Marketing vs Sales. Where Do We Draw the Line?

in Marketing

We’ve noticed that many business owners pile the marketing and sales teams together, assuming they are the same thing. The truth is, marketing and sales activities overlap, but they are two distinct processes. We can say that marketing and sales are two sides of the same coin. Traditional marketing and digital marketing efforts are integral to running a successful business and becoming a market leader. The sales rep is extending your marketing efforts to close the deal. 

The big question is, where do we draw the line between sales vs. marketing? Follow along to understand the difference between these two processes, their characteristics, and why sales and marketing should work together.

What Is the Purpose of Marketing?

The marketing department is responsible for strategizing, planning and implementing business actions that gather knowledge about potential buyers and generate interest in the company, the products or services to target audience and customers. 

The aim of marketing activities is to increase the sales process ratio. The traditional marketing model creates ads and buys media space to get the company in front of customers. In the new world of inbound marketing, the focus is on creating relevant content that educates the website visitors about how your product and services can help or solve the target customer problems. 

Marketing professionals educate prospective customers to move smoothly and fast through the buying process without needing the sales department to interfere like it did in the past. 

The purpose of marketing is to make your brand, products and services more familiar with new customers or re-engage with former buyers.  

What Is the Purpose of Sales?

In the past, the sales personnel were the ones that closed a deal. For example, if a TV ad got a potential buyer into a store, it was the salesperson’s responsibility to take it from there and convert prospects into customers. 

Nowadays, when a company has a marketing plan in place that includes inbound and content marketing, the sales reps do not have to put in a lot of effort, as the customer was already educated by the website, the company’s social media profiles, etc. Once the buyer is in the store, the trust in your company has already been built. The salesperson can contribute with additional information or advice if needed.  

However, we do believe that the sales department is vital to a business. Good sales reps operate with empathy and purpose. They know how to approach a prospect to become a customer, especially if a business model requires face-to-face interaction.  

We strongly believe that an alignment and clear communication between your marketing and sales team can make your business grow and increase your revenue. Marketing and sales are interrelated, in our opinion. Marketing knows who your target customers are, what they like, dislike, want and need. Therefore, the marketing department provides high-quality leads to your sales department. The salesperson will take the leads and convert them into buyers. On the flip side, when the sales department gets a cold lead and knows why a prospect did not convert, the marketing team can step in and help the prospects change their minds.  

The Difference Between Marketing and Sales

As we mentioned before, marketing and sales are two completely different processes with distinct goals, strategies, and implementation plans. In this section, we are going to point out what makes them unique. 

Let’s start with the definition of each discipline:

  • Marketing is the systematic planning, implementation and monitoring of business activities to create a relationship between buyers and sellers.
  • A sale is a transaction between two entities where the buyer receives goods, services or assets in exchange for money. 

When we talk about approach, we can see a clear difference between these two:

  • Marketing uses an extensive range of activities and channels to sell products or services, improve customer relationships, build trust and loyalty, etc. More than that, marketing strategies also focus on determining your customers’ future needs and creating a plan of how to meet those needs to ensure a long-term relationship between your company and the customers. 
  • Sales satisfy the customer demand on the spot. They match the demand with the company’s products or services. 

Let’s take a look at their goals:

  • Marketing goals concentrate on the overall picture of satisfying customer needs through the company’s products and services, creating great customer relationships and making customers return. The focus is to create marketing campaigns to promote the company, its products and services.
  • Sales, on the other hand, are focused on achieving the sales volume target.

Their activities and process are also distinct:

  • The marketing process consists of market analysis, communication and distribution channels (email marketing, social media marketing, print marketing, guerilla marketing, etc.). The marketing strategies also include pricing strategies, campaigns and marketing offers. To conclude the efficiency of a marketing strategy or campaign, marketers also monitor the results such as sales tracking, budget, return of investment, and KPIs regarding users and customers.
  • The sales process is usually one-on-one, in person, over the phone, email, chat, etc. 

The scope of these two departments underlines a key difference: 

  • The marketing scope includes market research, advertising through multiple communication channels, customer satisfaction, converting a buyer into a loyal customer, and creating a long-lasting relationship between people and the company.
  • The sales scope is to convince people to purchase the company’s product or service to fulfil their needs.  

Their strategy is also focused on distinct time frames:

  • Marketing strategies are pull-type strategies developed in the long term. A pull strategy is a technique to bring customers to you.     
  • Sales strategies are usually push-type strategies focused on short term objectives. A push strategy takes your product or service and sells it directly to customers without using any other distribution channels.

