IS there a difference between sales and marketing? A question for the ages; just like, “Do Canada Geese really fly south for the winter? Yes. There is a major difference between sales and marketing (and “yes”, Canada Geese DO fly south in the winter!)
The problem is, this debate is always overshadowed by egos! So, marketing people want to believe THEY are more important and of course, sales people always think they are the most important! :- )
The truth is if there is ever a need for two disciplines to work together for the sake of the success of a business, it is these two. Marketing and sales strategies DRIVE the business’s growth. They are so intertwined, yet, so different in how they execute and behave. Let me explain…
I’m an event organizer; I host parties for Gen-Xers! This spring, I am going to host a huge party! I am going to have the best music, the best food, and the best drinks and host it at the best facility. So, I create some flyers describing my party as “the best party in town”; I post them up in High Schools and Senior’s Homes. And so, the date quickly approaches and there I am, with only a few people in attendance, I’m offering them Zooks Candy, stirring up some Fuzzy Navel’s and dancing to Madonna’s “Holiday”. No one really wants to talk to me as I explain to them the other great “Retro” Party’s I’m planning in the coming months. Not long into this party, [queue the crickets], I’m the only one left.
What went wrong? I KNOW I have the best music, the best food, and the best drinks and that I hosted the party at the best facility for Gen-Xers. Why didn’t they appreciate it? It’s because High School Students (Gen-Yers) and Seniors (Baby Boomers) don’t appreciate and find value in Zooks, Fuzzy Navel’s and Madonna. So, I attracted the wrong people to this party and as a result, I didn’t even get a chance to tell them about my future parties (sell to them) because they just weren’t interested.
The Difference Between Marketing and Sales
Here is a very clear difference between marketing and sales. The marketing failed and so, as a result, sales failed (i.e even those in attendance didn’t want to hear anything about my upcoming events). How did the marketing fail? Most importantly, the target market /audience was not clearly and specifically identified (the job of marketing). The message was not focused enough to suggest it was a “Retro Party” and so it didn’t resonate with the intended audience (the job of marketing). The marketing channels (where I distributed my flyers) were not anywhere close to where my target audience is “living and breathing” (the job of marketing). Whatever time and money I spent on informing people was wasted. Those in attendance that I tried speak to, were not at all interested in what I had to say about my upcoming events (the job of sales) and so, all the features of my party that I thought were great, didn’t make any sense to them. I couldn’t reinforce the message of the “best party in town” because to them, this party stinks!
The difference between marketing and sales is that marketing oversees the brand, the message, the creativity everything associated with TELLING people the specific value you can give them; I can throw the “best party in town” but if people, the right people, don’t know about it, then my party does not have a chance to succeed. Marketing is meant to attract attention.
Sales ensures that whatever marketing promises, is what is delivered; sales oversees the actual product and reinforces, the “promise”. Sales is meant to cultivate and educate the prospects (those who were attracted by marketing).
If marketing brings in the right people, and sales reinforces what marketing promised, then marketing can “recycle” that experience, that delivery of a promise and continue to create another message to start the process all over again.
The difference between marketing sales is really in their core objective; marketing attracts potential customers and Sales engages them, ultimately, delivering the brand promise. They are complementary and intertwined tasks but each has its techniques and tools to achieve their objectives.
Keep in mind that successful companies recognized that Sales is NOT independent of marketing. A successful company will often have VP of Marketing who is responsible for Sales as opposed to a VP of Sales and Marketing which creates an unhealthy distinction between sales people and the rest of the team.
The difference between a Fuzzy Navel and a Cherry Bomb? They are both alcoholic beverages but a Gen-Xer probably won’t know what a Cherry-Bomb is and a Gen-Yer probably won’t know what a Fuzzy Navel is. Identify the target market clearly, cater your message to them; selling becomes easier.