The Differences Between Marketing and Sales

By: Thomas Young

It is very interesting, in my work as a consultant, to hear how people interchange the terms sales and marketing. It is very common for sales people to refer to themselves as marketing representatives and for marketing managers to have no idea about the sales process and how it fits into their marketing efforts. Here is a basic summary of the very different roles of marketing and sales.

Marketing Generates Leads
The primary role of marketing, in any business, is to communicate the message of the business to its target market and create inquiries, or leads. This is carried out in the promotional activities of the business such as advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, and the Internet to name a few. This will drive potential customers into the first stage of the sales process.

The Sales Process Generates Orders
The person inquiring will then begin the process of evaluating if this is the right place to have their specific need met. Usually, a sales representative will begin interacting with the prospect in a way that leads to a sale. In other cases, it may be a storefront, web site or customer service rep that begins the sales process and takes the order.

Personal selling is the process of putting a human being in contact with customers and allowing the relationship that develops to result in a sale for the business and satisfied customers. Marketing brings the customers into the sales process.

Marketing Creates Perceptions
Marketing efforts create ideas in the mind of a customer about how the company’s products or services will meet their needs. This is an important step in motivating someone to inquire about the business or buy. Those perceptions should support the sales process and assist the sales representative in closing sales. Perception is reality in the mind of a customer.

Sales People Fill a Need
The sales rep will then work with those perceptions and discover how to meet the needs of the prospect through personal interactions. This involves asking probing question and listening, presenting information, properly handling objections and asking for the sale, or closing. This process is critical to business survival because it is the true expression of why a company exists, which is to meet the needs of its customers.

Marketing is the Big Picture
The marketing component is the single most important part of a business plan. It defines how customers will come to you and buy your products or services. It is a business-wide strategy that defines the target market, pricing, sales channels, the competitive advantage, market research objective, product/service, promotional plans and all other related functions.

The Sales Strategy is part of the Marketing Plan
The sales process includes prospecting, qualifying, handling objections, presenting and closing. How this is performed is included into the sales strategy for the organization, which is a part of the overall marketing plan. The entire process must be linked together and supportive in each area.

Effective Sales and Marketing is Explosive
The absolute magic comes when sales and marketing efforts are coordinated and work together to generate results for your business. The most successful companies in business today have mastered this marketing and sales synergy and are reaping the profits. Work to coordinate and plan your marketing activities to create a source of inquiries that can be sold through your sales process. This is the ticket to great success in business.

Tom Young, MBA is president of Sales Training Plus, a marketing, Web site development and sales consulting firm helping companies increase revenues.