Sales vs Marketing - Do They complement or compete ?

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on May 18, 2011

Many times we come across this question: What is the difference between Sales and Marketing? The exact answer is not really known. Many times they are used together and many times (wrongly) they are used interchangeably.  So what’s the difference?

Both Sales and Marketing have similar motive, to get the products sold and get revenue to the company. ‘Sales‘is a department or a process which is much closer to the customer whereas Marketing is at a higher level. 


Sales teams are closely working with the distributors and retailers to push the products to the customers whereas marketing is working to pull the customers to the product through advertising, communication and schemes.

Sales vs Marketing- The Big Debate


Let’s think on it more closely. If Marketing doesn’t tell people about the product, how will sales close the deal? Sales people will have no leads to work on.  Marketing is everything that an organization does to reach and persuade prospects/Customers/Clients whereas the sales process is everything that an organization does to close the sale and get a signed agreement, contract or direct revenue. Both are necessities to the success of a business.

Some people argue that Sales is the real job whereas Marketing is just an expense which include cost centers like Advertising, campaigns, events, trade fairs etc. According to that School of thought, Sales is the one who gets you the real revenue whereas marketing just incur expenses.

Let’s look at the other way now. Assume a company doesn’t go for any kind of campaign or communication or segmentation about what they do or sell to the target audience. How will the audience know about it? This means Sales team has to go to the target audience and actually work on telling about the product and also selling it in the first meeting itself else it’s a failure. 

Here is what marketing does. Marketing informs the target audience through well targeted methods e.g. advertising.  Now if the Sales Force reaches that audience with the product, they need not explain the basics of the product from scratch. The prospect already has a lot of info about the product through the ad he watched on TV or YouTube or a blog from an evangelist. This increases the probability of Sales Guy actually closing the deal. See it in the contrast of a situation where the customer was being exposed to the information of the product for the first time during a sales meet or over the counter. 

Marketing doesn’t only do a one way campaign. These days’ good marketing teams deploy analytics for knowing the actual response of a particular ad campaign or a trade fair. They gather leads, map the responses. They are ready with the maps telling those areas or age groups where the product might sell more easily. This data can be used by Sales Team to effectively guide the distribution to those areas. This again would lead to higher sales.

One more concept which can highlight the use of Marketing is the Test Marketing. Whenever a new product/ service is launched, the marketing department do a test marketing in a sample area which is a representation of the actual market. This actually gives organization the data about what can happen when this product would be launched in the whole country for an example.

Still if there is a doubt in Sales and Marketing, Consider a simple Process.

First Scenario:

“Person A goes to a customer directly with a product and asks him to buy it directly (typical sales). The customer has never seen or heard about the product before this.”

What do you think are the chances of an actual sale?

Second scenario:

“Person B first informs the customer about the product through demo or presentation. His product is also featured in media and customer has info on the brand. Now B pops up the question regarding the actual Sale.”

What do you think are the chances now?

Obviously the chances increase in the second case. If we consider a basic transaction in our daily life, how many of us go and buy a new soap brand which has never been heard of before (Also its brand or manufacturer’s brand is never heard of before). Most of us would not buy us unless you are an innovator or an experimenter.  This is where Marketing has a well defined role.

Marketing doesn’t only communicate they also identify the customer at a high level. Marketing is the department which handles concepts like segmentation, targeting and positioning. During the actual product development, marketing department has the more important role to play. 

On the other hand, Sales Team comes into picture when the product has to be “Sold”. We refer to Sales department as Sales Force also. As an analogy, marketing team is like a Commander in an army who makes the strategy and game plan to conquer the consumer market. And SalesForce is like the army which actually goes on the Field and makes the things(read sales) happen.

Marketing just doesn’t stop after a sale is complete. It extends on both sides of Sales. Pre Sales and After Sales are both fields of marketing.  ‘Sales’ is what you do and say during the moment your product is being purchased by the customer by cash, credit or contract. Sales people have to feed the Marketing process and use the resources effectively that they had a part in building. There needs to be a symbiosis between the Sales and Marketing for the success of organization.

The Article is based on idea given by our registered member: Bilal Safdar.  If you too have an idea or an article with you and want to see here, please follow ‘Write For Us’ Link.


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