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Posted: April 05, 2011

Tough love: if you can’t sell, you can’t succeed

Without sales, marketing and ads don't do diddly

Liz Wendling

Many business owners have a problematic and fuzzy view of the relationship between advertising, marketing and selling. Are they really different? Don't they all do much the same thing?

Yes, they are different, and no, they absolutely do not all do the same thing. Done well, using all three with precision creates thriving, moneymaking businesses. Done poorly, you will not accomplish much of anything, except waste a lot of money, time, effort and emotion. The three functions must work synergistically, not independently, to generate sales, and sales are the only way to keep your business in business.

All the marketing and advertising in the world will not yield results if your potential customers are not buying what you're selling. Just because you build it does not mean they will come. They may arrive but not buy. If this is happening to you, it is a giant red flag that one of the wheels has fallen off. If your potential customers are not buying, it is not their fault; it is yours, and it is likely a result of the way you sell. Marketing and advertising are important but the ability to engage potential customers and close the sale is the only way to stay in business.

I see so many business owners who put thousands of dollars into marketing and advertising and not one red cent into the most critical area that makes all that possible. Sales! Yes, sales. For your marketing and advertising efforts to be considered a success, someone has to actually hand you money through a closed sale. Not hearing this, not believing this and not doing something about this will keep your business exactly where it is.

I recently began working with a company that had incredible potential to be a thriving business and appeared to be set up for an influx of customers. They did it all: networked, advertised, conducted marketing activities and purchased radio spots. The phone rang, customers wanted information, they seemed interested and eager to buy but they never did.

The company heard lots of reasons - "I need to think about it," "I don't have the money," and "I will check and get back to you." Guess what? Very few did. The one thing the company did not spend a penny on was learning how to sell its products and services. That big mistake cost it more than $10,000, with nothing to show for it.

Every day I listen to business owners as they tell me that there is no budget set aside for sales training. Not a huge surprise. No one ever has a dedicated budget for sales training. Many choose instead to put that money into the passive part of the business. It is easy to design an ad, talk about your product on the radio, send out a coupon or do a free consultation; the hard part is doing the work to understand the sales process and what it takes for someone to say "yes."

Now for some tough love and the bottom line. If you cannot sell, you cannot and will not grow your business. It has nothing to do with what you sell; it has everything to do with how you sell. You are sending your potential customers to your competition! You might blame the customer and you will most likely blame the economy, but neither is ever really at fault.

Think about it. Does it make sense to pump money into marketing and advertising but nothing into learning how to sell? Simply exposing your message to thousands or millions of people does not guarantee success. Investing in sales coaching and sales training does that. It will be the best money you ever spend on your business. Remember, it's not what you sell, it's how you sell.

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Liz Wendling is the president of Insight Business Consultants, a nationally recognized business consultant, sales strategist and emotional intelligence coach. Liz is driven by her passion for business and generating results for her clients. Liz understands the challenges that business owners are facing building a business and selling their professional services in today's market.

Liz shows clients how to tap into and use their innate strength, power and confidence to develop highly successful businesses. She teaches them to create effective, dynamic and fluid client conversations that turn interested prospects into invested clients who keep coming back.

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Readers Respond

Good Article, Thanks Liz By Trish on 2011 04 05
Tough love is valuable for all of us. As a friend reminds me, it you are not selling, you are overheard. Overhead is being eliminated by companies. Good article. By George Tyler on 2011 04 05
Ouch, the truth hurts but I needed to hear it. I agree with the one response that sometimes the problem lies in the person in the mirror. Much of my hard earned money has been wasted on ads and marketing and nothing on my sales skills. Not for long. Love your articles! By steven on 2011 04 05
Great article and it hits it right on the head. As a media sales person, I hear many of my clients claim than "your station didn't work for us." After some investigation, I usually find that people did actually call/inquire which was the purpose of the advertising I sold. It was the company's sales people that couldn't close the deal that was the problem. But as it is with many businesses, the owners are blaming the messengers and are not looking in the mirror at themselves. By Jeff on 2011 04 05
Spot on. I've been in public relations for 30 years and believe in its power thoroughly. There is nothing like the implied third party endorsement of a newspaper article, a magazine feature or a TV guest appearance to turn people's heads and make them interested in your product or service. And sometimes that alone is enough as when Oprah says "I really like this" about your product or service. (And certainly people buy things off the Internet without the influence of a trained sales person.) But as Liz points out, taking the credibility of news coverage into a sales call and nailing the close with it is hitting on all cylinders and the optimum situation. By Stephen Koenigsberg on 2011 04 05
Liz, thanks again for the reminder that I cant keep writing big checks to advertising agencies when my people are having trouble closing. I guess its time for me to give you a call. By Jennifer on 2011 04 05
You're on the mark, Liz, as always! Creating awareness with advertising, telling the story with PR, connecting the need with sales, backing up the brand with good quality and service. It's a beautiful synergy when all systems are in place. By Pat Smith on 2011 04 05

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