Becoming Professional: A Blog

5 Differences Between Sales and Marketing

Posted on: July 30, 2010

"Sales versus Marketing" "The difference between sales and marketing"

by timparkinson

I am in Marketing. Nameless recruiters: Please stop contacting me for sales jobs. My degree states “Marketing.” My experience is mostly in “Marketing.” Why are you contacting me about a position selling windshields?

Phone calls from prospective employers or even requests for help from folk I’m just chatting with have a tendency to all lean in the same direction: “I make thingamajigs. Could you ‘market’ them for me? I’ll give you 5% of each thingamajig I sell thanks to your efforts.” On the very surface (and I mean extremely surface level, here) that sounds okay. I’m being offered a job, after all. Money’s nice.

And then I realize, there’s another name for that pay scale: Commission. There’s nothing wrong with commission, but that’s what salespeople get. I’ve worked with a few salespeople. I like them. They tend to be personable, smart, and dedicated individuals. I respect what they do. I do not do it. I do marketing, thank you.

What is the difference? Here’s a list of five differences that should give you the gist. I hope this list helps people looking for positions figure out what they are actually looking for, and small business owners to figure out who they need to hire.

  1. Sales is 1:1. Marketing is 1:many. Even with social media marketing, it is 1:1:many. That means that even though I may be replying to a single person on Facebook, it is a public reply and other people are watching. What I say will influence that one person, but it will also influence all those silent watchers… who may choose not to be silent and jump in themselves.
  2. Sales is relationship driven. Marketing is data driven. Marketers analyze data and do tests, like A/B testing with ads. We analyze website analytics and public behavior. Salespeople analyze the behavior of a limited group of people, the sales prospects whom they can deal with on an individual basis. Sure, Marketers also focus on groups, but our target audiences are way too big to contact individually. You try contacting all American women between 25 and 50, who’ve graduated from college, and have two kids. Yeah, I thought so.
  3. Salespeople don’t develop products. Marketers do. Marketing is more than just convincing people to buy. Marketing is also researching what a target population desires and then turning those desires into a product that can be sold. Salespeople work with the prospect to figure out which of the available products is best for her, yes, but they don’t develop products from scratch.
  4. Sales is very track-able. Marketing is not. If a sales guy makes a sale, he knows. Marketers don’t get that instant gratification. If a person comes in because she saw an ad, she might not even know it herself. She may think she was just walking down the street and was thirsty. I’ve heard it said that you have to be in front of a person 3 times before she buys. Does she remember the first time? Did she consciously notice it?
  5. Sales is about sales. Marketing is about more than sales. Salespeople sell. That is what they do and part of the reason they make commission. You want a salesman to focus on selling. Marketers do more than sell. We manage reputations. Coca-Cola’s brand was worth $68.73 billion in 2009. It’s hard to say how much a single marketing action affects a brand’s image, but you can feel it when the marketing’s not there. Marketers get paid salary because their value is in more than driving sales, so rewarding them based on just sales doesn’t fit.

2 Responses to "5 Differences Between Sales and Marketing"

Good one! I agree! Thank you for your post. I’m tired of explaining it to people as well.

[…] confused. They are not the same thing. My friend, Kate Davids @katedavids , writes about that here: 5 Differences Between Sales and Marketing. This was written nearly a year ago, and not much has changed. People still try to recruit marketers […]

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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog ( and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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