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What Is The Difference Between Sales And Marketing?

Posted by Gary Henderson on Apr 2, 2020 2:43:26 PM

Have you ever asked yourself, “Just what is the difference between sales and marketing?”

If so, you’ve come to the right place.

That’s because in today’s post, we’ll be helping you to understand the difference between your marketing plan and your sales strategy.

Most of the confusion comes from the fact that sales activities and marketing efforts often look similar, and so you can forgive people for getting the two mixed up. It can help to think of them as like the internet and email – two different technologies but which coexist together.

Marketing campaigns often aim to create leads for your sales funnel so that your sales reps can then follow up with them and turn them into paying customers.

As if that’s not confusing enough, sales reps often use marketing techniques – such as special offers or free gifts – to encourage people to cross the line.

Still, if you’re a business owner then you need to know the difference between marketing and sales activities if you want to be successful.

At the same time, you need to remember the similarities between the two – after all, both disciplines are ultimately about improving your brand image and creating connections with customers. It’s not B2B or B2C, it’s B2P – business-to-person.

But just because some people get the two disciplines confused, it doesn’t mean that you can’t understand the difference. And the good news is that there’s no need for you to worry because we’re here to teach you everything you need to know.

What Is The Difference Between Sales And Marketing

What Is Marketing?

How to do online marketing

Understanding the difference between selling and marketing is tricky because the difference between the two is subtle.

One good definition is that marketing is all about getting people interested in your company’s products and services, while sales is specifically about selling those products and services.

Marketing doesn’t necessarily have to be about selling.

For example, marketing teams often dedicate a significant amount of resources towards generating attention and capturing eyeballs, as opposed to pushing for a hard sale.

On top of that, marketing teams often spend a lot of time and attention on more intangible tasks like developing a brand identity, improving a brand image or launching a public relations campaign.

While your sales force might be measured and monitored based upon how many direct sales they score, your marketing team is more likely to be evaluated on a wide range of different attributes.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there are multiple different types of marketing focuses. Typically, most marketing campaigns can be classified under one of the following two categories:

Outbound Marketing

This old style of marketing involves interrupting people by advertising and other more intrusive techniques.

It still has a place in a modern marketing plan, but it’s certainly not the be-all and end-all. Some of the most common outbound marketing focuses include:

  • Television ads

  • Billboards

  • Direct mail

  • Magazine ads

Inbound Marketing

This new approach to marketing involves providing kick-ass marketing content to entertain, surprise and delight your customers. It’s made possibly by digital marketing, though it’s not synonymous with it.

The goal is to bring people to you on search engines and social networking sites instead of interrupting them with old school advertising.

Examples include:

  • Content marketing

  • Social media marketing

  • Email marketing

  • Search engine optimization

What Is Sales?

What is the difference between marketing and sales?

When done right, selling is all about asking people to invest in you. You’re reaching out to potential customers and asking them to take out their wallets and to give you their money.

Your aim should be to develop a process that your sales department can follow to encourage potential customers to invest in you. To do that, we use a simple, four-step process.

This is a gentle but persistent process that your sales professionals will get better at with time and training.

Step #1: Ask the lead to make the initial investment with you.

Step #2: Encourage them to make a commitment to you in some way, even if that’s just by signing up for a free trial.

Step #3: Establish enough trust with them so that they’re prepared to make an investment.

You can build trust by communicating with them and proving that they need your company’s products.

This is where sales and marketing strategies can overlap, because this communication can be as simple as a piece of marketing content. The key here is to understand your target audience and to facilitate communication that adds value and builds trust in some way.

Step #4: Follow up, follow up, follow up.

Don’t risk damaging the trust that you’ve worked so hard to establish, though. Don’t leave your marketing qualified leads feeling as though you’re hounding them for a sale.

Instead, focus on developing a genuine connection.

Show them that your company’s products can solve a problem for them or make their lives easier.

Keep Your Sales and Marketing Aligned

Now that you know the key differences between sales professionals and marketing professionals, it’s time to make sure that sales and marketing align.

Think of running a business as like driving a car. When you’re driving, you have to check your mirrors, change gears and align all sorts of other different actions so that they’re all working together.

Marketing does not equal sales, but the two of them do work together.

Using your signals does not equal actually taking a turn, but they go together.

You need to treat marketing and sales as two very different things that interrelate with each other. They can’t work in silos, and you need to develop strategies with both sales and marketing in mind.

One of the best ways to bring your marketing department and your sales team closer together is to use the #R3MAT method, which will help you to understand where each of your marketing qualified leads is in the sales funnel.

#R3MAT method

The #R3MAT method taps into one of the basic principles of digital marketing: the need to reach people in the right place with the right message at the right time.

By checking every piece of content that your marketing department creates against the #R3MAT method, you make sure that there’s a purpose behind everything you do.

And while this is a powerful tool for creating marketing content, it’s also useful for your sales team as a kind of sanity check before they pick up the phone and try to call someone.

Is it the right message based on where they are in the sales cycle, and is it the right time to reach out to them?

And are you reaching out to them in the right place?

Would an email be better?

By starting to think about these questions, your company can dramatically improve its likelihood of building a community of customers and ultimately generate more revenue.

You also create a much more sustainable sales cycle, cut down on costs by driving efficiencies and make yourself much more profitable as a result of it.


Now that you know what you need to know about sales vs marketing, it’s over to you to revisit your sales and marketing strategies to make sure that you’re adhering to best practices and creating full alignment between your two teams.

The good news is that it’s never too late to modernize your sales department or to revisit your approach to your marketing professionals. In fact, by spending just a month or two ensuring that your sales strategy and your marketing efforts are all aligned and working towards a common goal, you can dramatically improve the performance of your company while simultaneously creating happier, more loyal customers.

Understanding the differences between your sales force and your marketing team is no longer something that you can afford to ignore. It’s become a default requirement for doing business, and some people are still struggling to change their thinking and to adopt these best practices.

It can be made even more difficult for small businesses where people have to wear multiple different hats. If you’re self-employed or if you run a small business, it’s likely that both sales and marketing fall into your remit. And if anything, that makes understanding the differences and similarities even more important.

And besides, you can bet that even if you’re not focussing on sales vs marketing and bringing the two of them closer together, your competitors are. If you’re not careful and if you don’t take definite steps to keep up with them, you’re at serious risk of being left behind.

Now that you’ve heard our thoughts, we want to hear from you. Be sure to reach out to us on your social networking site of choice or to leave a comment on this post to let us know what you see as the essential differences between sales and marketing.

We’d love to hear from you and look forward to keeping the conversation going! Make sure to join our TEC below! 

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