Both marketing and sales are important and related components of a business operation aimed at bringing goods or services to the consumers. However, despite having the same goal and some overlaps, as well as despite the necessity of close integration between the two, marketing and sales are inherently different in terms of their core principles and actual practice.
Marketing vs. Sales: What is the Difference?
Marketing has the primary purpose of building and maintaining the desirability of a product to the target market through specific marketing activities and tactics. On the other hand, sales collectively have the primary purpose of selling the product to the target market or more specifically, to the buyer within a given period.
It is also important to note that marketing has a wider scope, and in most cases, sales fall under the general marketing plan. In consideration of the marketing mix, marketing also involves product development, its placement or distribution, pricing strategy, and promotional strategy.
Marketing is also about creating a bridge between an organization or its product and the buyers using an extensive, systematic, and complex process. It is also cross-functional because it overlaps with other components of business operations. On the other hand, sales involve a straightforward transaction between the organization and the buyers.
The complexity of marketing also makes it a long-term process. The goals and objectives set in the planning stage are also long-term. Meanwhile, sales are periodic activities confined with shorter periods and determined by targets or sales volume.
Another difference between the two is organizational structure. A marketing department is composed of a diverse pool of employees with different specializations and functions. On the other hand, a sales department or a sales team has members with specific expertise in selling and a function to generate sales or meet the predefined sales volume.
In consideration of the definitions and scope mentioned above, sales become possible due to the pre-work and ongoing work established by marketing activities. In most cases, sales or more specifically, selling is the final stage of marketing.
Note that the difference between marketing and sales is more pronounced in larger organizations or those businesses with complex operations or larger scope. However, in smaller organizations, both marketing and sales functions are sometimes confined within a single department and under the same team or group of people.
FURTHER READINGS AND REFERENCES
- Beverland, M. Steel, M. and Dapiran, G. P. 2006. “Cultural Frames That Drives Sales and Marketing Apart: An Exploratory Study.” Journal of Business & Industrial marketing. 21(6): 386-394. DOI: 10.1108/08858620610690146
- Biemans, W. G. and Brenčič, M. M. 2007. “Designing the Marketing-Sales Interface B2B Firms.” European Journal of Marketing. 41(3/4): 257-273. DOI: 10.1108/03090560710728327
- Dewsnap, B. and Jobber, D. 2013. “The Sales-Marketing Interface in Consumer Packaged-Goods Companies: A Conceptual Framework.” Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management. 20(2): 109-119. DOI: 10.1080/08853134.2000.10754230