The Difference Between Marketing and Sales

"The Difference Between Marketing and Sales" Fruit Stand Graphic

~by Haley Lynn Gray~

The terms “marketing” and “sales” are often used interchangeably, yet they are two separate things. Sales people are called marketers by almost everyone. While the two work in synergy, there is a difference. Simply put, when you are marketing, your goal is to generate leads. When you are selling, your goal is to convert the leads into purchases.

People seem to think sales is scary or sleazy, or both. (Think slimy used car salesmen who will sell anything that rolls, even if there is only coat hangers and duct tape under the hood.) 

The reality is most sales people are true professionals. They have a lot of ambition and drive and are optimists by nature. They are also good at handling rejection without taking it personally. The most skilled of sales people view every rejection as being that much closer to success. It takes a lot of persistence to be a successful sales person. 

Most organizations don’t value sales properly. Those companies fail to realize their success hinges on successfully selling, not just to prospective clients, but also to prospective employees as well. 

Yet most companies mix sales and marketing interchangeably. They will call their sales people marketers all day long. And many marketers don’t want to be called sales people either.

Here are some sure-fire ways to tell sales and marketing apart:

  • Marketing is about brand recognition. It may involve advertising, blogging, social media, and putting out press releases. It’s about making sure the brand is at the front of someone’s mind when they are looking to buy a product or service you sell.
  • Sales is about getting out in front of potential clients or referral services and asking for the business. Sure, I want everyone to like my sales people, but the way their success is measured is in terms of how many of your products or services are sold.
  • Marketing activities don’t usually directly drive sales. Getting a mention in the paper might be good for business, but the activities that get us there don’t always yield clients or customers. 

Generally, if what you’re doing has anything to do with asking for a referral, a lead, or a sale, you’re in sales.

If you are doing things that raise visibility of the company to the general population, you’re in marketing.    

Remember, in the words of a friend of mine: “Sales is Sexy.” Be proud of what you’re doing to bring business to the company.



Meet the Author: Haley Lynn Gray

The Difference Between Marketing and Sales 1Haley helps female entrepreneurs create a strategy plan for their businesses – so they can make enough money to spend quality time with their family, pay for their children’s dance lessons, pay bills – and not worry about where the next client is coming from.

Haley is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Leadership Girl. She helps other entrepreneurs build their businesses by sharing the benefits of her business education and experience through Business Coaching. Whether you want to get a new business off the ground or expand an existing business, Haley can assist you.

Connect with Haley:



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