Sales vs Marketing- Who brings in the revenue

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on October 22, 2011

The Argument through Ages

There is the age old fight- between Sales and Marketing people- on who actually runs the company- who brings the revenue, the mullah to the firm? Who is the one responsible for bringing profit- the salesman who is meeting the people, who convinces them of their need and closes the deal? Or should the credit go to the Marketing guy- who actually told the Sales guy where to find the customers, on advertising the product and making it possible for that Salesman to sell the ice to the Eskimo? After all, without their Advertisements about those flavoured Ice, clearly the consumer would have not have had any interest in the product. So- who is right?


The Changes

During the early phase of Industrial era, and in Indian context- till as late as 1980s, the demand was always higher then supply- there was no need to create that demand or to find the potential consumer. The main work was of the Sales force to close the deal, to make them trust in the product- educate the consumers about the product. Haven’t we all seen in our childhood, our parents going to an Electronics store and then deciding on which one to buy based on what the person at counter recommended? But then with the information age, with increasing competition in in most industries- the scenario changed- now, when we plan to go and buy a Digital Camera- we know which one we want- the one with Priyanka Chopra- it looks slick and will suit me- and has great picture clarity with 12.0 megapixel. It does not matter if the Sales guy is recommending the other one, I will go with the one that suits me. Our thinking has changed.




Generating Demand

Fulfilling the demand


Longer Terms- to create Brand for the Product

Short term- to meet targets


From Identifying the product attributes, the target segment, promotion with appropriate positioning

Convince the consumer of his need and to make the purchase


Consumer Focused

Target/Product Focused

TABLE 1- Difference between Marketing and Sales

A Different Point of View

So- Does that mean Sales is obsolete now? Why do experts still give it so much importance then? The reason is simple- Sales without Marketing is not probable in the competitive age- but marketing without sales force is also an uphill task of great deal. But after analysing the differences and changing consumer behaviour- one thing that struck me was: How Industries actually differentiate in importance of Sales and Marketing. An handloom product, the Chinese headsets or watches, or even to a great extent in Apparels and Fashion industry- Sales force matter a lot more. Without that sales lady trying to butter you up and egging you to buy both because you look like Hrithik is the Blue shirt and Shahid in the red one, you probably would have spent only half of your pocket money.  Also, if we broaden the definition of Sales team and their responsibility- and consider the availability of products on time, giving targets to the channel partners, etc to be under them- even in products like Coke and Pepsi- the distribution channel, the negotiating power of your sales force with the Channel partners- especially in rural India will make a huge difference in your revenue. Here- you do not need to splash crores on Marketing and decreasing your profits- just have a great sales team to bring those Millions year after year.

For Marketing, it has the support of major Electronic consumer goods industries, the automobiles, FMCG products and many others today. Imagine- Steve Job launches Apple I-phone 3G couple of years ago- and the day product is supposed to hit the market, there is queue of thousands of people outside Apple stores. Here- what did the Sales team have to do? Their product is sold by the name itself, by the Branding done by its Marketing Team. Or in case of that Adidas shoes- your favourite sports player is using them, the shoes are shown for Athletes, they look trendy- You plan to buy it. That’s it- no need for company to negotiate with you, to wear you down and sell their product.  So- they are the one who brings in that money.


So, as we saw- Sales and Marketing- both are extremely different to each other, often have different paths to the same objectives of Revenue- but which one brings in? In some industries you can tell- but what about the rest? Which one you can NOT do without? The answer is marketing. Today, where every product is potentially sold the moment its auctioned on or, with consumers getting more knowledgeable about the product, and if not- can easily get the information at tip of the information- it is Marketing which is more essential- which will not only create the Brand that will sell the product, but will sell it to the people you want to.

With all said, it’s difficult to say who brings the revenue- Sales or Marketing- or which is more important? It’s like answering the question- who is more important for Indian Team in ODIs- Dravid or Sachin? While the former has played a huge role in past, still has an impact and you know its value, but it will be the latter you will always select- because it’s not just the past, but your present too- and only one whom you will you trust with the success today. If your Marketing is not right, you do not have a Brand- and as Philip Kotler said: “If you are not a Brand, you are (just) a commodity”



This article has been authored by Priyansh Modi from IIM Shillong

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