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Marketing and Sales

Marketing and Sales

The difference between Sales and Marketing is that Marketing owns the message, and Sales owns the relationship.

- John Jantsch

You might have wondered, "What's the difference between marketing and sales? Don't both of them just try to sell products to consumers?". Although marketing and sales have very close ties, their organizational roles and strategies can differ. Even though the sales team follows the overall marketing strategy set by marketers, they use their own techniques and tactics to achieve their objectives. Read along to find out how!

Sales and Marketing Techniques

Before we dive into more detail about the relationship between marketing and sales, let's first examine the nature of both concepts.

Simply put, sales is the act of selling a good or service, and marketing is the act of promoting a product.

Of course, in reality, marketing and sales are much more complicated and involve various tasks that lead to the final sale of a product. Sales go beyond cold-calling customers, and marketing goes beyond creating advertisements.

As a result, to achieve synergy between sales and marketing, the business must pay close attention to various strategies and stakeholders, including its sales force. A company's salesforce is crucial, especially in business-to-business (B2B) and service marketing environments.

Check out our marketing services and B2B marketing explanations to learn more about the importance of salespeople in the marketing context.

The salesforce is frequently the first point of contact customers have with a business and, as a result, acts as the face of the company. Therefore, some of the marketing and sales techniques and skills salespeople must be familiar with and excel at include:

  • Problem-solving: providing a solution to the customer's problem. Problem-solving is essential in B2B environments.

  • Adding value: recognizing customer pain points and providing feedback to the firm to add value to products and satisfy customer needs.

  • Marketing or advertising the product: the salesperson should know how to market the product beyond just calling the customer to explain its benefits. The salesperson should know how to present, manage databases, create webinars, etc., to persuade the customer to purchase the product.

  • Need recognition: recognize that customers may have needs they are unaware of. For instance, the salesperson might be selling a new product or system the customer didn't even know existed. As a result, the salesforce must be able to handle these situations with care.

  • Customer relationship management (CRM): The salesforce should recognize that closing a sale does not signify the end of their relationship with the customer. Building long-lasting customer relationships are the primary objective of many marketing and sales strategies. As a result, the salesperson must be familiar with customer retention tactics.

Sales and Marketing Difference

Let's now turn our attention to a mini business history lesson. The difference between marketing and sales can partially be traced to the various eras of marketing. Over the past decade, business orientation has developed as follows (see Figure 1 below):

  1. Product/Production - Originally, businesses focused predominantly on the product they were selling. Mass production objectives can characterize the product era. This approach involved producing as much as possible (increasing production output), taking advantage of economies of scale that result from high production levels, and maintaining operational efficiency in terms of production. The idea was that customer demand will always persist for standard products, so businesses should aim to maximize supply and provide these products at low prices.

  2. Sales - As a result of the product-focus era, new competitors started entering the market as they realized that they could also produce similar products on a large scale. Thus, the rivalry intensified, and companies began focusing on sales. This new era followed the idea that customers would be hesitant to buy new products without sales, especially due to the wide range of products available on the market. Therefore, companies pushed for various hard-selling techniques to entice customers to buy a product.

    The sales era and its many dishonest hard-sell techniques gave rise to the stereotypical image many of us still have of salespeople. For example, bribing company reps with luxury watches or extravagant vacations to buy your product was essentially invented during this era.

  3. Marketing - This is the final era we are most likely familiar with. Here, the emphasis is on understanding customer wants and needs and creating products to satisfy them. Production stems from customers rather than from the company. This approach also focuses on building long-term customer relationships by researching customer behaviors and attitudes and analyzing the impacts of marketing efforts.

Although the marketing and sales eras have their fundamental differences, they are much more closely related nowadays. Marketing plays a huge role in sales and vice versa. Let's now take a look at this relationship in further detail.

Relationship between Marketing and Sales

Due to the nature of marketing and sales activities, the two are closely related. Firstly, the marketing process and the 4Ps of the marketing mix also apply to sales.

