Consider the job of marketing. Its purpose is to understand the marketplace. That plays itself out in all manner of ways—from segmentation to trade show posters to lead generation.

But, at its core, it's all about the same thing: understanding the marketplaces and letting them know that you understand them.

In other words, marketing is about listening.

Sales, on the other hand, is all about you and your products and services. Telling people what you offer, how they can buy it, what it costs. That, too, plays itself out in multiple ways—from proposals to catalogs to point-of-sales (POS) promotions.

But at its core it's all about the same thing: understanding your products and communicating information about those products to potential customers.

In other words, sales is about talking.

And sales can't begin until you've listened, and until the marketplace believes that you understand what they need. You have to listen first, and talk later.

This is one of my personal touchstones for determining whether I'm doing an effective job of marketing for my clients. A guidepost for every facet of my marketing planning and execution:

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image of Michael Fischler

Michael Fischler is founder and principal coach and consultant of Markitek (, which for over a decade has provided marketing consulting and coaching services to companies around the world, from startups and SMEs to giants like Kodak and Pirelli. You can contact him by clicking here.