The Classic Argument | TravelResearchOnline


The Classic Argument

The classic argument of who came first, the chicken or the egg, is most evident when discussing marketing and sales.

The marketing folks will say that without them the salesperson would not have any customers. The salespeople will say without them no one, including the marketing people, would have jobs. As a lifelong salesperson, I subscribe to the later theory.

Marketing and sales have unfortunately become synonymous in the vernacular of the travel industry. While they are intertwined, each is a very different discipline. Confusing the two, or thinking they accomplish the same goals, is a very dangerous and slippery slope that can potentially lead you to say, in the words of one of my clients, “Marketing is bankrupting my business!” What he meant by this statement was that he is spending his hard-earned cash (and credit) attempting to generate sales with no luck.

The fact is, marketing does not generate sales for your business. There are a number of objectives marketing is meant to accomplish such as branding, attraction, and retention – but sales are not one of them.

Like many people who strive for success, I work with several coaches to help me grow in both my personal and professional lives. One business coach recently described the purpose of marketing as “Exploring interesting and effective ways of finding people you are meant to serve. In other words, the purpose of marketing is lead generation.”  I refer to this in my Sales Acceleration System program as attraction marketing.

No matter what you are doing, from branding, business cards, and your website to advertising and social media posts, the purpose of attraction marketing is to illicit a reaction from people you are meant to serve. These are people who you will have defined as your ideal customer or avatar. You are committing considerable financial and personal (time) resources to illicit this reaction thus generating (or not) leads. I know most of you have found as I have, lead generation is an expensive but necessary endeavor.

Once you have generated a lead, i.e. you receive a telephone call, email, or some other response – the function of attraction marketing is complete for this lead and it is time to move into the next steps – the sales process.

As logical as this may seem, so many fail to make effectively make this transition. They simply respond with a price quote, and again wait for the prospect to take a reactive action.

When you transition to the sales process, you are going from a reactive process to one where you are expected, yes expected, to proactively drive the process. It becomes a conversation between two individuals or entities. You ask a lot of questions, they respond.  You present options, they ask a lot of questions. You ask for the credit card, they either provide it or ask more questions. You answer those questions and ask for the credit card again.

Of course, this is an over simplification of the process, but you get the point. In my opinion, the retail sales channel has been so focused on marketing, i.e. generating leads, that we don’t know what to do when we actually get one.

Marketing and lead generation is not selling. You want to stop “marketing yourself into bankruptcy?” Learn what to do with the leads when you get them. It’s not rocket science. Selling is the single most important skill in any business and one of the easiest to learn.  There are a number of resources both in and outside the travel industry.

Back to the chicken or the egg debate. Without sales, there is no revenue to support marketing, admin, service, or any benefit the travel industry provides. There is a cost for everything and without sales, money is in finite supply.

When in sync, your sales and marketing can become a revenue accelerating machine. But when treated as the same function, it is just a matter of time before the wheels fall off.

I was once asked, “Can a business thrive without one of these two disciplines?” It would prove to be very difficult, however theoretically, yes it can because great salespeople embrace the proactive process of prospecting to generate their own leads.

As far as I am concerned, there is no debate. You already know where I stand.

Dan Chappelle specializes in helping sales professionals achieve their full potential by thinking BIGGER, working SMARTER, and producing real RESULTS. Dan Chappelle is a professional sales coach, business advisor, author, and speaker. His specialty is Sales Acceleration.

His training and consulting firm helps develop sales oriented business leaders. In addition to working with individual salespeople and entrepreneurs, his corporate clients include AAA, Cruise Planners, Ensemble Travel Group, and Travel Leaders Group. His best-selling book, Get Your S.H.I.P. Together: The Wealthy Travel Agent Guide to Sales, is available on For information on Dan’s Sales Acceleration programs, visit:

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