Check out our explanation of the marketing mix to learn more about the 4Ps of marketing.

Similarly to marketing, the sales process also involves market segmentation, targeting, and positioning to ensure that the business targets profitable customer groups. Additionally, sales teams must familiarize themselves with the 4Ps (product, price, promotion, and place) to ensure that they are selling customers the product they need, at fair prices, through the channel that suits them best. As a result, marketing strategies have a significant impact on sales.

A further connection between marketing and sales is the ultimate drive to build long-term customer relationships. Nowadays, businesses invest significantly in CRM. While marketers use promotions and various communications techniques to inform and retain customers, sales use similar offers and account management techniques to build long-lasting customer relationships.

Another similarity between the two is that salespeople must understand how to create and add customer value, recognize customer needs, advertise the product, etc., just in a slightly different way from marketers. Therefore the boundary between the two is not clear cut as sales and marketing rely on each other to achieve overall corporate and business goals.

We may also examine the relationship between marketing and sales through personal selling. As you may already know, personal selling is one of the marketing techniques that makes up the promotion mix. However, without an effective sales team, marketers can count personal selling out of their promotional toolbox. Therefore, the two must work together to guide customers through the purchase journey.

Try our explanations of promotion mix and personal selling to find out more.

Marketing and Sales Example

Now that we understand the general idea of marketing and sales let's look at a few examples.

For example, the organizational communication platform Slack markets its product partially through its user-friendly website. The website outlines the product's functionalities, presents well-known partner success stories, and provides webinars for interested customers. The website then puts interested customers in direct contact with their own sales team in case they want to find out more information.1 Although the website is a marketing media tool used to engage customers and promote the product; sales play a huge role in acquiring new customers, showing how the two functions work together to form profitable customer relationships.

We may also observe another marketing and sales example through Wix.

Wix is a website-building tool that allows anyone to build a website in a few simple steps. The company offers different templates, tools, and support to facilitate the customer journey. Wix offers a variety of pricing plans for its customers, including a basic, a VIP, an eCommerce, an enterprise plan, and many more. The company is currently also offering 10% discounts on annual plans and 50% student discounts on premium plans.2 As a result, marketing and sales work together to come up with pricing strategies, sales promotions, and discounts to entice customers to purchase now.

Marketing and Sales Strategy

The marketing and sales strategy begins with the marketing and sales planning process. For sales to be effective, the firm must develop a strategic marketing plan. This ensures that sales function cohesively with marketing activities.

Sales planning involves determining sales activities that complement the overall marketing strategy.

The sales planning process is as follows (see Figure 2 below):

  1. Determine objectives,

  2. Define the activities needed to achieve set objectives,

  3. Evaluate resources,

  4. Implement the strategy,

  5. Assess results,

  6. Evaluation and control.

The firm must also define its marketing plan in conjunction with the sales planning process. This process includes ensuring that marketing objectives are aligned with corporate objectives and the overall mission and analyzing the internal and external environment (including competitor analysis).

Check out our explanation of competitor analysis to learn more about the business environment.

Once these marketing analyses have been conducted, it is time to focus on the sales strategy and generate a sales forecast. An example of a sales strategy may be described as follows:

  1. Segmentation and targeting - To align with marketing strategy, sales must also understand which customers to target with their efforts. Selecting and targeting the correct customer segments will ensure higher sales revenues.

  2. Pricing - Pricing plays a huge role in sales. The sales team might implement promotions or offer discounts to large-scale buyers, in line with marketing's pricing and promotion strategies. The sales team can also provide feedback to marketing about customers' pricing and value for money perceptions.

  3. Customer retention - In line with marketing strategies, sales also focuses on customer retention as it is easier to retain customers than find new ones. Following a customer retention strategy, sales work with marketing to determine customer pain points and assess the critical customer relationship stages. Sales and marketing also work together to understand acquisition costs, manage the customer purchase journey, and create customer relationships.

