Firstly, that is a question that shouldn’t even exist.


Let’s try to define both concepts. Dictionary definitions, before my personal definitions.

Sales: operations and activities involved in promoting and selling goods or services.

Marketing: the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.

Almost the same, yea? Both are to promote and sell goods or services. (I was actually surprised to see “promoting” in sales. Well done, Webster!)

So, what’s the main difference?

Is it just that sales is an activity or operations while marketing is a technique/process?

Well, that can give a clue. Could marketing be more systemized and strategic than sales?

My definition:

Sales is the art of compelling someone to give value for your offer. That is, buy what you sell.

Marketing is arousing interest in your offer in an attempt to make someone buy.

Sales is closing the deal; marketing is creating (more than enough) opportunity to close the deal. Remember: my opinion!

So, which is greater?

There’s this lifelong power tussle between sales and marketing teams. Though unfortunately (or fortunately?!), in every organization that has both teams, they just have to work together to be successful.

And it’s not unusual to throw blames at each other.

Marketing would tell sales: “you guys wasted all the leads we generated; conversions are too low.” Sales would say: “the quality of your leads are very poor and you’re giving us a hard time closing.”

But they don’t have a choice, they have to work together.

None is greater than the other, IMHO!

They both must work for you!

And this is same where you don’t have a team and you’re both sales and marketing.

To me, both are aimed at same goal; closing the deal.

But… marketing is a broader form of sales, and sales is a narrower form of marketing. (Please quote me when I’m famous!)

What do I mean?

Salespersons are great at closing deals, especially one on one, whether on the phone or in person or online.

But sales would be slow if there isn’t marketing. Because marketing allows you to reach a larger audience of potential customers.

That doesn’t make marketing greater, because if you make a large number of people aware of you or your services or product, but you can’t take them down the funnel till they get closed (sold), then your marketing efforts would be wasted.

So…ideally, this is how sales and marketing should work together:

Marketing, through the use of several mediums (traditional or online) gets word out about a product or service in a way that generates interest from the target audience.

They’ll then create an avenue that allows for interested people to indicate or show interest. These are the people that become leads.

Sales then takes over from there; tries to close the deal and convert as many leads as possible into clients or customers, through several proven persuasion tactics.

It’s simple: Marketing fetches interested people, sales asks for the money.

Marketing basically makes the work of sales easier. It saves sales the time of going through each prospect one after the other to determine who’s interested or not. Marketing brings already interested people to the doorsteps of sales.

“Online marketing”?

So…coming online…why is the term “online marketing” more popular and commonplace than “online sales”?

Well, that’s simply because any online marketing strategy worth its salt is expected to close the deal (lead to sales) at some point, especially when the whole process is automated.

But for some industries where deals can’t be automatically closed online, especially where it involves high-end services, online marketing is expected to bring already-qualified leads into the business then sales get their work cut out for them: close the generated leads.

I believe these two reasons show why it’s more popular to say “online marketing” instead of “online sales”.

But hey, that’s just my opinion, and I can only hope it makes sense to you. If you have a contrary opinion or proven fact, do let me know; I love learning everytime!

Bottomline of this article is:

There’s not meant to be war between sales and marketing; rather they ought to work hand-in-hand.

And if you’re a solopreneur or a small business that can’t afford separate teams for sales and marketing, simply fuse them into one. Anyhow you do it, just make sure both sales and marketing elements/strategies/tactics are infused in your business.

They are both complementing steps in an overall business strategy; not rivals!

What do you think?

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