Are you sales or marketing?

We have always questioned if the title of sales and marketing could ever be rightly applied to one in the same individual. In today’s world it definitely seems unrealistic. In the main our reasoning is based on the fast-developing pace in the marketing theater and especially given the changes continually evolving in the digital and IT areas. Yet we still often see the joint title and, ever more so, at unit level. We have even come across its existence due to satisfying ego with job titles, which seems almost ludicrous. Not only is this misleading, but it also can be the cause of shortfalls in real performance levels. “Jack of all trades and master of none” immediately springs to mind.

The reality today is that at the specialist level both functions are needing strong specific and technical skill sets and experience. There is no question the real changes have been more dynamic in the marketing arena. The development of technology, digital tools, web science, social media platforms and many other products and tools have revolutionized the marketing of hotels. Each decade that passes seems to look like a very different landscape. On balance this is mainly for the good. To be a competent marketing individual today takes great ability, skills, continuous development and knowledge and above all the ability to manage change and be aware of new technology and both its potential and application.

With regard to this question we sometimes hear that direct sales, as a result of changes and influences in marketing, is secondary in hotels and not a main focus any longer. Nothing, in our opinion, could be further from the truth, and this false belief can cost revenue and market share.

Selling has also changed, and what worked in previous decades very often no longer holds true. We find it startling in Europe how sales and sales training seems to have been put on the back burner in many cases. As often is the case we have recently been involved in booking various hotels in Europe for meetings, and the overall sales performance was disappointing. Top issues were the long length of time to respond, if at all; not responding to questions; regular change of staff dealing with the same client; receiving standard template responses not addressing actual needs; and an unnecessarily aggressive attitude to contracting if indeed it got that far. Other observations in general included little sales effort, no closing skills and little display of imagination or a positive customer approach. Never was there an effort made to extract more business, which was always present. No great questions were ever asked.

We put all of this down to a real lack of appropriate focus and training on direct selling and sales skills. This of course is great for those operations that get the balance right. Those who engage in direct professional selling, backing up their marketing, will be far more successful in generating new business and gaining market share.

How do you balance these two vital areas to get it right and maximize revenues, and do you agree with the case to split the functions?