Together, marketing and sales strategies ensure that the right customers are targeted and that the company or brand forms longstanding profitable relationships with all its customers.

Marketing and Sales - Key takeaways

  • Sales is the act of selling a good or service, and marketing is the act of promoting a product.
  • The salesforce is oftentimes the first point of contact customers have with a business and, as a result, acts as the face of the company.
  • Marketing and sales aim to understand customer wants and needs and create longstanding profitable relationships with customers.
  • Sales and marketing rely on each other to achieve overall corporate and business goals.
  • Sales planning involves determining sales activities that complement the overall marketing strategy.
  • The sales planning process: determine objectives, define the activities needed to achieve set objectives, evaluate resources, implement the strategy, assess results, evaluation, and control.

References

  1. Slack. Solutions, Slack for Sales Teams. 2022. https://slack.com/intl/en-gb/solutions/sales
  2. Forbes. Wix Promo Codes September 2022. 2022. https://www.forbes.com/coupons/wix.com/

Frequently Asked Questions about Marketing and Sales

Put simply, sales is the act of selling a good or service, and marketing is the act of promoting a product. Of course, in reality, marketing and sales are much more complicated, but both are important as they cohesively lead to the final sale of a product.

Due to the nature of marketing and sales activities, the two are closely related. The marketing process and the 4Ps of the marketing mix also apply to sales. Similarly to marketing, the sales process also involves market segmentation, targeting, and positioning to ensure that the business targets profitable customer groups. Ultimately, sales and marketing work together to build long-term profitable customer relationships. 

There is no simple answer to whether sales or marketing come first. Sales follow overall marketing strategies but the two functions work together to achieve overall marketing and corporate goals. 

Sales need marketing as the two functions work together. Both marketing and sales work by segmenting customers to find the appropriate group to target and thus build long-standing relationships with customers. 

A sales and marketing example can be observed through the company Slack. Slack uses its website as a marketing media tool to engage customers and promote its product. However, the website also puts customers in direct contact with its sales team to guide them through the customer purchase journey. 

Final Marketing and Sales Quiz

Question

Simply put, sales is the act of _____ a good or service, and marketing is the act of ______ a product.



Show answer

Answer

selling, promoting

Show question

Question

A company's salesforce is crucial, especially in ________ and ______ marketing environments.

Show answer

Answer

B2B

Show question

Question

The ________ is frequently the first point of contact customers have with a business and, as a result, acts as the face of the company.

Show answer

Answer

salesforce

Show question

Question

Problem-solving is essential in B2B environments.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Recognizing customer pain points and providing feedback to the firm to add value to products and satisfy customer needs is (a) _________.

Show answer

Answer

marketing function

Show question

Question

The salesperson's role does not stretch beyond calling a customer and explaining product benefits. 

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

Closing a sale signifies the end of the relationship with the customer.

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

What are the three primary eras of marketing?

Show answer

Answer

1. Product/production

2. Sales

3. Marketing

Show question

Question

While marketers use promotions and various communications techniques to inform and retain customers, sales use similar offers and account management techniques to build long-lasting customer relationships. 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Salespeople must understand how to create and add customer value, recognize customer needs, and advertise the product.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

_________ involves determining sales activities that complement the overall marketing strategy.

Show answer

Answer

Sales planning

Show question

Question

What are the six steps of the sales planning process?

Show answer

Answer

  1. Determine objectives,

  2. Define the activities needed to achieve set objectives, 

  3. Evaluate resources, 

  4. Implement the strategy,

  5. Assess results, 

  6. Evaluation and control. 

Show question

Question

Generally, it is easier to retain customers than find new ones. 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

"The emphasis is on understanding customer wants and needs and creating products to satisfy them." 


Which era is characterized by this statement?

Show answer

Answer

Marketing

Show question

Question

"Customer demand will always persist for standard products, so businesses should aim to maximize supply and provide these products at low prices." 


Which era is characterized by this statement?

Show answer

Answer

Product/Production

Show question

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