Marketing and sales are both aimed at increasing revenue. They are so closely intertwined that people often don’t realize the difference between the two. Indeed, in small organizations, the same people typically perform both sales and marketing tasks. Nevertheless, marketing is different from sales and as the organization grows, the roles and responsibilities become more specialized.
|Definition||Marketing is the systematic planning, implementation and control of business activities to bring together buyers and sellers.||A sale a transaction between two parties where the buyer receives goods (tangible or intangible), services and/or assets in exchange for money.|
|Approach||Broader range of activities to sell product/service, client relationship etc.; determine future needs and has a strategy in place to meet those needs for the long term relationship.||Make customer demand match the products the company currently offers.|
|Focus||Overall picture to promote, distribute, price products/services; fulfill customer's wants and needs through products and/or services the company can offer.||Fulfill sales volume objectives|
|Process||Analysis of market, distribution channels, competitive products and services; Pricing strategies; Sales tracking and market share analysis; Budget||Usually one to one|
|Scope||Market research; Advertising; Sales; Public relations; Customer service and satisfaction .||Once a product has been created for a customer need, persuade the customer to purchase the product to fulfill her needs|
|Horizon||Longer term||Short term|
|Priority||Marketing shows how to reach to the Customers and build long lasting relationship||Selling is the ultimate result of marketing.|
|Identity||Marketing targets the construction of a brand identity so that it becomes easily associated with need fulfillment.||Sales is the strategy of meeting needs in an opportunistic, individual method, driven by human interaction. There's no premise of brand identity, longevity or continuity. It's simply the ability to meet a need at the right time.|
Sales vs Marketing Activities
The typical goal of marketing is to generate interest in the product and create leads or prospects. Marketing activities include:
- consumer research to identify the needs of the customers
- product development – designing innovative products to meet existing or latent needs
- advertising the products to raise awareness and build the brand.
- pricing products and services to maximize long-term revenue.
On the other hand, sales activities are focused on converting prospects to actual paying customers. Sales involves directly interacting with the prospects to persuade them to purchase the product.
Marketing thus tends to focus on the general population (or, in any case, a large set of people) whereas sales tends to focus on individuals or a small group of prospects.
Advice for startups
Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Jessica Livingston, a partner at startup accelerator Y Combinator, advised startups to focus on sales. Specifically, recruiting early users of their product and getting them to become paying customers:
At Y Combinator, we advise most startups to begin by seeking out some core group of early adopters and then engaging with individual users to convince them to sign up.
I suspect from my experience that founders who want to remain in denial about the inadequacy of their product and/or the difficulty of starting a startup subconsciously prefer the broad and shallow “marketing” approach precisely because they can’t face the work and unpleasant truths they’ll find if they talk to users.
Our advice at Y Combinator is always to make a really good product and go out and get users manually. The two work hand-in-hand: you need to talk individually to early adopters to make a really good product. So focusing on the narrow and deep end of the sales/marketing continuum is not just the most effective way to get users. Your startup will die if you don’t.