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Marketing vs. Sales

Basically, think of marketing as selling the idea of a product and/or service to everyone, whereas sales sells the product and/or service one-on-one.  Marketing generates the interest, sales brings in the money.  Marketing does everything they can to reach and persuade prospects.  The sales process does everything they can to close the sale and get a signed agreement or contract.


Selling the idea, which is marketing’s responsibility, can be through such media as an advertising campaign, an e-mail blast, or through the company’s web site.  Selling to the customer, which is sales responsibility, can be through such ways as inside sales making phone calls, outside sales setting up appointments to meet with the customer face-to-face, or being approached by a consumer who is interested in the company’s product and/or service.


The job of sales is one of the toughest and most important positions in the company.  They are the ones who have to get the customer to give up their money.  Marketing, which is usually located at the company’s headquarters, tends to think strategically by identifying groups who might need the company’s product.  Sales, which mostly resides in the field, tends to think tactically by going to the individuals within those groups to try to meet those needs with the company’s product.  Strategies are best explained as the direction the marketing effort takes over some period of time, while tactics are actionable steps or decisions made in order to follow the strategies established.  Performing strategic and tactical planning activities before taking action is considered critical for long-term success.  Basically, in most cases marketing exists to support the salespeople. 


Marketing approaches their work in a think tank environment constantly looking for ways and ideas to promote and differentiate the product or service.  Sales are in the real world and are constantly looking for ways and ideas to try and persuade the reluctant buyer.  This is why there is often tension between sales and marketing.  Marketing tends to think of salespeople as mere tools to execute their creative plans, whereas sales tends to view the marketing staff as unrealistic who would be hopeless at actually making a sale. 


The way to find harmony within the two departments is making sure they constantly work together, truly understand each other, and are always making decisions together.  It is a good idea for each department to walk in each other’s shoes for a while to observe the successes and difficulties each department faces.


Much of what determines the relationship between marketing and sales depends on the product or service.  If an individual customer is buying something for themselves with their own money, it is considered consumers sales.  Examples of consumer-packaged goods would be cereal or toothpaste.  A lot of advertising through marketing is needed to get people interested in the product.  If the individual is buying something for their organization with the company’s money, it is considered commercial sales.  Commercial sales are also known as corporate, industrial or business-to-business sales.  Sales has to do more work to get the customer to purchase the goods.


As you can see, how they work together depends on the type of product or service that is offered by the company.  The important thing is that they always work together.


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