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The Marketing and Sales Paradox

What is the difference between Sales and Marketing?

Marketing and sales–the two words are often used interchangeably, even though they fulfill two extremely different needs. Marketing is not just about selling. Anyone who believes that marketing is just selling, is incorrect. In fact, selling is just a fraction of marketing. Some companies believe a marketing individual should just bring in leads and that is all they are good for but that is not how it works. To put it simply, “marketing includes setting up the groundwork for the sales process. That further involves drawing leads and prospects to your business. Sales, on the other hand, consists in closing the deal.

Setting up the groundwork for sales is a huge undertaking and can often be misunderstood when analyzing the journey a lead takes through the sales pipeline. When it comes to understanding who “sealed the deal,” it’s safe to say that it is a harmonious effort between marketing and sales. The two play a different role but both work toward the same goal.

Let’s take a closer look at the difference….

According to an article by Forbes, “Marketing is the culmination of all activities that set the stage for sales (e.g., the transaction itself) to take place. It is the marketer who establishes a brand and maintains its reputation in the eyes of others. Marketers engage customers and clients (prospective and current), raising the profile of a brand so that it attracts the “right” people — those most likely to make a purchase.”

“While marketing is tied to the customer or the client, salespeople have an even more bottom-line relationship. Sales is about making the final transaction happen, culminating all of the activities that lead to direct purchases of goods and services. Whereas marketing establishes and maintains a brand’s reputation, sales representatives ensure that the brand can endure financially by securing real revenue.”

Marketing is about educating the customer and influencing the purchasing decision through explaining the benefits and features of the product/service. For example, marketing is responsible for creating the key marketing messaging that lives on a company website which in turn drives a lead to the site. How the lead gets there is by searching for key terms via Google and they stumble upon XYZ company because marketing built in the appropriate key terms into the site to get the lead there. That is how marketing “sets the groundwork for sales.”

Additionally, marketing is all about the brand, creating an identity around it and figuring out ways to strategically connect the brand with a specific target group of customers so they in turn find interest and consider learning more about the company. Once again, this is an example of how marketing is setting up the groundwork for sales. To further illustrate, Marketing is an activity that begins with identifying customers needs and goes through several steps until feedback is received from the customer whereas selling simply revolves around marketing the end product available to the customer.”

According to, Invite Referrals, it’s more important than ever before for these two departments to work together. Oftentimes, they are disconnected in terms of how they believe their role impacts the result of a sale and that is precisely why there is confusion around the two functions. Fact is, they both share a common goal of drawing prospects in and turning those prospects into customers.

The Marketing Versus Sales Paradox

Use your imagination a bit and think of marketing as bait at the end of a fishing pole. Marketing’s key function is to find the “right bait” for the “right fish” and patiently wait for that fish to bite the bait.

Once the fish is on the hook – sales and marketing reel the fish in together simultaneously (marketing provides that extra pull by feeding the customer aka “the fish” with more content about the company and sales is pulling them in by securing their business). Once that fish is out of water, in a net and then thrown into a bucket to get cooked – the deal is sealed – an effort of both marketing and sales.

The Marketing Versus Sales Paradox

In conclusion, marketers are on the lookout for those “best” clients and customers for a given brand, both in terms of purchasing power and the potential to become a brand ambassador. “Then, the marketer creates content that can engage the buyer with that brand. Of course, sales remains indispensable. The buyer still needs to purchase the good or service, right? Salespeople and marketers close the deal together. It has always been a team effort, and it will always stay that way.”

To set the record straight, marketing and sales have two different roles in a company, but they work together to achieve a common goal. So when it comes to securing a lead and turning that lead into business both roles should be recognized as shared owners of those efforts.

For more insights, follow the ThirtyThree Marketing blog.

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Written by Amber Grekalski

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