“You have to tell a story before you can sell a story.” This quote by Beth Comstock, vice chair of General Electric (GE), focuses on two aspects: It highlights the importance of storytelling in business and aptly describes the role and difference between sales and marketing from a business perspective. “Marketing’” is the story you tell, whereas “Sales” is when you sell that story to the customers. However, many people use marketing and sales interchangeably and are unable to prepare an effective sales or marketing strategy due to this. Let’s understand the difference between sales and marketing and why it is relevant for business growth.
What are Sales?
Sales is the simple process of selling products or services to customers and generating revenue for the company. It is mainly divided into two categories: inbound sales and outbound sales. Inbound sales refer to the activities that occur when a customer directly reaches out to the company to buy products or services through a website or social media. Outbound sales refer to the process of selling goods or services where the organization reaches out to potential customers or target audiences through emails or phone calls.
What is Marketing?
The American Marketing Association defines marketing as an activity or process for creating or communicating value to customers. The process involves identifying, anticipating, and satisfying customer needs and wants by creating, promoting, or distributing products and services. Simply put, marketing refers to the activities performed by a company to create value for its customers. There are several ways in which companies market their products or services. For example, product development, creating content on social media, launching digital campaigns, and public relations. Marketing focuses on four elements, also called the four Ps of marketing—product, price, place, and promotion.
Difference Between Sales and Marketing
Marketing and sales are considered two sides of the same coin and are interrelated. However, they are different phenomena when you look at them from a business perspective. Let’s understand the difference between sales and marketing in detail.
Purpose or Objectives
A business can have multiple marketing objectives like increasing brand awareness, improving customer retention, boosting brand engagement, ranking higher on search engine results, generating more leads, and increasing conversion rates. However, the main goal of sales is boosting revenue for the business.
Marketing focuses on identifying and satisfying customer needs through various methods like advertising, sponsorships, and social media campaigns to improve brand awareness, ultimately leading to increased sales. On the contrary, the sole objective of sales is selling the marketed products or services to customers using various strategies like lead generation, prospecting, and sales presentations to convert potential customers into actual sales.
For any business to grow and succeed, marketing and sales have to be continuous processes. However, marketing activities often have a longer timeframe in comparison to sales strategies. Marketing focuses on building customer relationships, creating demand for products or services in the market, and increasing brand loyalty.
On the other hand, sales is a relatively shorter process that focuses on closing deals and generating revenue. Let’s consider the example of a car dealership with a sales team focused on closing deals with customers who are ready to buy a car. The sales team may use tactics such as negotiating prices, providing financing options, and offering special promotions to close the sale quickly. If the company provides a newly launched car to its customers, the marketing starts before the pre-booking sales. It involves campaigning and making customers aware of the launch of the new car. Hence, marketing campaigns require a longer timeframe.
Marketing strategies involve market research, advertising, public relations, and content marketing to create and deliver value to customers. For example, a company uses a range of marketing strategies such as endorsements by athletes, social media campaigns, and product launches to create demand for its products and build brand loyalty.
Sales strategies involve finding prospective leads or customers, shortlisting those customers, presenting the products or services, and closing to sell products or services. For example, HubSpot has a sales team responsible for qualifying leads, presenting product demos, and closing deals with potential customers interested in their marketing automation software.
The success of a marketing campaign is measured through metrics such as brand awareness, lead generation, customer engagement, and conversion rates. Sales is measured through revenue, sales volume, and sales conversion rates. For example, a company like Microsoft may measure the success of its sales team by tracking metrics such as sales revenue, sales growth, and customer retention.
Micro and Macro View
Another significant difference between sales and marketing is that sales have a micro view of the whole business environment. Sales strategies do not consider future needs or customers or the changing dynamics of the industry. It is focused only on the product and the customer. Marketing requires a comprehensive view of the industry, consumer behavior, market trends, and future demands. It analyzes the factors that can potentially impact sales.
Why Should They Both Work Hand in Hand?
Despite the difference between sales and marketing, both activities have overlapping functions from a business perspective. Hence, many companies focus on “smarketing”, a combination of the sales and marketing funnel. Before discussing its advantages, let’s understand a sales and marketing funnel. Simply put, it is a hypothetical model that describes the journey of a potential customer purchasing the final closing or selling of the product or services. It consists of several stages, each of which represents a different level of interaction between the customer and the company.
Smarketing aligns the efforts of the sales and marketing teams to create a single dedicated team that is primed to create an efficient process that focuses on the ultimate goal—generating more revenue for the business. For example, marketing may generate leads and pass them to the sales team for follow-ups. The sales team may provide feedback to the marketing team on the effectiveness of different campaigns or messaging.
By combining sales and marketing efforts, smarketing can help streamline the sales and marketing funnel and improve the overall customer experience. It thus helps increase revenue generation and improves customer retention for the business.
Learning Sales with Emeritus
Sales and marketing are non-negotiable for business growth. Hence, companies spend a considerable amount of money on sales and marketing and are always on the lookout for talent. Sales and marketing jobs are also rising globally; there was a 63% increase in marketing job postings on LinkedIn in 2021. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will likely be a 10% increase in marketing and advertising manager jobs and nearly two million sales job openings by 2031. However, as new jobs arise, sales and marketing industry trends also change rapidly. It has thus become essential for one to stay up-to-date with these latest trends. Emeritus marketing courses are one sure way of honing your knowledge and acquiring new marketing skills to advance your career.
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