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When you know the difference between sales and marketing, you know how they can support each other to create a successful business. — Getty Images/ fizkes

Many people lump sales and marketing together in the same category, but the two processes are largely independent of each other. In the simplest of terms, marketing is building awareness of your organization and brand to potential customers. Sales is turning that viewership into a profit, by converting those potential customers into actual ones. To dive deeper into the difference between sales and marketing, here are some key takeaways.

Sales versus marketing


The marketing process is focused on familiarizing your brand and product with new customers or refamiliarizing it with former ones. Organizations who are coming up with new ways to market themselves need to clearly explain what their product or service is, how it solves an issue for the consumer and its price points. From there, the marketing team needs to determine who is most likely interested in this product or service and where they can find them.

The process for sales includes creating a plan that outlines an organization's actions, tools, resources and overall sales goals. A sales team is most interested in converting those who have some awareness of the brand into customers to earn a profit. They interact with customers and answer their questions to provide relevant information about the product or service.

[Read: What is the Sales Process?]


A business's marketing goals are to promote its product, company or brand with clear communication. The primary objective is to look at the big picture and clearly explain how the product or service benefits the widest audience possible, generating potential leads.

A sales team marks their goals based on quotas and volume goals. These tend to be based on a short-term period of time, typically based around the financial quarter or month. Goals and targets are determined by how much the business needs to sell in order to generate enough profit to continue to be operational.

Management must, however, make both teams clear about their position in the market.


Marketing strategies tend to be based on gathering information about their targeted audience to see what does and does not work. Once the marketing team knows who they're trying to target with a certain campaign, they can test out strategies. The most popular forms of marketing strategies include internet marketing, print marketing, blog marketing and focus groups.

Sales strategies are based on connecting with potential customers, talking and listening to them, then converting them into paying customers. A salesperson will typically first contact a prospect through a phone call, at a networking event or online. Then, depending on the scope of the product or service, they will pitch to them in hopes of getting their sale.


The prospects for marketing are larger than those for sales, since they're trying to determine a target audience and create awareness. Those in marketing want to obtain new prospects, while the sales department wants to leverage connections with known prospects and existing clientele.

Integrating sales and marketing

While their primary goals are different, sales and marketing overlap in many ways, and should work together. They can align their interests by forming a partnership and sharing any overlapping materials. One way to do this for bigger companies is to create a service-level agreement (SLA). This is an agreement between two departments stating a set of deliverables that one department agrees to provide the other. It helps build partnerships between teams and clearly outlines what is expected between the two.

For smaller businesses, this may not be necessary. Management must, however, make both teams clear about their position in the market. The marketing team should inform the sales team when they are running campaigns so the sales team can maximize their efforts during those times. Similarly, the sales team should share any customer data they have with the marketing team, so they know the target audience’s demographics, as well as what efforts have and have not been successful.

[Read: How Email Marketing Can Boost E-Commerce Sales]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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