   With this being said, their identity and priority are as follows: 

  • Marketing aims to build an easily recognizable brand identity associated with customer satisfaction and needs fulfilment. Marketers prioritize reaching target customers and establishing valuable relationships
  • Sales managers focus on creating strategies that meet the needs of customers in a personal and opportunistic way. Sales are characterised by human interaction and their ability to meet the needs at the right time. 

Marketing vs. Sales. Where Do We Draw the Line?

Nowadays, consumers are more informed, tech-savvy and insightful. According to Forbes, 70% of buying decisions are made before a consumer talks to a sales representative. This means that the internet has significantly changed the way that people shop. The online environment is constantly evolving, and our advice for all types of businesses is to adjust if you want your business to succeed. Sales and marketing are central elements of every business, and they depend on each other to achieve business goals. 

Let’s take an example of how potential customers changed their behaviour. In the past, if you wanted to buy a car, you would go to the dealership and ask the salesperson to show you the available models in your budget and to give you more details about the car. Now, a potential customer is doing online research and learning more about the car models and prices. They will research marketing materials and will look for dealerships that can meet their needs. People expect all the information they need to be accessible on your website. They will look for reviews, online comparisons, prices, product variety, etc. This is the territory of digital marketers. They start the buying process and bring qualified leads to the brick and mortar store, in this case, the car dealership. Once a prospective customer is almost ready to purchase and appears at the car dealership, the sales rep will need to close the deal. 

So, in the past, the salespersons were responsible for educating the buyer personas, now the marketing department is responsible for this. We have noticed that the line between sales and marketing is still blurry for many business owners, but we hope with the following depiction of the core elements of them, you can create a great partnership between the two departments.

  • A marketing plan and a sales plan include details about the company, such as its history, business objectives, business goals, and initiatives. But we draw the line at the specific of each department. The marketing plan is going to include the 4Ps: product, price, place and promotion. Which means choosing the product, the price, where it will be sold and who it will be sold to. Marketers will set the goals, determine the marketing channels and make a budget for the campaign. The sales plan is built on details about the sales process, team structure, target audience and final goals. Also, the plan lays out the action plan, the tools and resources necessary for reaching their goals. 
  • The ultimate goal of both departments is to increase the company’s revenue. The marketing department will create a campaign for long-term goals such as fulfilling customer needs and desires, creating a growing community, building trust and promoting the company’s image. Sales focus on achieving the volume goals, which tend to be on a shorter-term, usually month over month. 
  • Tools and resources are key elements for great communication between marketing, sales, and other company departments. CRM platforms are a great tool that helps all the company’s departments to manage the relationships with contacts, despite the customer lifecycle they are in. Also, social media channels can be used by both business disciplines. Marketing will use social media for advertising content, and sales will use it as a part of their selling strategy. The following marketing tools help the department monitor the success of a campaign: conversion rate optimization, search engine optimization tools, data reporting software, and content creation tools. The sales tools are the following: meeting apps, documents, invoicing software, emails, inventory and order management software. 
  • The evolution of technology can make a powerful resource to both departments. An AI or live chat can help develop an instant connection with their leads. The more personalized the communication is, the more trust and engagement it brings.

Conclusion

Maybe in the past, the difference between sales and marketing was more straightforward than today. The truth is that these two departments have the same ultimate goal, but they are entirely different in approach and strategy. Moreover, they appear in a customer’s lifecycle at distinct steps in the sales funnel. 

We do believe that a fruitful relationship between sales and marketing departments is crucial for the growth and the success of your company. Hopefully, this article will help, especially small businesses, to understand the separation between marketing and sales.

If you are looking for a digital marketing team to help you nurture your business and help it grow, you can contact us today!  

Frequently Asked Questions

How do sales differ from marketing?

Marketing activities are specific for the beginning of the sales funnel (reaching the target audience and turning them into leads). Sales reps are responsible for taking over, nurturing the leads and converting them into customers. 

Who do sales and marketing need to work together?

Because they have the same ultimate goal – increasing the revenue. Through marketing activities, you make sure that the prospects attracted to the sales funnel are relevant. This way, the salespersons can focus on converting them and not chasing low-quality leads.

What activities are specific to the marketing department?

Customer research, market analysis, content creation, email marketing, social media marketing, advertising, SEO, graphic design, offline marketing, etc.

What activities are specific to the sales department?

The activities focus on persuading the prospects to buy and involve one-on-one interaction (face to face, over the phone, emails, etc.) and follow-ups.

Tags: digital marketing , seo , web consulting