the differences between sales and marketing

What Are the Differences Between Sales and Marketing?

Alan Melton

Many small business owners are not aware of the differences between sales and marketing. Most business owners understand sales, but marketing carries a bit of mystique for them. Branding can be even more obscure to entrepreneurs.

In larger companies marketing tension exists between the marketing department and the sales department. This is largely because each has varying goals and diverse methods of attaining them.

The Two Can Be Intertwined

However they are so intimately tangled that people oftentimes don’t recognize the difference between the two. Unquestionably, in small businesses, the same persons typically perform both marketing and sales responsibilities.

Nonetheless, sales is different from marketing and as a business expands, the roles and tasks become even more specialized. Practically speaking, they need to co-exist but the persons involved often have a love-hate relationship.

One Thing In Common: Growing Revenues

The activities carried out by both departments are directed at boosting revenue.  Sales is concerned with the final result whereas marketing is concerned with the journey (the long term view). Marketing is concerned with creating an experience, trustworthiness, relationship-building, and commitment before, during, and after a sale is settled.

Given that the tasks and goals are so diverse, it’s sometimes odd to think that the term ‘sales and marketing’ are globally adopted as though they’re the same. This is particularly true in smaller businesses; although there will constantly be a component of crossover between the two, they are essentially different.

And, while the phrase; “sales and marketing” rolls more smoothly off the tongue than “marketing and sales”, the latter is more fitting because that’s the sequence in which it occurs; sales typically come after the marketing has long been in play.

seo marketing priority

Specific Differences Between Sales vs Marketing

Sales and marketing are distinct disciplines with diverse mandates, with some overlap and grey areas that do not resolve where one stops and the other one starts. Often mixed, small businesses need to know the difference between these business pursuits in order to produce results. Although both hold a mutual goal; to draw potential clients as well as convert them into customers, eventually generating income, they are different.

While marketing notifies and pulls contacts and potential clients to your business, sales work directly with prospects to strengthen the value of the business’s solution to turn prospects into customers. Some notable differences are outlined below.




Definition Marketing is creating awareness concerning a brand, product, or service in a market, which consumers may not be conscious of, by emphasizing the problems it fulfills and solves.

It includes implementing a skillful, predetermined set of actions designed to create awareness that engages potential buyers and encourages them to buy.

In the simplest terms, Marketing generates inquiries from prospects.

A sale is a transaction between two parties whereby in exchange for cash, products or services are transferred from the seller to the buyer.

Sales is dependent upon the effectiveness of marketing. Without marketing, sales will not have a prospect to sell to

Technique Discover the impending needs of target prospects and construct a varied strategy, usually across multiple advertising platforms. Cultivate brand awareness, trust and credibility to prospects to meet their needs so as to build long-term interest that will support future sales. Through relationship building, determine the specific “pain points” of the prospect. Then offer services and products that will eliminate the prospect’s pain. Ask for the sale.
Perspective A broad outlook in terms of the company’s unique selling proposition, supply, and pricing to meet the continuing and varying needs of prospects. A narrow view in terms of supply and demand: Is it possible to meet the demand? If so how many sales can we make?
Study to determine the scope of the market, competition, supply opportunities, price facts, and budget requirements. Decide on advertising and marketing platforms. Launch campaigns. Typically, it involves personal interaction in person, over the phone or via screen share session.
Opportunity Multi-channel coverage of goods and services. Put processes in place to ensure customer needs are met, they are (or will be) satisfied, and provide ongoing support. When the different customers’ needs are recognized, match goods or services to fulfill customers’ needs and secure the sale.
Vision Long term: multi-purchase, returning consumers, reliability, and recommendations. Short term: purchase it now.
 Focus    Market Needs Prospect and Company Needs
Methodology Inbound and/or outbound advertising: demonstrate commitment, credibility, social proof, link building, and desire-satisfying. Outbound: the goods or service satisfies your needs; order for it now.
Learning Marketing validates the extensiveness of the customer base and how to build connections. Response from the sales experience is vital to marketing as it feeds into a constantly changing strategy. Sales do not occur mystically; it is the outcome of an effective marketing effort, combined with an effective sales process.
Orientation  Consumer-oriented  Prospect and Brand-oriented

Sales is simply the process of selling the products to prospects at a specific price in a given period. In this the shift of ownership of a good/service from one individual to the next for a value takes place.

