Sales vs. Marketing: Which Is More Important?

As an entrepreneur, especially if you’re in a startup, you get all caught up on how things could be with operations, staff, and this and that. Meanwhile, you’re not making any money. You need to focus on sales, and you need to focus on marketing. But the question is when you’re in a startup, which one is more important?

The answer, of course, is both. It’s always both when what you really need is revenue, and the only way to get revenue is to get customers. So should you focus on sales? Should you focus on marketing? It 100% depends on the type of business you want to build and the areas that you’re struggling the most. Most entrepreneurs fall into the camp that they’re most comfortable with. If you’re really great at marketing (meaning you’re generating leads, generating interest, and having people hit your site), you’re going to be able to crush it in that department, but you’re going to waste all of your money and all of your efforts if you don’t have sales.

If you’re building up a sales team, or you’re really great on the phone or in front of people, but then you’re not doing a great job on the marketing side of things, you’re not living up to your full potential. This is something that almost all entrepreneurs and business owners overlook: the importance of both of these areas.

You might say, “I’m an amazing salesperson when I’m across from someone. The problem is, I don’t have enough meetings. I’m not spending enough time speaking to people. The top of my funnel and the top of my lead generation just isn’t enough. If people come to me, I’m going to crush it. I’m going to do an amazing job at it because I’m great at sales, but my marketing isn’t doing what it needs to do.”

Then there’s a whole other group of people. Maybe you love being on social media, you have great ads, you’re spending money on AdWords or on Facebook, you’re generating the leads, and you have a great website. However, you somehow expect that every sale will come without having to have the conversation, or perhaps you don’t want to share your phone number or make things easy for people. You just want sales to just kind of happen. You have an amazing lead generation campaign and system, but you’re not closing the deals, in which case you’re wasting potential and money.

You can do so much better if you focus on both areas in your business. You might ask, “Where should I start? I have marketing on this side and sales on the other side. I can’t do both. I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough skill sets. How do I win in both of these areas?”

For me, I’m a linear thinker. I start at the top and work my way down. Could you build up sales without any marketing? Sure, but then people are sitting on their hands. I would start with marketing. I would start with building a brand and finding the advertising channels and tactics and methods that work to drive interest. Once they start to hit our site, I would work at fixing conversion. That way, more people are contacting us or moving forward through the sales funnel.

Then if we needed a sales tool, like a demo or a meeting, I would work on developing those tools. Then in the meeting or on the phone speaking to the rep, I would start to work on creating better sales structures and sales scripts. You can hire better salespeople if you can’t do it yourself. I would start at the top and work my way down every single step, increasing conversions and making sure that I’m not wasting money and time.

For me, I would follow a more traditional funnel. I’d fix the advertising and marketing, the landing pages in the conversions, the contract, the onboarding process, the customer service, etc. That’s what I would do. But you have to ask yourself, “What do I suck at?” Really? What are the things you’re crushing, and what are the things you suck at? If you’re great at sales, then fix your marketing. If you’re great at marketing, start to work through this process the way that I’ve suggested. However, you can build a lasting business without both. You can go straight from marketing to customer service.

If you’re in e-commerce, there’s always going to be a sales methodology there. There’s no getting around that. Even if you don’t want to do any marketing at all and you want to build a zero marketing business only through customer service and word of mouth and repeat clients, there’s still marketing in there, right? You’re doing your sales and customer service, but there’s still going to be an element of marketing there, which is the brand-building side of things. There’s just no getting around this, and that is actually the takeaway from this. When I started by asking, “Which is more important, sales or marketing?” The answer is both. The answer is always both.

In your startup business, you’re going to be stretched thin. So what you need to do is not just chase the area that you’re most comfortable in. You can’t just go to the thing that you’re naturally the best at and ignore everything else. You need to put the time, energy, and money to be able to build up those other things that you’re not great at. It’s going to take one of those things — your time, your focus, or your money.

Your business deserves experts and a high level of delivery at every single step, not only for your business but for your customers as well. So look at your business — the things that you crush and the things that you’re not so great at. If you’re like me, start at the top of the process and work through every single step and get better at it all the way from the first point of contact right through to repeat customers because, guess what, every aspect of your business is sales and marketing all wrapped into one. The answer is both.