Marketing vs Sales: Understanding the 5 key differences for business success
For many brands and organizations, the end goal is to sell. And while the objective is clear — the path to get there can often be confused as to what falls under marketing, and what is considered sales.
Conversions can be defined as driving leads or email subscriptions, but at the bottom of that funnel, it tends to be some form of transaction — whether it’s the checkout button on an e-commerce platform or making actual purchases in-store.
With 81% of customers researching online before deciding to make a purchase, it makes sense that consumers want to get to know the business before spending money into it.
As such, marketing and sales are two very important functions for a brand. Although they are often used interchangeably, neglected, or confused with one another, both serve distinct roles and have different objectives.
Let’s start to break down the differences between marketing and sales.
What is marketing?
According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), marketing is “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, exchanging offerings that have value for customers.”
Its primary goal is to generate interest and awareness about a product or service among potential customers.
Some examples of marketing initiatives include:
- Market research
- Social media marketing
- Public relations
What is sales?
Sales, on the other hand, is the process of converting potential customers into paying customers.
Sales include a range of tactics, such as:
- Lead generation
- Closing deals
With the goal of generating revenue and achieving sales targets, salespeople use their skills and knowledge to persuade potential customers to buy a product or service.
Key differences between marketing and sales:
Marketing at the top of the funnel aims to build awareness about a product or service among a wide audience who have not engaged with the business. Generally speaking, audiences need an average of 8 touchpoints before taking some form of action.
Meanwhile, sales focuses on the bottom-of-the-funnel, ensuring potential customers go through with their purchase.
Before any transaction is made, marketing efforts need to come first. Why? The audience first needs to know where to discover a brand, and how to interact with them – whether that’s through an online website, social media, or a physical store.
From paid influencers to emails to press releases — marketing campaigns are a great tool for brands to determine how well they are at reaching and engaging potential customers. The sales team can follow up on these audience segments, and consequently convert into sales.
Sales methods usually involve engaging with new customers directly. This may be through one-on-one contact such as phone call, email, in-person meetings, or conferences. However, e-commerce platforms make the process more efficient, with tailored checkout options, and minimizing interactions.
Marketing is primarily driven through cross-platform implementation and consists of a variety of strategies and initiatives including, search engine optimization (SEO), social media ads, influencer marketing, blogs, and more.
It is crucial to understand that both marketing and sales foster different relationships with potential customers.
Marketing is a long-term and continuous process that involves gaining the consumer’s trust over time while adapting to the ever-changing market. On the other hand, closing deals and generating revenue in the short term is a priority for sales teams to meet the company’s needs.
As both align, marketing and sales work together to retaining customers, which has proven to be much more cost effective than constantly looking for new customers. It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one.
To build brand loyalty and relationships with customers, utilize email newsletters, social media, and loyalty programs.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are measurable metrics that businesses use to track performance.
Engagement rate, click-through rate, and video views are a few examples of metrics used in content marketing which measure the effectiveness of published content. Sales success is measured by metrics such as revenue, conversion rates, and customer acquisition costs.
Marketing and sales are two different components within a business with its own goals and approaches — one to attract customers and the other to convert customers. But both ultimately work in tandem and are essential to achieve the company’s goals.
To do this effectively, a deep integration between marketing and sales is needed.
At Sageus Strategy + Digital, we help you reach a larger cultural audience locally and globally, through multiple marketing strategies so you can increase your brand awareness and expand your customer base.
With more than two decades of combined experiences working alongside global brands and organizations, Sageus Strategy + Digital focuses on getting to know your business, and help you connect with your audience.
Headquartered in Canada, and committed to making a global, cross-cultural, sustainable impact — we’re your one-stop firm for cultivation and growth, in all areas of branding and marketing.
Connect with us at sageuscollective.com/connect and learn more about what we do! Stay tuned for our next blog post, and follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, or Facebook — so you won’t miss out on any updates from our Sageus Strategy + Digital Team.