Outside of the world of sales and marketing, the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. It makes sense: you market in the hopes of eventually increasing sales, after all. But marketing and sales have two different purposes, as well as different methods. It’s important to understand that sales and marketing are not the same so that you can execute both more efficiently.
In today’s blog, let’s discuss the distinction between sales and marketing. How are they the same, and how are they different?
Sales are the activities and steps that your business takes to make a sale on a product or service. This includes garnering interest from the customer, making the sales offer, closing the deal, and delivering the product or service. There is also the hope of turning your customer into a repeat customer by providing high quality service when it comes to sales. Often, companies use a sales funnel in order to fine-tune their sales process.
Sales are all about getting to that closed deal, the commitment and purchase of a product or service. Rather than focusing on drawing traffic to your website or store, you are focusing on finding those who are most interested and most likely to buy your product or service.
Marketing is the process of raising awareness of your products or services and expressing their value to your target audience. It begins with determining who your target audience is and what value your product or service holds for that demographic. Marketers then research the types of marketing campaigns that are most effective to their audience. For instance, a product marketed at Gen Z college students will be marketed very differently and on different platforms — such as Instagram or TikTok — than a product marketed for senior retirees.
The hope, of course, is that the garnered interest in your brand will result in increased sales. However, the focus of marketing is much more on those first steps of sales: piquing the interest of your target audience.
Marketing tends to overlap with sales in the earlier stages of the sales process. You need marketing in order to garner interest in your brand, as well as your products and services. This is a time when marketing and sales teams will often work together to achieve the same goal.
Lead generation tends to sit squarely in the middle between marketing and sales. Marketing draws your target audience to your brand, and then lead generation whittles down the larger audience to the potential leads that are most likely to make a purchase. So through the lead generation process, you will see a difference between sales and marketing, as well.
Despite these overlaps, there are some key differences between sales and marketing. Some of these differences include:
Marketing teams may hope to increase sales, but it is not their responsibility to close on sales. Likewise, sales teams do not have to concern themselves with raising brand awareness. These teams work on different ends of the sales funnel, and despite their similar goals, their functions are very different.
The marketing team finds your target audience. Marketing may use social media or email outreach in order to connect with target audience members and form relationships before sales comes into the equation. This is important, so the customer does not simply feel that they’re being pressured into a sale. Once those relationships have formed, sales teams nurture those relationships with lead generation and sales negotiations. This can help them to close the deal more effectively.
Marketing involves a hefty amount of research. Marketers may create target audience profiles, research where their target audience spends most of their time online, and research the types of marketing campaigns that are most effective with the target audience. While marketing teams might have some surface-level interactions with the customers, they spend most of their time in research and strategy, forming the most effective marketing plan to reach their target audience.
Sales teams, instead, focus on interactions with the customers themselves. They will have discussions and ask questions of the customers and try to adjust their sales pitch to be relevant to a particular customer. A sales professional will need to be more of a people person in order to effectively do their job.
With marketing, the more of your target audience that you can attract the better. Because the more people take interest in your brand, the more likely you are to find someone who will make a purchase. Sales, however, narrows it down and focuses on just the most valuable leads. What would lead this person to make a sale? What’s holding them back?