The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

Marketing And Sales Are Really Different
Marketing and sales are often perceived as the same thing, but that’s not the case at all. The difference lies not only in where they fit within the company structure but also in their goals, communication methods, and the audiences they deal with. By understanding each of them separately and keeping them distinct, you can create a functional and effective way to reach your customers. Share This Post!

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The terms sales and marketing are often used synonymously with one another. However, they are both unique with respect to the goals and tasks that each profession strives toward.

This e-book is a brief introduction to the difference between sales and marketing and how they correlate within the inbound framework.

We have divided it into 5 separate sections to first show why they end up being used interchangeably, and then to share our perspective on the primary difference.

To us, this primary difference is the most crucial and integral aspect differentiating sales and marketing, and all other distinctions stem from this differentiation.

Afterward, we will briefly explain why your business will benefit from considering these two processes or activities as distinct from each other.

Finally, we will briefly discuss funnel economics and lead into a quick introduction to ‘Smarketing,’ the organized and coordinated implementation of marketing and sales.

Sales and Marketing are 2 Sides of The Same Coin

Don’t get us wrong, marketers and salespeople are sharing the same task. They want to: bring in new clients for your business and increase the likelihood that past clients will continue using your business.

-There is no denying that the broad goals of a salesperson and a marketer are, on the surface, very similar and understandably a bit obscured at times.

The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

Both marketers and salespeople have job roles in which they serve as communicators for a brand or a business.

-Their job is to connect with people and ensure that the brand is represented as best as possible.

To do this, marketers and salesmen need a solid understanding of the business, its Unique Selling Proposition (USP), and its target customers.

Both of them must accurately convey your business’s message and educate consumers on why it’s the best option for them. Because they both involve communication and relationship management, it’s easy from an outsider’s perspective to lump them into one category and think of them as essentially the same thing.

As marketers, we are often asked on forms to indicate our industry or profession, such as on a tax declaration form.

Almost always, the little drop down box of options we are presented with includes the field “sales and marketing”.

Key Questions:  Do you consider yourself distinctly a salesperson or a marketer?  Have you tried to determine your own point of difference between the two?  Does your job role include one or both of these terms?

Key Points of Clarification

Marketing and Sales are both a communication based job role  Both require the ability to build relationships with people  Both contribute to ensuring that a business has an ongoing stream of new and repeat clients  The two professions operate in a similar field, but in different ways

Sales People and Marketers Have 2 Distinct Audiences from One Another

Whilst salespeople and marketers both spend most of their time communicating your brand’s message, the people with which they are communicating differ quite significantly.

Sales People Communicate with Individuals.

Whilst salespeople and marketers both spend most of their time communicating your brand’s message, the people with which they are communicating differ quite significantly.

Sales People Communicate with Individuals.

There may still be many mediums in which this communication takes place, such as:

  • Phone Calls
  • Emails
  • Text Messages
  • Face to Face
  • Skype Calls
  • Social Media

This means that sales people must consistently frame their conversations around a very personal and individual response to the brand’s USP and relate it to the individual they are talking with.

Maintaining a conversation with one person needs to be conducted on a very personal level.

The sales person has the ability to utilise personal details, and other rapport building techniques to accurately and effectively convey the brand’s message.

At the same time, they are viewed as an individual who is representing a brand, and not necessarily the brand itself.

Marketers Communicate with Populations.

There are some key differences when you are communicating to a large population of people as opposed to an individual.

Marketers rely on segmentation of population groups in order to make their message clearer.

This comes in the form of purposefully tailoring one message to a certain ‘kind of person’ or group.

Even with the best targeting possible, the marketer must still communicate in a way that is ‘universally understandable’.

A marketer’s communications tend to be:

  • Group Emails
  • Advertisements
  • Website Copy
  • Blogs
  • Other Content (videos, radio, webinars, images etc)

One of the biggest differences between marketing communications and sales communications, is the fact that a marketing communication can be used over and over again.

Note: Whilst it is possible to template a great deal of your sales communications, you will always receive a far better response if the communication is more personal and less scripted (or at least feels less scripted).

The type of research that goes into communicating to a population is very different to the research involved for communicating with an individual.

A marketer utilises market research, population data and other forms of research.

Key Questions

  • Do you frequently send email only to individuals, or to lists of people also?
  • When you write content for your website, do you write it so that it can apply to a larger majority of people?
  • Based on the distinction, that sales people communicate with individuals and marketers communicate with populations, would you consider yourself to be a marketer? Or a salesperson? Key Points of Clarification
  • Sales People Communicate with Individuals
  • Marketers Communicate With Populations, or Groups of People
  • Both Sales People and Marketers Have a Very Similar Message
  • That Message is Structured and Shaped to Fit The Audience it is Being Conveyed To

The Benefits of a Clear Division between Marketing and Sales

Whether you are managing a team, dealing with out sourced support, or wearing every hat in your business yourself; there is a definite value in drawing a clear line between marketing and sales.

To put it simply, your marketing is what brings new prospects into your network, and your sales process is what turns those prospects into customers.

To try and argue which is more important is akin to a chicken and the egg situation.

If you bring in thousands of new contacts, but can never turn any of them into customers then you will not succeed.

If you bring in very few new contacts, but turn them all into customers then you can continue operating, but you may find it hard to grow.

By breaking your marketing and sales into two clear roles, it will allow you to better track which areas need improvement, and which areas are operating well.

Using your CRM is a huge part of helping you to use data to diagnose any weak spots, or strong areas that may crop up across the two departments.

