Business is starting to improve, finally. Your instincts are telling you it's time to reach out for new business, add staff, start getting your name out there again.

Question: Where is “There?" More to the point, how do you get there and who is going to take you?

For years you were told you have to have a website. After complaining about the lack of results, you were told you need a better one. Then along came social media: Facebook, Twitter, Houzz, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. and every marketing person in the world (seems like there are millions of them) saying you need a presence on all of these places in order to drive traffic to your website. That site now is on version four and the only sale that’s been converted is by your web developer. I digress.

Companies big and small have struggled to define the difference between sales and marketing and what role each might play in achieving growth. Even before the internet and social media became so dominant, defining the two has been an issue. At some level it is classic yin/yang: You need to create a marriage of sorts where each half is equal, complements the other, and is invested in the other’s success.

Time to Grow Up--Technologically

In the remodeling industry, having these roles defined and charged with specific goals is critical. We are now at a point where websites, social media and “maintaining a presence” are critical. The buying public has matured technologically, and we have to mature with it. References are nice and may help you seal a deal, but good reviews make the telephone ring and the inbox ding. Rankings on search engines help, too.

Remodelers face a dual challenge. First, you must get to where your customer and potential customer base will likely go when looking to remodel and maintain a presence there. That is their web environment. Second, you must make sure your web presence is in an environment that you can live and prosper in. A social media site that caters to teens and twenty-somethings may not have the right demographics for you. Not all social media or referral web sites are the same. Set your requirements and expectations before deciding where to put your good name.

Some remodelers see web sites that require a small buy-in from the public as a prequalifier. After all, the customer wouldn’t have bought the membership if he/she weren’t serious, the thinking goes. However, if that same site lets anyone say anything about you or your company regardless of whether they know you, let alone have done business with you, it may not be the best place to invest your time, money, or reputation. You may prefer to associate with websites or organizations with conflict resolution processes and/or a rebuttal feature.

Let's define a salesperson as someone who generates and/or follows up on leads in order to sell your products and services. A marketing person maintains your presence, creating a web environment where prospective customers will find you, research your company, and get to the point that they are willing to contact you in search of your product and services.

Create a Virtuous Circle

Your goal (the "There” we referred to above) is not just a sales amount, but a level of profitability and an environment that fosters continued growth. Sales and marketing are equally important. Each must work for the success of the other and the organization. In 2013 one can’t work without the other. It should work like this:

  • Successful marketing creates an environment that your type of customer is drawn to.
  • Customers contact your company and sales force engages them turning their inquiry to a sale.
  • Sales force becomes more productive with higher quality leads.
  • Marketing studies the success of sales and refines their efforts, increases your web presence in the correct environment creating even higher percentage of qualified leads.

If the telephone is starting to ring a little more, the short-term answer might be another salesperson. If you don’t want to be asking yourself these same questions this time next year, the answer may be a marketing person or program. Just remember the famous last words of a dying organization: “We’ve never done it like that before.”—Jeff Kida is a NARI-certified remodeler and kitchen & bath designer. He owns DDS Design Services in Chicago.