Sales, business development and marketing: Where are you on the spectrum (if anywhere)?

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This posting may take you in a strange path.  It is not the “logical” approach but it is the way I think many people in business think.

Nowhere.  No sales.  No marketing.  Nothing.

You are 100 per cent passive about finding and maintaining new business.  Perhaps you “rely” on word-of-mouth referrals, and the referrals arrive because, well, you provide the services cheaply or you have the fortune to have no competition (like a monopoly).  You can’t figure out why people bother with all the marketing stuff as you think it is utterly unnecessary and totally expensive.  And of course, from your perspective, you are 100 per cent correct.

Sales, sales, sales.

You obtain business by selling — assertively.  Think “we don’t take ‘no’ for an answer”, plaid jackets, timeshares, aggressive canvassing and follow-up to even the weakest lead until you are blue in the face (and the person at the other end wishes to sue you for harassment.)  Sure, this type of selling can work in some cases — and some salesmanship is certainly justified in almost any endeavour.  But does it really build loyalty and quality in your relationships?

Marketing, marketing, marketing.

You get your logos right, you spend piles of money on advertising, you even do great community service and outreach — but what happens to the leads, if any, when you receive them.  Nothing.  Nada.  They go to the into the garbage, along with your overblown marketing budget.

The integrated approach (all of the above).

In this model, it seems perhaps to your clients that you are practicing the first model.  People are choosing to do business with you because they are comfortable with your reputation and no one is pushing them to buy.  Well, actually, your reps are working to encourage decision-making but because they have enough leads and interest, they can pass on tire kickers and persistently obnoxious clients who don’t meet their needs.  The external marketing is well integrated with the internal culture of your business and the natural linkage between the initial inquiry and the final result — clients who are happy enough to spread positive word-of-mouth about your business — is great enough that you don’t need to worry about where your business is heading.

Do many architectural, engineering and construction businesses truly achieve this integrated approach?  Not many, I’m afraid.  But the irony is that if you are practicing the first “do nothing” approach and achieving success in business, the integrated approach can be surprisingly inexpensive and easy to justify — as your margins, client satisfaction and business volume will all increase.  In other words, if you are doing nothing and succeeding, you probably will do exceptionally well if you put the marketing pieces together even though, on the surface, you don’t need to bother.

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