If you are wearing all of the hatsin your business, you will benefit by knowing what your clear goal is when you are engaged in certain activities, and have a helpful way of framing what your goal is and who you are communicating with.

If you are managing an agency or a team, then breaking into the two departments will help to define what the department’s goals and KPI’s are.

Key Questions

  • If you are currently doing both sales and marketing, do you try and do them at the same time?
  • Do you think of these two areas as distinct from one another?
  • Do you measure your KPI’s in terms of visitors, contacts, leads, sales, customers? Or just Customers?
  • Do you bring in new employees and expect them to perform both sales and marketing? Key Clarifications
  • A marketer has a different set of KPI’s than a Sales Person
  • Assessing how well your sales process is going should be separate to assessing how well your marketing process is going
  • By keeping in mind that it is two different fields, you can divide your labor (or your time) in a more effective and reflexive way

Funnel Economics

If you are unfamiliar with the word funnel in regards to sales and marketing, there is no need to be concerned.

Chances are you have heard the term used before, maybe you have investigated further what people mean by the ‘funnel’ or maybe it is on your to do list.

Funnels play a huge role in sales and marketing, and they are too large a topic to be covered in an E-Book designed to explore the differences between Sales and Marketing.

Never the less, here is a crash course on what a marketing and sales funnel is.

Just remember, there is a great deal more complexity out there when it comes to funnels.

Feel free to get in touch with a member from our team and we can point you in the direction of some great additional resources. The term “funnel” comes from the idea that your marketing message will initially reach many people, then from there a smaller portion will delve deeper, and then a smaller portion will decide they want to get in contact to learn even more. It looks like this:

At the top of the funnel, we have the larger population that the marketer is attempting to communicate with. The marketer’s goal is to bring people into contact with the brand’s message and have them engage with it. This is commonly measured by how many people visit the Brand’s website.

Bringing people to the website is the “attract” phase of the funnel. It is then the marketer’s next objective to have the visitors to the website engage well enough that they leave their contact details, or make themselves known to the brand and become a lead.

This is the ‘convert’ phase of the funnel.

When the lead is ready for a sales person to engage with them, it is the sales person’s job to further drive them down the funnel.

Until eventually they make the decision to make a purchase and become a customer. This is the ‘close’ phase of the funnel. A revised view of the funnel would look like this; the image is courtesy of Paradox Marketing.

This is the phase in which a customer receives such fantastic service, that they are inspired (and enabled) to become a promoter of the business; aka refer their friends or write reviews etc etc.

Key Questions

  • Do you identify contacts as leads and customers?
  • How do you decide when it is worthwhile to have a sales person make contact with a lead?
  • Do you measure how many leads are generated, and then how many leads turn into sales?

Key Clarifications

  • A marketer is attempting to communicate with a larger population
  • Their communications are designed to make the members of that population ‘opt in’ or leave their contact details
  • A sales person uses these contact details to start talking directly to the individual
  • A sales person attempts to take the lead and convert them into a customer

The delight phase of the funnel is the responsibility of every single person within the business, including marketing and sales.

Smarketing is a methodology of ensuring that sales people and marketers are communicating effectively and working effectively with one another.

The linchpin of Smarketing as a system is that the Marketing Department and the Sales Department create a document that they share, this document is a mutually agreed upon SLA (Service Level Agreement).

The document outlines how many leads the marketing department needs to generate in order to hit their KPI’s, as well as how many leads must be converted to customers in order for Sales to his their KPI’s.

One of the biggest differences between sales and marketing teams that operate with a Smarketing system in place, and a team that does not; is that there is a set agreement of what constitutes a quality lead.

Not every lead is created equally, and some leads will naturally convert better than others.

A revised view of the funnel would look like this; the image is courtesy of Paradox Marketing.

Here we can see that the marketer is in charge of communicating with prospects, having those prospects become contacts, and then when they have decided that the contact is suitably qualified to be presented to the sales team, they are then referred to as MQL’s, or Marketing Qualified Leads.

The MQL’s are then assessed in partnership with the sales team, and when both sales and marketing have decided that they are suitable for engagement from the sales team, they become Sales Qualified Leads. After this point, communications with the potential clients becomes the responsibility of the sales team.

The concept of having sales and marketing work closely together in deciding which leads should progress and be contacted by the sales team may seem like an obvious decision to some, and a groundbreaking one to others.

Traditionally, salespeople and marketers have often been rivals or office adversaries to some degree.

Having this center point in the funnel, in which both professionals are assessing the relative fit of a lead for the business, ensures that marketing is not providing leads that cannot be closed, and that sales are not wasting their time with a wild goose chase.

Key Questions

  • Do you have a clearly defined point in which a lead is followed up by a member of the sales team?
  • Have you got any experience in which marketers and salespeople have existed with a rivalry between them? Key Clarifications
  • Smarketing is a concept in which sales and marketing work together much more closely.
  • This working relationship is built around a mutually agreed set of KPIs (the SLA).
  • When marketing decides that a lead is ready, they join the sales team in having a closer inspection
  • When sales accepts the lead it becomes their responsibility to follow up and convert the lead into a customer

Sales and Marketing, as we said earlier, are two sides of the same coin. They operate within the same funnel as one another, and the closer together they can work the better. Understanding the key differences, as well as the key similarities between the two professionals only serves to better allow both departments to operate effectively with one another. Having an effective relationship between marketing and sales can be tremendously beneficial to any business!

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