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Russ Allred, business consultant and author at Sunbelt Business Brokers

What wins wars and games, offense or defense? The answer depends on what general or coach you ask. The question is similar in business. What will make you the most money, marketing or accounting? The truthful response in all three disciplines is, "It depends on the strategy and resources."

Before determining your strategy, evaluate your resources. First look within your ranks. In a previous article, we identified the four accounting tiers: CFO, controller, bookkeeper and clerk. While each of these ranks is productive at saving money, they don't produce new revenue. Sales growth comes from marketing.

Many businesses call their salespeople "marketing reps" because the title "salesperson" has developed a negative connotation. Regardless of what you call them, there are four tiers of marketing personnel: strategists, solicitors, order takers and customer service. Strategists define the demographics of preferred prospects and develop the vision, goals and processes to promote more sales. This is a management function and in the absence of a marketing manager, the responsibility falls on the general manager or owner. Solicitors promote new sales. The good ones tend to be amiably aggressive. They use the phone, Facebook, freeways and their feet to find new prospects and convert them to sales.

Order takers have a penchant for passivity. They can work inside or out. Their function is to facilitate the transactions, but they rarely find new business. Customer service personnel try to save the sale. They are tempted to be talkative and explain away whatever error the company made, but the best ones listen more than they talk.

If you are responsible for marketing, assess your resources by ranking your current marketing personnel using these four tiers. In cooperation with your owner or manager, establish your desired sales goals. Now determine the best strategy to achieve your goal, given the skills or limitations of your staff. If you have strong solicitors, then you will do well with a push marketing strategy. If your sales people are more passive then your best strategy is more advertising. If you have strong sales, your best approach may be to increase customer service by training your personnel to "up-sell." The best customer service people not only save customers, they use the opportunity to sell more.

Be careful not to confuse an artist or writer as a marketing professional. They often work in marketing departments, but their ability to communicate an idea is seldom sufficient to close a sale. Even more confusing is the use of the Internet. This bullion behemoth promises global reach and vast revenue growth, but nothing is sold until a seller connects with a buyer on a human level. Finally, tell your offense not to be offensive.

Russ Allred, MBA, is a business consultant and author with Sunbelt Business Brokers & Advisors. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian.