PRESENTATION by Maja Makovec Brenčič

Maja Makovec Brenčič is Associate Professor of International Marketing and International Business at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Ljubljana and Vice Dean for Development. She completes her extensive educational, scientific and research work by providing advisory and educational services to leading Slovenian companies. Ms. Brenčič is co-founder and president of the Student Business Conference, uniting students’ research work with practical company needs, president of the Slovenian Marketing Association, vice president of the Arbitration Committee with the Slovenian Advertising Chamber and actively involved in CRP projects on marketing in tourism.

In companies, we often hear sales personnel complaining that marketing has no idea what sales actually does, while the marketing department says that sales doesn’t fill them in on anything. Sometimes we find marketing and sales working together and in mutual understanding with customer-oriented goals and daily intertwined activities. Regardless of their name and their organisation, marketing and sales need to work hand in hand. In a recently conducted study in this field, one of the participants said very honestly: “I conduct sales during the day and marketing in the car and at night in bed when I’m thinking about strategic challenges. My first thought in the morning is how to translate the strategy I determined into an activity, in both sales and marketing.”

Even though sales and marketing might share the same goals, i.e. to be customer-oriented, to generate benefits for customers and also their satisfaction and loyalty, it happens too often that they lead separate lives. Their interactions are often not sufficiently intertwined or as related in content as they should be, while sales and marketing personnel often regard each other as though they were standing on opposite banks. Such banks should not be present in a market-oriented company (or institution) regardless of whether it is a product or a service company, as all processes must be directed towards generating value for the customer and other stakeholders. Even though, in its strategic importance and in the extent of content-oriented operation, marketing is broader than sales as it encompasses, in both strategy and tactics, areas of market research, product and service development, price policies, marketing methods and communications, it is often sales that is part of the fundamental process of establishing and maintaining customer relations. It is basically irrelevant what the individual parts of the process are called or how the marketing and sales relationships are organised within the company (perhaps it does not even need a special function or department) as long as it works on all the levels within the company and in relation to all the external stakeholders, especially customers. The same applies to the meetings industry. My own experience relates to obtaining the EMAC conference – the largest scientific conference in the field of marketing in Europe, which the Ljubljana Faculty of Economics will host in May 2011. If our marketing and corporate communication department and all on-field “sales" personnel – fellow academics, who were also designers of the conference’s marketing strategy and content, failed to work together, we would not have been able to prepare a convincing presentation and win the candidacy. The same applies to regular daily marketing. A synchronised and, above all, an efficient and coordinated presence of all of the company’s knowledge is the most important guideline in the relationship between marketing and sales. Development needs to be added, as the realisations from the market and the proactive management of the activity or company need to be transformed into actual ideas. However, these ideas do not emerge if sales and marketing do not transfer their knowledge and awareness from the market back to the company or institution. Only a well rounded loop actually works all the way through to the customers – with various offers and content, upgraded services and, above all, originality compared to the competition. As competition is growing in the meetings industry, let development – marketing – sales in co-dependant and co-creative interaction be the guiding principle for its competitive development, positioning and recognition in the international arena.