In any marketing plan, there is a clear relationship between marketing promotion and sales. Promotion incorporates not only sales, but also advertising, online marketing, direct marketing and public relations to achieve a company’s communication objectives. Sales uses the marketing tools that the promotion team develops to educate the customer and reinforce the company’s brand and value in an interpersonal setting.
Marketing promotion communication elements--advertising, direct marketing, sales promotion, public relations and online marketing--create product value and encourage consumers to buy a company’s product. Sales or personal selling incorporates cold-calling, door-to-door selling, and face-to-face interaction with the customer.
Though promotion and sales are interrelated in the marketing process, the two elements use different skills in order to achieve the same goal: increase revenue. Sales is just one part of the promotional mix, where marketing promotion incorporates sales, as well as all of the marketing communication channels used to promote goods and services. Because a salesperson speaks with the customer directly, he is responsible for closing deals and signing the contracts, which directly translates into revenue. In contrast, promotions are responsible for creating the marketing materials--product brochures, website blogs, press releases, advertisements and customer surveys--that collect information from prospects that is forwarded to sales associates for follow-up and further communication.
Sales associates communicate with prospects and clients in person and can gauge a customer’s body language, tone or response during a sales pitch. If the sales associate observes the customer backing away from a purchase, he can quickly adapt and tailor his message to fit the customer’s needs. On the other hand, promotion uses multiple communication vehicles to send out messages to a much larger audience. For instance, the promotion department can communicate with customers instantaneously by broadcasting a commercial viewed by millions of people or publish an article touting a product's benefits in a widely circulated newspaper.
Sales associates usually pitch products and services to prospects who are somewhat familiar or already interested in buying the company’s products. However, promotional tools, such as advertising and direct marketing, communicate to customers, prospects and the general public. The target audience for the marketing promotion department is much larger than the vetted, group of prospects that comprises a sales associate’s audience.
According to Philip Kotler, a Northwestern University international marketing professor, and Gary Armstrong. a University of North Carolina professor, selling acts as the “interpersonal arm” of marketing promotion and is more effective than advertising, direct marketing or public relations in complicated sales scenarios. In companies such as Xerox and DuPont, sales efforts play an instrumental role in selling products and serve as the human bridge between a company and its customers. In other companies such as Proctor & Gamble, which sell through intermediaries and rely heavily on marketing promotion to sell products, customers almost never meet sales associates or even know of their existence.