Contrarily, marketing is the act of studying the market and recognizing the needs of the consumers in a particular manner.  Once a new product is launched, it is appealing enough to create prospect inquires. At best it “sells itself.” Simply put, it is the process of forming a ready market for the goods and services.

Sales is Fragmented: Marketing is Integrated

Sales possess a fragmented approach, which emphasizes on selling everything produced. On the other hand, marketing has an integrated approach which emphasizes in discovering the customer demands and providing them with the goods of their need.

Marketing projects can commence before a product even exists. It can extend to as far as identifying the demand for a product or service and the range of the market opportunity before the product is manufactured or acquired since it is concerned with creating awareness and openings for an existing product or service. On the other hand, sales can’t happen until the product actually exists (except for pre-orders that are taken for a future launch) and a client set to buy it.

marketing person using computer

 Marketing vs Sales

To build a cohesive connection between marketing and sales, we need to comprehend the nucleus components of each unit. To achieve this, we will go through the following points.

  1. Mode

Whether you’re composing a marketing or sales plan, you’ll have to incorporate details of the company’s history as well as its overarching intentions and actions. The plans can then jump into the features of the plan that are distinct for each operation.

  • The marketing plan sets out what the goods, service, or brand is, its cost, who it will be marketed to, and wherever it’ll be traded. This is equally referred to as the 4Ps of marketing, that is, product, price, place, and promotion. Here, goals are established, marketing techniques are determined, and funds are made available for the campaigns the marketing team intends to pursue.
  • Sales plans incorporate details of the sales strategy, target market, team structure, and goals. Besides, the sales plan defines the action plan, resources, and tools that will be employed to hit these targets.

marketing awareness interest consideration intent evaluation and purchase

  1. Goal

Both sales and marketing work towards a common goal; they focus primarily to generate income for the business/company/organization.

  • The principal goal of marketing is to generate leads. It explains how the product satisfies customers‘ needs and wants. Also, the goals are usually long-term since campaigns can span for many months and because marketing does not end once a prospect becomes a customer.
  • Concerning sales, the goal is to hit shares and sales volume goals; these tend to be short-term. Sales goals are usually measured monthly. Targets are set, and the sales department estimates how much their department, crews, and individual salespersons require to sell to reach the overarching goal.
  1. Sales and Marketing Tools and Resources

A customer relationship management (CRM) database is a tool that can be utilized by sales, marketing, and the firm as a whole. This database assists all departments to handle links with contacts, no matter the stage of the customer lifecycle they belong to.

Social media can further be leveraged by both business functions; for marketing, it can be employed to advance content, and for sales, it can be employed as part of a social selling strategy.

Besides that, some tools are unique to each department.

marketing the stories you tell

Marketing Tools include: Websites, Landing Pages, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools, Data Reporting software, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), Content Creation and editing tools, Email Newsletter Auto-responder tools, Image Creation tools and more. Of course that doesn’t include everyday tools such as email, phone, and now zoom screen share tools. We use some marketing tools with our clients. This helps us to measure their ROI on their marketing results so that we can do more of what’s working and chop what is not working.

Sales Tools: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, Invoicing software, Meetings app, Email management tool, Documents tool, Inventory, and order management software.

The introduction of resources to a marketing or sales approach is especially reliant on new technology. For instance, Artificial Intelligence, AI, and live chat are the latest tools that marketing and sales adopt to expand contacts with leads. This kind of personalized interaction was impossible until lately, and companies can embrace the latest software and technology as it’s designed.

