What’s the Difference Between Sales & Marketing? A Breakdown | Goldbeck Recruiting

What’s the Difference Between Sales & Marketing? A Breakdown

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Understand the difference between marketing & sales to ensure they’re working together. Read our primer & improve your company’s bottom line

What’s the difference between sales and marketing? Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, they aren’t exactly the same. While it’s true that both work toward the same ultimate goal of generating revenue for the company, their functions and focuses differ. Understanding the difference between marketing and sales will allow companies to get the most from each, so let’s explore this topic further.

What’s the Difference Between Marketing and Sales

Marketing and sales departments are tasked with finding, attracting, and retaining customers for a company. The way they do so is complementary.

The Role of Marketing

Marketing must create value for the customer and communicate this value. They do so by understanding the marketplace and building a value proposition that will hold appeal. Successful marketing builds awareness of a product and seeks to generate leads. Ultimately, the best marketing efforts result in widespread awareness, market penetration, and strong customer loyalty

The Role of Sales

The sales team take these leads across the finish line by actually selling the product or service. Like the marketing team, they will think big picture, but also have a more short term mandate to generate sales, which are often measured quarterly. 

What is a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel refers to the metaphorical journey that a customer goes through on their way to finalizing a purchase. A popular acronym is AIDA, which stands for awareness, interest, desire, and action. Some people add loyalty as a fifth stage in this model. 

Generally speaking, marketing is more involved in the front half of this customer journey, while sales deal more with the latter portion.

Example of a Sales Funnel

Assume that an individual becomes aware that hot tubs provide certain health benefits. Subsequently they enter the term into a search engine. After clicking on an ad, they wind up on the website of a hot tub dealer. They read up on the benefits of hot tubbing before using their email address to download a comprehensive guide on hot tub maintenance. They receive an email which invites them to attend a product demonstration. At this event a salesperson sells them a hot tub. 

Marketing brought this person to the store by creating the ad, obtaining the email address, and gaining a store visit. Sales finished the job. Together they facilitated the customer journey from awareness to action.

What Do Marketers and Salespeople Do?

There are a number of different positions and responsibilities within each department. The exact make-up of the team will, of course, depend on the size, structure and nature of the company.

Marketing Jobs and Activities

Tasks that marketers are involved with include market research, product development, branding, advertising, and public relations.  

Marketing professionals include writers, graphic designers, illustrators, market researchers, PR professionals, SEO specialists, and other content creators such as photographers and videographers. 

Together, they’ll work to understand the market and their company’s place in it before developing communications designed to enhance their market presence. 

Sales Jobs and Activities

The sales team must research, build, and nurture leads. Their relationships and interactions are often tracked and managed through customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. 

They must have strong knowledge of the products and services they sell in order to motivate and support sales. They are often tasked with managing sales channels and meeting sales quotas. 

Sales positions include sales reps, account executives, and managers. Together they make the sales, generating the revenue that serves as the very lifeblood of the company.

Do Sales and Marketing Work Together?

While sales and marketing are not the same thing, they definitely work in tandem. Marketing must attract leads in order for sales to convert them. The sales team must effectively leverage the materials provided by marketing. 

Both must have a true understanding of the company’s offerings as well as the mind frame and needs of their target market. Only then will they be able to effectively make their case.

Marketing vs. Sales

It’s important for sales and marketing departments to understand their roles. Different companies don’t always break these responsibilities down in exactly the same manner, so definition and communication are key.  

The nature of the company is a factor. Ecommerce companies often emphasize digital marketing, with sales playing a reduced role, or no role at all. Certain business to business categories, meanwhile, rely heavily on relationship-based sales, with marketing being minimized.

When sales fail to match expectations there can be a tendency for the two departments to blame one another. What’s important is that companies understand the difference between sales and marketing and work to ensure that both functions are operating on the same page, working for, not against, one another. The entirety of the company relies on this synergy.