposition to your audience.
  • Be confident about your pitch (confidence is half the battle!), and get out there and meet some people.
  • Take an interest in other people’s needs and start creating your own opportunities, regardless of how big or small.
  • Consider your options and submit a proposal, with a price that you’re happy to do the work and give yourself room to negotiate.
  • Be receptive to feedback and negotiation, and simply use the process as an opportunity to better understand ‘what clients really want?’ and ‘what service/value you’re prepared to offer that clients really need?’
  • Whether you win or lose the opportunity, document all feedback and start to refine your proposition.

With sales you’re in business. Business will give you income, confidence, customers, opportunities to learn and market insights. Everything else will follow.

If you commit to undertake this process for a minimum of 6 months (preferably a year), you’ll learn all about the following:

  • The market place
  • The value really sought by customers
  • How and where to identify customers with real needs
  • What value customers really seek and what they’re prepared to pay for it
  • How to better position your proposition to customers with real needs (to ensure they take better notice of you!)
  • And some valuable relationships with folks who will happily provide you with objective feedback and insights.

All these insights will prove invaluable in shaping and refining your proposition, and provide you with all the ammunition to build a compelling suite of marketing communications tools, including your website, blog, newsletters, business card, proposals, etc.

Add a suite of compelling marketing communications to the sales foundation you would have already established and you’ll turbo charge your opportunity to succeed!

Whereas if you try to build a suite of compelling marketing communications BEFORE you’ve learnt your sales lessons, you’ll simply be taking a wild stab in the dark and potentially waste a huge deal of effort, time and money!

But that’s just my humble opinion… I’m sure you have your own and I’d love to hear it…