What Comes First: Sales or Marketing?

Sales and marketing. Marketing and sales. Chicken. Egg… Which comes first? Are they even separate things?

While sales and marketing are often grouped together in one role, particularly in smaller organizations, they are actually very different business functions that require different skill sets. There are a million ways to define marketing, but at its core it can be defined as promoting a product or service to a targeted audience. Sales, on the other hand, can be defined as the exchange of money for a product or service.

Even though sales and marketing should be looked at as two separate functions, they need to work together to ensure the success of a business. Marketing leads to the sales process much like the passing of a baton in a relay race. Even though each leg of the race is run by an individual, all individuals are needed to win the race, and they all have to work together to do it.

Here are all the differences you need to know between sales and marketing:

Brand vs. Customer

Marketing focuses on market positioning, brand development, and telling the story. While this is based on careful research of customer behaviours, the focus in on the brand. Sales will focus more specifically on the customer because they are looking to persuade them to complete a purchase.

Needs vs. Persuasion

Marketing is all about identifying and filling customer wants and needs by showcasing the product and benefits, while sales is about persuading customers to buy into the benefits that you can provide. A sales team will use research and materials provided by marketing professionals as tools to help with customer conversions (purchases).

Evolution vs. Static History

Even though channels might change, sales in itself hasn’t really evolved since the door to door salesman. Marketing is constantly changing to meet target audience needs when it comes to communication channels, the types of message, and values and ethics. It used to be more of a one way announcement of information, now, with the introduction of new technologies, marketing is designed to create dialogue that will more easily feed into the sales funnel.

Relationships vs. Transactions

A sales person will focus on building lucrative relationships with clients and prospects, however, the focus is still on the transactional aspect of the strategy. Marketing is purely relationship-driven, building communities on and offline, building loyalty, creating brand ambassadors, etc. Because of the transactional nature of sales, sales people are more quota and objective-driven. That’s not to say that marketing departments won’t have overall objectives, but sales-related objectives will be different than those of the marketing strategy.

Groups vs. Individuals

While personalization is creeping more and more into marketing strategies, the overall strategy is still focused on groups of people – the intended target audience. These audiences are identified and segmented based on research. A sales transaction is generally focused on an individual person and the exchange of money for goods/services.

Differences don’t mean separate. In the case of sales and marketing, they have to work together. Marketing generates interest, which creates leads – sales then takes those leads to convert to paying customers

How do your sales and marketing strategies work together?



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