Marketing is important. People need to be reassured that there is a presence of the organisation in the market. SAP does this a lot. Every airport I go to, and I go to a lot, has a poster or two or three that says “Company X runs SAP.” Often the company is local to the country. But there is no freephone number on the poster. Nor is there a CD for sale in the airport shop. If this were Dior perfume or McDonalds, then this would be fine, but a complicated sale involves not only a lot of money, but a need for a high degree of interaction before the contractual commitment is established.
This is the essential difference between marketing and sales. Marketing is a dialogue of sorts, but generally happens at one remove, through some kind of abstract medium, like print or television. Sales is what happens when people talk, face to face, and have a relationship that includes the idea that one person is going to give money to the other person in order for them to make something happen. One person is selling, and the other is buying. In a complex sale, often many people are selling, and many are buying.
The amount of money that must be produced by the transaction must be sufficient that the person selling can make a living, and that implies either high margins, or big ticket items if the margin is smaller. In other words, marketing is what you do when you cannot afford to have a direct contact. This makes sense, because Procter and Gamble cannot afford to have someone standing next to the supermarket shelf trying to persuade you to buy their brand, and it would probably backfire anyway. Airbus, or IBM on the other hand, can afford it, and also need someone to make sure that the complex commercial agreements necessary are put in place.
Where this breaks down is the low cost sales operation. Telesales is a good example. (I did this once, for about 18 months, which I will talk about – good training ground in many, many ways.) Telesales people are cheap, so they can afford to have a barnful of them in the Midwest, and they can afford to annoy half of the world at mealtimes in order to get the 1% who do want to buy a subscription “Time”, or whatever is on offer. Low margin means cheap salespeople, and that means that what they are actually doing is reading a script in most cases. That’s gonna work. In most cases cold calling money would be better spent on other channels. But that’s a different story.