  1. Marketing vs Sales Strategies

Depending on the types of campaigns and clients they’re targeting, marketing teams can consider different strategic approaches.

digital marketing

Marketing Strategies

Prevalent digital marketing strategies encompass: Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing Strategies. Inbound marketing, also known as “pull marketing” is placing your marketing collateral in the path of prospects who are searching for your products and services. Outbound marketing, sometimes referred to as “push marketing” is sending out your information to the masses on social media and other internet platforms in a similar way as sending out flyers or postcards through the postal mail system.

Digital marketing can include Internet marketing, Blog marketing, Content Marketing, Video marketing, Print marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Social media marketing, Local Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Social Proof, Strategic Partnering, Webinars, and other Digital Marketing approaches. Then of course we still have traditional forms of marketing such as billboards, wrapped vehicles, television and radio, etc.

Guerilla Marketing Strategies

Another notable marketing approach for the small business owner is Guerilla Marketing. This is the deployment of no-cost or low-cost marketing strategies that get real results. There is a cost/investment with Guerilla Marketing: the business owner’s time in implementing these strategies. However the return on investment can be really strong.

Small, nimble businesses can run circles around large businesses with these approaches! I personally use Guerilla Marketing (along with some paid marketing) strategies for my own businesses and with my clients’ businesses. I want my clients to become experts in the area of marketing. Many of the digital marketing strategies detailed above can be performed by business owners with some training.


Sales Strategies

Just like marketing strategies, sales techniques can differ depending on their company, products, market, and prospects. Some of the most common sales methodologies include; SPIN Selling, MEDDIC, N.E.A.T. Selling, The Challenger Sale, CustomerCentric Selling, Conceptual Selling, The Sandler System, Dale Carnegie, SNAP Selling just to name a few.

All of these sales strategies assist a buyer to resolve a problem, accomplish a goal, or meet a need. And a percentage of these efforts of the sales team’s selling strategy will result in sales to existing clients new buyers.

Sales and marketing have frequently experienced some kind of sibling rivalry, but if a company is to thrive, we must have a clear comprehension of how sales and marketing can operate together efficiently.

social media marketing

The future: A Blended Approach

As mentioned before, for remarkably long, there have been fruitless turf conflicts between the sales and marketing arms of many businesses. For quite a long time, too many persons have been misled into accepting that ‘sales’ lives under marketing’s directive. And for quite a long, too many persons have been describing selling ‘marketing’, which is not so.

Another difference between marketing vs sales rests on how close you are to converting a prospect into a customer. However, as the business world continues to evolve over the years, it will become even harder to differentiate between sales and marketing.

Yet, smart businesses will adjust their teams accordingly, with aligned experts who understand the changing concept of modern business.

The balance of sales and marketing requires a broad strategy that guides prospects toward converting to customers.

If your marketing and sales teams are in separate units, those units must communicate to be productive. Ensure that they work together to devise a comprehensive approach for reaching prospects from all kinds of leads.

Marketing and Sales Alignment

By aligning the marketing and sales departments, we can get rid of this so-called marketing vs sales story-line as well as build a partnership between the two.

The SLA (service-level agreement) is as approach that builds a set of deliverables that one party has consented to grant another. This is one of the top techniques for marketing and sales to form a partnership.

Under the SLA, both units will establish their shared goals, identify the customer personas or typical client profile, and systematize lead definitions. It will further set the order for lead management and sketch how sales and marketing accomplishments will be measured.

If sales and marketing are aligned, the company is poised to pull and qualify more contacts thus generating more revenue.


We have only scratched the surface of marketing vs sales approaches. But I trust that if you did not have a clear understanding when you started reading, you now have more clarity. If you have any questions feel free to contact me with no strings attached. I have the best job in the world; serving a group of amazing, successful business owners!