Marketing vs sales: a lesson from smaller businesses

What can larger businesses learn about marketing and sales from SMBs?

Marketing vs sales
Credit: Pixabay

Marketing and sales have sometimes been described as the “dark arts”. Partly because so much of these two subjects and being successful in them is based on ever changing experiences. Some successful and some not.

Marketing vs sales

Marketing gets you, the concept, the product, the service, to the customers door. Sales gets you through it. There are many “rules” which can be seen to work here. Some good, some not so good. But there are a number that have been successful for clients stretching back over the last thirty plus years. A few I have listed here.

  • The customer/ client will buy on perception. What they perceive is what will make their mind up
  • Price is important for that service/ product, however first and foremost is the person who is selling it. Are they believable? Trustworthy? Experienced? People buy from people with price coming a very close second place
  • Never believe that what you offer must be liked by the customer base purely because you think they should. Only offer what the customer base wants
  • Always, under promise and over deliver
  • Look at your competition, they will be doing something right, identify what it is and improve on it
  • If there is no current competition, run a market research, identifying your demographics, and then go with the results. You will be surprised by how many highly experienced business people do not, letting their hearts rule their heads
  • Be prepared to walk away from a new concept or an old one that has stopped working or has been outdated
  • On average, hit rates on sales drives will have 10% success rate
  • Nowadays, 90% of new sales are now achieved via the internet. A website is now the main required tool for both customer/ client perception and therefore new sales enquiries. Website updating should be a regular occurrence for all businesses, but few, especially larger businesses, do so
  • Word of mouth is still King. Get out there, the market will not meet you half way

SMBs vs bigger business

These ten rules may appear obvious amongst founders/ owners of small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), especially those at the smaller end. However, these rules often get lost in the fog of inertia and complacency amongst executives of larger businesses. I.e. ‘That marketing concept has worked for years it does not need to be either changed or reviewed now’.

When hosting events on marketing and sales attended by a mix of SMBs and larger businesses you would be surprised by two factors. The first is that few larger business managers can describe their business in one sentence. In terms of what it does and why people buy from it, whereas all SMB mangers can. The second is that less than 50% of larger business managers have their business cards with them, whereas all SMB managers do.

Lesson for management

The lesson being that when it comes to marketing vs sales SMBs are the keener to learn and develop, whereas larger concerns tend to be both hesitant and complacent. A very dangerous double act. To avoid this situation, the senior management of larger businesses must always be on the lookout for new ideas, concepts and business practices. Based on what has worked very recently, rather than a few years ago.

I find that the majority of clients have a mental comfort zone of where the turnover of their business should be. If they are lucky enough to have reached it, they then avoid the small steps required to easily go further. They prefer instead to remain in their comfort zone. Not always, obviously, but you would be surprised by how many do.


To learn how we can help you grow your business with the right combination of marketing and sales:

Core and custom services


Julian Blick

View posts by Julian Blick
Julian delivers venture support to business startups and small & mid-sized businesses (SMBs), across all sectors. He also advises the P27 Board. His expertise: business planning, marketing, corporate recovery, sales improvement, accounting systems, strategic planning, business analysis, project finance, corporate recovery, change management, MBOs and MBIs. Julian has over 36 years of experience as an award-winning business advisor. He is accredited by SFEDI and an Associate member of the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs.
Scroll to top