Can marketing take the hard slog out of selling?

Marketing in a nutshellTheodore Levitt’s famous quote is that “Marketing exists to make selling redundant”. But too often I see a disconnection between the disciplines of marketing and sales. Either a business owner sees “marketing” as being producing brochures (or whatever) for a sales person to use or supposed marketing activity is undertaken with no view as to how it should lead to sales. Marketing is a strategic approach to make the process of selling much easier – and who wouldn’t want that?


Whilst some are born salespeople many small business owners really don’t like the process of selling. How does marketing help?

So often I see small business owners undertaking marketing campaigns and activities without clearly connecting them to the need to make a sale. Simply “doing some marketing” in this way will not magically make customers happen, though.

So what do the marketing academics have to say about the relationship between marketing and selling?

Theodore Levitt’s famous quote is that “Marketing exists to make selling redundant”.  Peter Drucker puts it only slightly differently, “There will always, one can assume, be a need for some selling. But the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.” 

On first reading, those statements hardly make the essential connection between marketing and achieving sales crystal clear. What they mean, though, is that marketing should be a means of making the sales process much easier by:

  • Developing an offering that has real value for your customer – something they want to buy rather than just something you fancy selling.
  • Creating a Value Proposition that makes it absolutely clear why they should buy from you and not a competitor.
  • Not only creating awareness of your business, products and services but demonstrating your credibility and expertise before the customer has even met you.

With this groundwork in place, your prospects are making a positive decision to consider you as a supplier and approaching you with the expectation that you can meet your needs. That’s got to make for an easier sale than so much foot-slogging, phone-bashing and door-knocking, hasn’t it?

So before we dismiss the marketing academics as a bit out of touch with the small business world, let’s look at how Philip Kotler describes marketing:

“Marketing is not the art of finding clever ways to dispose of what you make; marketing is the art of creating genuine consumer value.” 

It’s about adopting a marketing orientation for your business rather than one focused on your product or on the hard slog of selling. That’s got to be something any small business can achieve to help make selling much easier (if not actually redundant).

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