Phil Garrett of Systematic Selling explains that “marketing” and “selling” are distinct activities at his Oct. 27 seminar.

PHOENIX - As the United States was likely slipping into a recession, the Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International was attempting to prepare its members with some “economic climate control.”

Its 2008 convention, held Oct. 25-28 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix, was well attended by association members, many of whom seemed upbeat despite depressing economic news on their hotel room televisions.

Phil Garrett of Systematic Selling was certainly upbeat during his Oct. 27 seminar, “HVAC Marketing: Myth or Magic?”

His session was reminiscent of the famous quote from the 1967 Paul Newman film, “Cool Hand Luke”: “What’s we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” It appears similar issues are plaguing many wholesaling companies. Garrett set out to clear up some confusion.

He explained that many people don’t understand the difference between marketing and sales. And that lack of a common language can hamper both activities.


Systematic Selling's Phil Garrett explains how companies succeed with sales and marketing.
Garrett said marketing is a strategic process of knowing the right thing to do - and how to do it. By contrast, sales are more of a tactical activity - how to do the right thing.

When you sell, you cause someone to buy something from you that they were going to get from somebody else - or not at all.

And “sales” are not as common as you think, Garrett said. Ninety percent of business activities are “purchases,” not “sales.”

Such misunderstandings contribute to problems within many organizations. You need a common company language.

“When you focus on that, it becomes a lot easier to do,” he said.

Other definitions he recommended adopting company-wide:

• “Sales promotions,” Garrett suggested, are sales processes applied to a specific product, customer or market within a defined time period.

• And “merchandising” is what causes products to be bought from your company.

“You have one shot - get them to buy it from (you),” he said.

Garrett then moved on to a subject that he said confuses a lot of people: sales, service and marketing.

He asked the audience which was more important, sales or service or marketing. Not waiting for an answer, he told them: “They’re all important.”

The conference booth program, an Oct. 28 trade show, featured literature on some of the newest HVAC products.


“Marketing defines what kind of customers we want,” he said, adding “sales gets customers (and) service keeps customers.”

Garrett listed the five most common mistakes he and partner Dave Gleason find when dealing with wholesalers.

1. Confusing purchases with sales. Everyone needs to understand the difference, Garrett said.

2. Confusing marketing with sales support. “What’s the role of the salesperson?” Garrett asked and then answered, “To find business.”

3. Being reactive with sales and marketing.

4. Not enforcing accountability.

5. Letting margin determine pricing.

“You do not run your business on percentages,” Garrett said. “You run it on dollars.”

He then went over the marketing process, which Garrett said could be remembered by the acronym WWHRD.

What: Define what has to be done. Grow sales, market share or the customer base? Garrett called this the hardest, most important step.

Why: Figure out why it has to be done. Some customers may not be profitable or the company is not growing. Garrett said this step defines the critical reasoning behind your plan.

How: Define how it is to be done. This is the fun part, Garrett said.

“Most of our plans tend to start in ‘how,’ ” he said. “We’re not ‘what’ or ‘why’ people.”

Results: Define the required results.

“If it isn’t measurable, it isn’t a result,” he said.

Discussion: Force workers to give you feedback, Garrett said. “Listen more than you talk.”

To accomplish these goals, Garrett recommended starting small and involving staff, praising those who most embody the goals. Finally, he said, be patient.

For reprints of this article, contact Jill DeVries at (248) 244-1726 or e-mail