"To be or not to be, here is the dilemma! What is more lifted for the spirit: to suffer the blows of insulting fortune, or to take up arms against a pool of calamities and, facing them, end them? Die ... sleep; no more!" (Hamlet)
Several centuries after this play was written by William Shakespeare, this famous parliament, which is the trigger from which Prince Hamlet conceives his idea of revenge, has the courage to illustrate the need for a strategic design to face the successful development of a company (in its sense of undertaking).
Namely, the essential elements that arise in this strategy would be the following: There is a Supreme goal declared, that it is to do justice for the death of his late father, King Hamlet, at the hands of his uncle Claudio who marries his mother; a Strategy selected for this: impersonate to avoid suspicions about his intentions and a Tactic employee who consisted of hiring a group of comedians to trigger in their representations a series of memories and associations that made the culprit betray.
That is why I allow myself to return to that strategic approach to apply it to the business world (in its meaning of mercantile or industrial society) where, in the common case of supreme goalit would turn out to be maintaining and growing in the market, strategy applying a customer-oriented approach to it and, tactic, grow sales.
Precisely, based on this conception, the current dilemma in business practice between the strategic and the tactical is presented, in other words, what is essential, marketing or sales?
Above all, it must be specified that identifying marketing and sales with the same meaning not only implies a semantic error, but the confusion between what is important and what is urgent; between the long and short term, as well as the ignorance of marketing, as a modern management approach in which sales constitute only a moment, as shown in Table 1.
The experience of the author of this work as manager trainer and business consultant, indicates that in Cuban management practice related to the problems addressed by the job, the urgent, that is, the concern for sales, absorbs what is important, is tell marketing, on the basis of which lies, in my opinion, the ignorance that marketing is, above all, a focus on the customer and hence a managerial attitude that organizes and regulates all the actions of the company, and Only later does it constitute a set of techniques and procedures that allow achieving market share and positioning.
On the other hand, whether or not marketing is done, there are always sales, this is one reason why it is a more deeply rooted activity in business practice that can be perceived as the immediate end of the company, when the true objective of the company is to achieve the permanence and growth of that company in the market, through the loyalty of the clientele to achieve stable and continuous sales over time.
Guarantees present income, as a result of charges for commercial transactions carried out.
It ensures the subsistence and maintenance of the current obligations of the company.
It represents the urgent, since it refers to the day to day, to allow an adequate cash flow.
It constitutes a short-term approach to the company's results.
It ensures the direction in which the resources obtained will be used to allow the present and future permanence of the company in the market.
It targets future development by determining the most appropriate pathways for growth.
It is the important thing, since it refers to the maintenance and growth of the company in the market.
It is an approach that ensures the results of the company in the long term.
Sometimes I share with my students the very unorthodox approaches that the worst thing that can happen to a Cuban company not very seasoned in these marketing matters is to create a Marketing Department, since from that moment on marketing becomes a more function of the company and not an approach to business work; o Decide with great enthusiasm (and undoubtedly good intentions) to send all sellers to be trained in Sales Techniques, which is helping to create a conflict in the business culture.
That is why it is therefore an important prerequisite for a company to function properly that there is a real commitment from the company's top management to its customers; Only then could that Marketing Department work on the strategic projection and elaboration of the policies and plans that allow the corporate strategy formed by senior management to be executed, providing the results expected of it in terms of the place that the company occupies. in the market.
For its part, the Sales Department, as the "front line" would ensure with its "army" that each sale becomes an important pillar, not only because it provides the company's income in the present but also because it creates the conditions of loyalty of the clientele that ensures stable sales in the future and therefore the stable flow of that income.
It is not accidental then, but totally intentional that in the Bases for Business Improvement it is established as one of the four conditions for a company to begin the process of Improvement, the existence of a market, since this is the one that ensures the justification , not only economic but social of the company: the existence of a set of potential consumers with needs and desires that could be satisfied with the company's offer, which ensures a level of sales that allows not only its reproduction, but growth.
Therefore there are two well defined fields for each activity, the marketing and the sales:
Thus, Marketing is aimed at identifying and taking advantage of market opportunities, answering the following questions:
§ What or which are the target markets that the company is going to target?
§ What requirements does that market have and what do you expect?
§ What offer (marketing mix) conceive in correspondence with those needs and desires?
§ With what positioning to locate this offer in the market and what communication actions to carry out then with that purpose?
§ What Marketing Information System to design to keep the company constantly informed about potential customers, the satisfaction of their current customers, the changes that occur in the market and competition, as well as in the environment, in order to act in consecuense?
And with that information, take the strategic referring to target markets, supply, positioning and develops the policies that will serve as a guide for the work of the entire company, which will allow it to consolidate itself as an organization oriented to its clients, with a solid image in the market.
Sales, based on the policies defined by the marketing area, develop their work of attracting customers for the company's portfolio, seeking the answer to the following questions:
§ What exactly is the purchasing behavior and characteristics of the clients that make up the selected target market?
§ What customers could be lost, without risk to the company?
§ How to negotiate in the most appropriate way to establish a stable relationship with customers?
§ How to organize deliveries to fulfill the commitments made with customers under the established conditions?
§ How to ensure timely collection that allows the necessary cash flow in the company?
§ What kind of follow-up to provide customers to contribute to their loyalty and generate future sales?
The answer to these questions guides the action of the sellers, beyond the simple action of taking orders or dispatching products, as true problem solvers, so that their customers can enjoy the benefits they hope to obtain from the purchase of the product or service. and stay true to the company.
Consequently, our problem does not really lie in the dilemma between the two spheres of action, but in the ability to combine both aspects, in such a way that they allow the success of the company, through the correct formulation of Marketing objectives, strategies and policies. that can guide the operational actions of the sales force in the market.
In this combination of non-exclusive aspects, Marketing and Sales, the first is the basis that ensures the economic and commercial feasibility of the second and, on the other hand, the second is the support that allows the financing of the first to ensure the continuity of the company.
Consequently, the strategy cannot be that of Hamlet, appealing to madness, since what it is about is to anticipate the future and not escape from it, to build it at our convenience; Neither our tactic can rest on third parties, since it is the company itself that is responsible for producing the changes that take it to the future projected in its vision.
Therefore, without offending the theater players, I allow myself to modify the imaginary representation with which we began, with another montage, in which the role of Prince Hamlet could be replaced by that of a modern businessman who, not with a skull in his hand but with a Insights situation of your company in the market and in front of its Marketing and Sales teams, you could request them in the following way:
"Marketing or sales, here is the problem! What is successful for the company: blindly suffer the blows of the environment, or take action against their threats and, facing them in advance, end them? Sell ... serve; no more?"
What would be your response if you were participating in that meeting? Does it add to my position?
Article published by Dr. Luis Barreiro Pousa  in the Espacio Magazine (Cuba) No. 7 / January-April 2002 pp. 28-29