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Digital Marketing and Sales – Lines are Blurring

illustration of woman carrying a laptop, juggling multiple social media buttons in air

As part Digital Marketing World, I get these two questions very often," I am a sales person, I understand the customer when one-on-one! it seems online is all about marketing and customers are virtual?" and the second one, " how & why do I account for sales? I am a marketing person! I can build brands, create buzz around the brand by creating wonderful & amazing art of storytelling! Now I am being asked about Sales? That’s not fair?" Well well well! Let’s understand both marketing and sales in digital world to clear this confusion!

Need vs Problem: Traditional Marketing is all about Institution and Process of Communication that creates perceived value for customers & clients where customer is King and communication is to create need for him with the aim to satisfy his needs by creating products and services offered.

Digital Marketing is about understanding the customers problem by interacting with them virtually, providing value by offering them solution thru products and services offered. Digital Media is all about one-to-one customised communication! Hold On! One-on-one Customised communication, isn’t that a sales Job? Yes, it is and hence I say the lines are blurring between Marketing and Sales in digital World!

Art Only vs Art + Science: Traditional marketing is always considered as art although there are theories which provide effective support to Marketing effort (4Ps), there is hardly any science behind it! (pls educate me if any)

Digital Marketing is both, Art & Science! There is so much data available in digital space about the customer behaviour, his consumption pattern, his buying habits, his brand and style preferences, his financial and economic status etc. etc., that it needs technology to aggregate, analyse and draw inferences from such a huge pile. However it is also extremely important to understand the customer behaviour through marketer’s own experience (the Art) and at the same time decode all those data points, applying Scientifically Developed Data Analytical tools (The Science) to gain deeper knowledge.  Hey once again, isn’t that sales as traditionally, we, in sales use to do? Look at various data points available about the customer, analyse them, draw conclusion, make a strategy and then move to close the sale by engaging one-on-one with them! Well yes and again it seems that in Digital World Lines are blurring!

One-to-many vs One-on-one: Traditional Marketing uses traditional media to create one-to-many communication that would address one and all without really knowing how much has it touched or inspired them or influenced the consumer.

Digital Marketing is all about Targeting and measuring the effort by being part of their buying journey and influencing their decision by providing optimised solutions. Again, due to large amount of data being made available by the Digital Medium, consumer behaviour and their decision-making can be tracked and influenced! Which means a marketer need to know whom, where, when, what and who, to effectively interact with the customer! Once again this is another form of selling! Effective sales strategy always was about the customers and those 5W!

Perception vs Big Data: Product Management is one of the most important functions of Marketing! The reason Product Management was considered as Marketing Job is probably because Product Managers were perceived to be understanding and identifying the consumer needs, “creating products” to satisfy those “perceived needs” and finally collaborating with Marcom guys to create effective campaign to satisfy the “perceived need”!

In digital world, it is very different as it is more scientifically done as it is completely Big data driven. This helps build products and services that are very customer focused and customised. The Product Management in digital world is more driven by science then art! Based on the data available, new products are created or existing products are tweaked to suite the customers, communication is customised, their feedback is tracked in real time and that is the basis to create new versions/products. Once again, all these seems to be sales job in traditional world where one interacts with the customers, collects data, provides feedback and help create new products and services! Now as a Product Manager in digital world you just do all that as Marketing person! So can a sales guy do this better in Digital World! Yes, May be!

Conclusion: Marketing people have to just add a sales attitude to their marketing stills where they think about customers and not consumers (‘Customers’ are those who are existing customers and are contemplating buying and ‘consumers’ are who may look like they may buy based on their demographic profile), learn more science and stay close to the customers. On the other hand Sales guys can now take this opportunity, with some intense training off-course , to convert themselves in digital marketing people as they are more interactive, can handle and read into customer data thus customer physic more easily  and can connect it to the sell, manage and build products and services! Hey I just cleared the confusion! Marketing and sales are merging in digital world! All that needed to be done is

  1. Teach Selling and Certain Science to Marketing People
  2. Teach Soft Skills of Marketing to Sales People

I know that I have touched upon a very sensitive subject, but trust me, unless you take bull by the horn, you will not know how to tame him, Hence, to me it looks like that the Digital Marketing and Online Sales have very thin line between them as the KRAs are almost similar! Having said that, neither of them are a threat to each other if and only if their focal point is customers & their pain points, they are part of customers decision making journey by providing customised solution as well as track their response in real-time. Also, the space has just opened up and there is dearth of talent! So, it is time to hone your skills!

Disclaimer: I may be sounding harsh on Marketing guys but that is not the intention. All I am trying to point out is that in digital media, staying close to customers and tracking their behaviour needs understanding of science behind it! Traditional media is going to stay as far as we embrace materialistic world and it shall have its importance in that world! However, if you switch to digital marketing, approach it by sales attitude and learn the science behind it as that puts real customer in forefront!