What Is Sales?

Sales is the process of convincing a consumer to purchase goods or services. At a business, the sales process typically involves salespeople contacting leads who fit the customer profile of their target market (often it's the marketing department who first identifies these leads). The salesperson then tries to persuade the lead to make a purchase by pointing out a problem that the salesperson's product or service will solve.

To accomplish this task, sales teams create and follow a sales strategy. The goal of a sales strategy is to lay out explicit guidelines and objectives for the sales organization to follow in order to maximize sales and ensure its sales force is on the same page. An effective sales strategy involves prospecting, qualifying leads, and creating meaningful messaging that shows prospective customers the value of a product or service.

What Is Marketing?

Marketing is the process of making potential customers interested in a business's products or services. More broadly, the goal of marketing is to influence consumer decisions by communicating the value of a product or service. Marketers conduct market research in order to identify a target market and understand its needs. Based on that research, marketing teams generate a marketing strategy that formulates the four Ps of marketing: product, pricing, promotion, and place.

Sales vs. Marketing: 5 Key Differences

A company's sales and marketing efforts both share common goals: effective lead generation, converting leads to new customers, and maximising revenue. While sales and marketing departments must work together to successfully achieve their goals, they do differ in key ways.

  1. 1. Objectives: Sales is the process of actually convincing a potential customer to make a purchase, while marketing centres around generating interest in your business's products or services.

  2. 2. Methods: Sales plans typically use personal interactions such as cold calling, face-to-face meetings, trade show networking, and retail interaction. Marketing plans typically take a more impersonal approach, using methods like print and TV advertising, digital marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, and social media marketing.

  3. 3. Scope: Sales goals tend to focus on hitting short-term quotas, while marketing goals typically focus on long-term, big-picture achievements.

  4. 4. Responsibilities: It's the job of a sales department to take a product or service that their company already created and sell it. On the other hand, marketing departments may be involved in the creation of the product or service itself, using market research to suggest features that their target customer will value.

  5. 5. Tools: Sales departments use CRM software (customer relationship management) to manage the sales cycle, organize communication with leads, and prioritize tasks. Marketing departments primarily use marketing automation software to track marketing-qualified leads and manage their digital and email marketing campaigns.