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By
Olivia Walls
Olivia Walls on September 29, 2020

What Is The Difference Between Sales And Marketing?

Often confused with one another, it's important for small businesses to know the difference between sales and marketing to generate results.

Sales Strategy

Sales and marketing are two very important, but different, functions within a business or organization.

Simply put, marketing involves laying the groundwork for the sales process. That includes attracting leads and prospects to your business. Sales, on the other hand, involves closing the deal.

Easy enough, right?

Not so fast.

Unfortunately, for many companies, these two departments often compete instead of working together. And, if there is a lack of communication and feedback between the two, the company’s success may suffer. 

It’s more important now than ever before, for these two departments to work together. Although different, sales and marketing are connected and share a common goal … to attract prospects and turn those prospects into customers.

When businesses understand that both functions are critical to the buyer’s journey and recognize that by working in alignment they can continually improve strategies and processes, they can produce better results.

If the two aren’t already aligned in your company, here’s why they should be.

 

What Is Marketing?

 

the difference between sales and marketing

Marketing informs people about your business, educating them about how the product or service you offer meets their needs or wants.

Marketing takes the reins in determining the business’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP) - essentially what it is that makes your company stand apart from the competition. Marketing researches target audiences, what those audiences need and how the company’s products or services best meet those needs.

Today, the biggest driver for most businesses is online marketing. There are several different types of marketing that may benefit your company depending on your target audience or buyer persona:

  • Content marketing, such as blogs, ebooks, white papers and podcasts. Blogging, in particular, is one of the single most effective tools in attracting customers you want and providing real solutions or education around the areas that interest them the most.
  • Search engine optimization, or SEO. This process optimizes content on a website, including in blogs, so that your content appears in search engine results. This is particularly useful when you’re trying to attract people who have performed searches that relate to the service you offer.
  • Pay-per-click marketing, also called paid search. This involves placing your ad where your customers are searching. An example of this is Google AdWords. Each time a user clicks on an ad, you are charged a certain amount of money.
  • Social media marketing, such as Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and LinkedIn. Facebook ads, in particular, can help you target those with a need (even one they may not recognize) for your product or service.
  • Email marketing that targets certain segmented audiences. There are services available to help with this, such as Constant Contact and iContact.
  • Print marketing, such as newspapers and magazines. Several different publications offer sponsorship and advertising opportunities that can be beneficial if the publication’s readership aligns with your target audience.

All of these marketing strategies use lead generation techniques to drive new prospects, and ultimately, new customers.

More sophisticated marketing teams use a combination of the above and typically segment their target audiences to ensure the right people are receiving the right messages. They often use advertising, public relations, digital tools like email and social media, and other resources to distribute their carefully crafted message at the right time and right place to best create opportunities.

 

What Is Sales?

Once marketing has generated leads, the sales team is generally responsible for converting those leads into customers.

Although sales is often thought of as the conversation that helps people determine whether or not they will buy from you, there’s a lot more to it than that. It includes all of the activities that are necessary to sell your company's product or service...contacting the lead, determining the prospect's needs, pricing products and services, preparing proposals or quotes, and more.

A Gartner 2019 Chief Sales Officer poll identified the top three priorities of sales organizations in the U.S. were account growth, improving manager effectiveness, and enhancing pipeline activities.

Salespeople work to build relationships in a more personal, one-on-one way. Their strategies are about developing an understanding of the customer and overcoming objections. Through their more direct and personal approach, they often serve as excellent brand ambassadors for the company, while also becoming a trusted partner and problem-solver for the client.

 

What Is The Difference Between Sales and Marketing?

There are distinct differences between sales and marketing. Below are some of them.

  Marketing Sales
Goals
  • Promote the company, its products and/or services
  • Generate leads
  • Focus is typically long-term using campaigns
  • Function as brand ambassadors for the company
  • Close sales 
  • Focus is typically short-term on achieving sales goals
Plans 
  • Define product and/or services
  • Identify and describe target customer
  • Price product and/or services
  • Determine how to market product and/or services
  • Create a sales action plan
  • Determine sales process
  • Define team structure - territories, etc.
  • Determine sales goals
Strategies
  • Online Marketing
  • Print Marketing 
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Video Marketing
  • Conceptual Selling
  • Value Proposition Selling
  • Solution Selling
  • Benefits Selling
  • Inbound Selling
     

 

 

Why Must Marketing and Sales Work Together?

 

the difference between sales and marketing

Without marketing, customers and potential customers might never be introduced to the company. Without sales, the company might not be able to maintain the necessary revenue stream needed to stay in business.

The need for both marketing and sales is evident. Today, however, it’s more important than ever that the two work together.

Here’s why:

  • Customers must be marketed to with the right message, and at the right time and place. If just one of those doesn’t happen, your content likely will be overlooked … or worse, deleted forever.
  • You’re competing with access to information. The web makes it easy to find whatever information you are seeking, including user ratings and product reviews. Many customers make purchase decisions before they even talk to a supplier. That means the buyer’s journey is happening without you.
  • Businesses that tightly align their sales and marketing teams and their processes grow faster. According to HubSpot, organizations with good alignment achieve 20% revenue growth on average annually. Those that have poor alignment saw revenues decline by 4%.

Other benefits of aligning the two teams include better communication, improved transparency, and an overall better collaborative environment.

For example, because of the relationships they build with customers, sales professionals are in an excellent position to provide useful feedback and customer insights to the marketing team so that they can continually improve products, positioning and understanding of the buyer’s journey.

You can learn more in our article, Unifying Sales And Marketing For Breakthrough Success.

 

Bottom Line

Whether you are doing your marketing in-house or hire a small business marketing agency for your business, it is important to understand the differing roles and importance of sales and marketing working as a team. 

Your company's future depends on it.

The Definitive Guide To Sell Better And Faster

Olivia Walls

Olivia is the Co-Owner and VP of Sales for InTouch. She loves getting to know and connecting with people.