Is Marketing and Sales the Same? Abhishek Sareen, a marketing professional with over 16 years of experience explains what each of these roles are, and their differences.
Marketing and Sales are the most confused and tangled roles in the corporate world. This confusion or rather lack of distinction is not only among individuals but also among companies. Most companies club these departments.
One of the reasons behind this is that being in sales is not considered fashionable and doesn’t sound cool. Nobody wants to say they are in sales or are a salesman, everybody likes to say they are in marketing. Marketing is a very broad term, and most people don’t understand what a marketing role really is. Thus when a person says he or she is in marketing, one doesn’t get a clear picture of what their role in a company is.
Most Indian companies, as well as international ones, value people who bring in sales orders and drive revenue for their company over every other department’s employee. Thus what happens in top management is that VP sales has a higher say compared to VP marketing. Before I dwell further, let’s understand the basic difference between sales and marketing function.
What is Sales?
The primary role of a sales department of a company is to drive revenue by generating sales orders, ensuring the product or service is delivered and money is brought in the bank account according to terms of sales. This may sound simple but, in reality, it is a complex process.
What is Marketing?
Marketing departments primarily consist of experienced professionals who enable the sales department to achieve their targets. A marketing department has a long-term view of a company’s sales targets. A marketing department engages with functions like design, production, finance, customer service etc. in order to create and improvise a product or service that will generate sales in short and long term.
A marketing department is responsible for generating demand by creating a product by hearing the feedback of their end-customers and sales team to create a product or service that delivers value to the customer.
Marketing vs. Sales Roles in Different Types of Companies
A marketing department is very relevant in B2C (Business to Consumer) industry where the product or service is meant to be sold to the end-consumer directly. For example, a car brand or shampoo brand has a product that serves the end customer. In companies like these, marketing and sales functions are distinct and very clearly defined.
In B2C companies, marketing department is like the brain of an organization. They coordinate the product strategy and have to engage with all different departments like product development, finance, sales and production to deliver the best possible products or services, with a long term view of company’s market performance. They also have to coordinate with third party agencies like media agencies or creative agencies to promote the product.
In a B2B (Business to Business) organization, the sales department needs to engage with limited number of customers, as compared to a B2C organization. In B2B companies, marketing and sales functions are closely linked, and sales professionals often play both the roles. Here, the marketing role is focused towards new product development, participating in trade shows, technical catalogue developments, engaging with customers to create tailored solutions and even analyzing competition and market, etc.
Difference Between Marketing and Sales
The simplest way to define marketing responsibilities is by the 4 P’s i.e. Product, Price, Place and Promotion. To summarize:
Product: Understanding the customer needs to create a product or service that delivers value.
Price: Ensuring that the pricing is right based on the demand & supply.
Place: Deciding where and whom to sell it to.
Promotion: Communicating the value proposition to customer.
You can read about these in detail here: Marketing Career Path.
Sales function, on the other hand, focuses on creating and managing the distribution channels and smooth functioning of sales transaction, i.e. forecasting, order flow generation, timely servicing of customers, revenue collections and optimal utilization of production capacity.
While many companies may consider marketing and sales the same, the truth is these are two very different roles. With a long term view of the brand, marketing professionals coordinate with different departments to plan and create a good product and communicate its value to potential customers. Whereas sales professionals are responsible for managing the sales order flow cycle and drive revenue for the company.
Abhishek Sareen is a marketing professional with over 16 years of experience. He started his career as a management consultant and currently works in international business. He has set up businesses like Track & Trail, BrooksBicycles.com and created consumer brands like Montra, Machcity and Roadeo. He’s is a passionate cyclist and participated in several endurance competitive events like MTB Himalaya. His interests are in behavioral psychology, economics and chess. He is a graduate in Computer Science and an MBA in Marketing. He completed his executive education from IIM-A in 2016 focusing on business strategy.