Often there is some confusion between these two crucial roles and what they function to provide. The biggest confusion being that to perform one well will, by default, secure the other. This is not the case.
The role of marketing is to attract as much attention as possible to a product or service. The role of sales is to take the people who have noticed what you have to offer and turn them into clients. Definitely complimentary roles if done correctly, however, often people focus too strongly on one to the detriment of the other.
As a search engine placement firm, StepForth fits more into the marketing side of the equation. The web designer(s) and telephone sales staff fill the sales roles. One assumption that many business people make is that hiring a marketing company (SEO in this case) will, by necessity, increase sales.
There are some considerations that must be taken into account to make this true. If you bring the visitors, are you providing enough quality information and visual appeal to turn them into buyers. Does your website sell your product well? Is it nicely designed? A test that every business person should do who wants to market their website is to take a good solid look at their competition. Does your website sell your product as well as the sites of your competition? If not, why not? Throwing money into being found on the search engines, in banner ads, etc will only provide a good return on investment if you have insured that what the visitor will find is something worth going to.
A great example of a promotion gone horribly wrong can be seen in a search for natural acne treatment on Google. If you look at the #9 site it is http://www.acne-treatment.com/. The webmaster has obviously gone to efforts to attain good rankings (including a few tactics that will get them banned in the near future) however you have to ask yourself – would you EVER buy anything from a site like this? Probably not. So all the time and effort put into SEO is pretty much wasted. Had they coupled that with some efforts towards creating a well structured, nicely designed site they would have seen an excellent return on investment.
That said, many businesses find themselves in the opposite situation. Using the same search term lets look down to position 30. There we will find http://www.naturalacneremedy.com/ with a nice design and 3rd page (almost 4th page!) listings. They obviously spent more on design that search engine placement. Will they see a good return on their investment? I cannot say for sure as I do not know their exact marketing strategy however what I can say is that with SEO and their already nicely designed site, they could definitely increase their sales significantly.
While the examples used were website related (its what we know best here at StepForth) these philosophies carry over to traditional brick-and-mortar business practices as well. Do not advertise if you are not set up to sell, and do not set up to sell if you are not promoting either through advertising or by location.
Only with a good balance of both marketing and sales can a business strategy truly achieve its maximum effect.