Answering the age old question: the difference between sales and marketing

Posted on

Sales and Marketing these go together, right? They are kind of the same, right? What’s really the difference anyway? I mean if you have marketing degree, you would be great for this sales position. They are both one in the same right? If I had a dime for every online job labeled ‘marketing’, that was really a sales position, I would be retired.

If I had a dime for every online job labeled ‘marketing’, that was really a sales position I would be retired.

Click to tweet

Now make no mistake, these two things are very important to business. They should definitely work together in business. The fact that they don’t still baffles me. They complement each other while holding their very own traits! They are very different, but those difference are great for supporting each other! Creating higher profits, more brand recognition and so many great things! So what is the difference? Why does it matter?


Simply put, sales people are closers. They close the sale, they get the yes. Sales people work one on one with the customer. Sales representatives have excellent interpersonal and customer service skills. They are great negotiators and excel at handling customer objections. A good rep knows the products like the back of their hand, and is typically a go to for the customer. A good sales person is gold to a company. They perform a vital role within any company. It is a fearless and rewarding position, but not everyone is cut out for it. I like this article from Entrepreneur that shows a few characteristics of a great sales rep. The 15 Characteristics of People Who Succeed at Sales


A good Marketing representative or manager looks at the big picture, and the details. They look at the brand and how it is represented to its target market. But, they also look at trends and research the numbers. Marketing managers are responsible for ensuring that advertisements are posted at the right time via the right channels for maximum exposure by the target market. They have to be creative and have a good sense of psychology. They need to know what makes the customer tick, what makes customers want product x, y, or z. Marketing representative are up to date on the competition. A good marketing representative is observing what is and isn’t working for them, and molding the perception of the brand accordingly. Chron suggests a few more traits for good marketing representatives here

How do sales and marketing work together?

In a perfect world these two departments would be in communication, working together, increasing ROI and profits. Often times these two departments don’t even talk! Ideally, the marketing department supports the sales staff by providing them with leads. Then the sales department turns those leads into customers! The marketing department can provide valuable feed back to the sales team about how the brand is represented to the public, and information about the target market. The sales staff can provide information to the marketing department based on one on one customer feedback. This allows the marketing department to adjust strategies to better reach the target market, and provide more leads to the sales staff. Doesn’t that sounds great! Good companies do this. Not every company knows how to do this.

Example: of why they should work together…

Big car company had an OK marketing staff, they created good material to support the staff, but didn’t want to talk with them. So, trying to get them to change an online promotion to simply be accurate was a pain. Why did it matter? The sales staff knew first hand that the customers were getting inaccurate information regarding a promotion online. The sales staff then had to tell the angry customer that this promotion they were seeing was inaccurate.

The result

The customer is mad, and wondering why there is inaccurate information on line. They don’t want to come back to big car company. The company looks disorganized (it was) and a bit incompetent (it was in that department). The brand suffers due to this. Customer perception is now ‘big car company doesn’t have its act together’. They can’t even post the right promotion! Now, had these two departments been talking, this problem could have been eliminated.

Why these differences matter?

Its a matter of the right job for the right person. People who thrive at looking at the big picture and reaching the target market via creative advertisements, would be better in marketing. Employees who thrive on working with people and gets a ‘high’ from making the sale, would be better in sales. A person motivated by commissions would be better in sales. Trying to put a round peg in a square hole doesn’t do anyone any good. Yet, so many companies try to do that regularly!

Some job descriptions are very inaccurate…

If I could get paid to expose bad inaccurate job descriptions for a dime a piece, I really would be rich. So many people will will try to call sales jobs marketing jobs. I’m looking at one ad for a marketing associate for a pretty large company. It states that the applicant needs to be able to ‘suggestively sell excess inventory’. Another company has a marketing coordinator position stating the applicant must be good at ‘selling, with out feeling sold’. ( I had to change a few words to avoid plagiarizing but you get the point.)

Why is this the case?

Frankly, calling the job a marketing position makes the job sounds more glamorous and appealing. Some people find sales positions to be slimy. They don’t like the idea of pressuring people to buy product. So, you call it a marketing position in an attempt to woo the marketers. However, if they do take the job they are disgruntled because this is not what they want to do, and they quit.  You are back to square one. So, how do you get around this obstacle? Finding a good sales person can be tough!

What can I do to hire a good salesperson?

You use marketing to recruit for your sales position! It’s a job for sales respect your applicants and call it what it is. Know your audience, salespeople! What motivates the typical sales person? From my experience, its money and perks. Talk about commissions, talk about perks. Sales people are extroverted and social by nature, talk about the fun culture! Talk about climbing the ladder, talk about how they can move up! Calling a sales position ‘marketing’ does not help you fill that job.

I hope this has helped you gain a little more knowledge of these two seeming similar, but very different fields. If you struggle like I did trying to get into marketing, and only finding sales jobs I feel ya! It will get better 🙂

Welcome to My Career Journey! I use my very unique career path to help you grow your business and career!
I’ve lived in seven different states over the past ten years. That’s a lot of jobs! Different industries, and different work cultures! Both good and bad 🙂
Thank you so much for stopping by. I look forward to helping you grow!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *