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Difference between Sales & Marketing

January 14, 2008

Frequently people will use sales and marketing as meaning the same thing. I’m often asked to explain the difference and I’ll offer this description that a friend of mine gave me years ago; he said “They are two sides of the same coin. They are distinct, but one does not exist without the other. Sales backs up marketing, marketing backs up sales. Sales fronts for Marketing and the two have to work together. Each side has its unique needs and requirements and its unique contributions. Each side has to be cognizant of each other, as intimately as two sides of the same coin. But each side has its own identity as well”.

Marketing figures out how to generate leads and sales follows up, goes through the sales cycle and closes the deal.

Within both professions there’s a tendency for these professionals to get frustrated with their colleagues because they often don’t understand one another and because of misunderstood expectations.

Marketing and Sales must make an effort to work together and have an appreciation for what each other does. I’ve found that the most successful people are those that have an understanding of both professions and what they do. It certainly helps if you’ve have one or the other discipline in your background. It also helps to have management create an environment that encourages cross communication. Sales should get to know what the major components of marketing are and marketing should do the same. In addition, I’m all for marketing going out on sales calls to get to know what the customer has to say. Both sales and marketing should meet frequently to understand the issues at hand.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Gordon Liew permalink
    October 18, 2008 5:53 am

    Hi, I am from the Asia Pacific Region. Perhaps this feedback may provide a different perspective in the difference between Sales and Marketing.

    For Sales professionals, the prime responsibilities is really the number games quarters after quarters. Sales professionals main objectives is to bring in the sales order and revenue and also build pipelines of suspects, prospects and then turn them into customers. Sales people deals with customers directly and bears the rough ends when things, especially deliveries and expectations goes wrong.

    Marketing professionals do different roles.
    Though they do carry some sales revenue objectives indirectly, they are more concerned with how to generate leads through various marketing programs based on local topographic landscape. In Asia Pacific countries, this is highly sensitive in view of different races, languages, culture and religions. Hence in a nutshell, the marketing folks are usually given a marketing budget to generate stretch their dollar to generate high visibilities for their products and services offerings. They are also concerned about maintaining mind shares, market shares and lastly wallet shares. Marketing folks usually does not deals with customers directly. Hence they receive mostly feedback from sales professional to form their future marketing strategies for their organizations. There may also be need to work with sales professional to keep tab on what their competitions are doing to ensure that they are on top of the marketing situation in their marketing territories.

    In most situations, they dovetailed with their sales counterparts to do a better job. Likewise, sales professionals should not blame their marketing folks entirely if they cannot find enough hot leads. They also have equal responsibility to be resourceful to source out their leads for further cultivation into actual sales.

    This are my takes and I stand to be corrected and invite more opinions to make this space a lively one. This one is from a professional sales director for Asia Pacific Region.

  2. Kathlen permalink
    July 10, 2012 10:45 am

    Thanks Gordon Liew for a detailed, well delivered response. It certainly cleared up any grey areas in my mind between the two job functions.

    Kathleen, Trinidad WI

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