Explaining What is Sales and Marketing? (for technical people)

I worked for ten long years as an engineer without understanding what sales and marketing actually did. I thought it was cheesy car guys pushing products on me and annoying executives making flashy pointless brochures. But starting a start-up makes you realize that without people who can find the right people for your product, find a way to explain it to them and get them to buy it, you’re dead in the water. But as you begin, you’re going to have to be the marketing and sales guy. To be successful, you’ll need to understand what it actually is.

Both are actually fairly simple if you find the right analogy. I like the classroom analogy. Let’s take Math. Math is a tool we all use. It can be free but we can also spend money on calculators and mathematicians and computers etc etc. But first we have to learn it. How do we learn it? We go to a classroom, so we learn it from a text book and from a teacher.

Well, in that classroom you have your business. Math is your product, it is what gives those students value by giving them ability to have fluency in math. The text book is the marketing material. It is what the sales-person or teacher uses to teach them about math. Should the teacher be successful, those students or customers will stay in the course and become proficient in the product that they will use it for a long time to come. While the books in that class are free, they may buy other books and spend more money on math by going to a University where they will spend thousands on books and courses and at some point become professional mathematicians themselves, becoming math “salesmen” teachers or math “marketers” by writing their own text books.

So loose the previous concept of the marketer/salesperson. You are a textbook writer and the teacher, your customers are your students and your product is the classroom and what you choose to teach them.

Keep marketing, keep selling, keep researching, keep writing and keep teaching.