ReadyToManage Webstore

Sales and Marketing

What’s the Difference Between Sales and Marketing?

September 7, 2012 by Dr. Jon Warner in Sales and Marketing

What’s the Difference Between Sales and Marketing?

Despite their relatedness, many people mistakenly think that selling and marketing are pretty much the same but this is just not true.

Marketing includes all of the following:

  1. Discovering what product or service customers want or need.
  2. Producing a product or service with the appropriate and desired features and quality.
  3. Pricing the product or service in correct and attractive ways.
  4. Promoting the product or service or spreading the word about why customers should buy it.
  5. Selling and delivering the product or service to the customer or end consumer.

So the final step, or selling, even though it can be regarded as the most critical, is just one final activity within the entire marketing process.

Although the terms are often used synonymously, interchangeably and together as if they were a single activity, the two functions of marketing goods and services and selling those goods and services have different goals. Marketing is everything that you say and do to reach and persuade potential purchasers to possibly buy your products or services or to feel ready to buy from you – it has the goal of creating customer demand. The sales process, on the other hand, is everything that you say and do to obtain a purchase order, get a signed agreement/contract or close the deal in some way – it has the goal of getting the customer to hand over their money for the product or service that you deliver to them. Both functions therefore need to be performed separately but in combination (and in a coordinated fashion) in order to be successful.

Let’s look at these two functions in a little more detail:


A good way to keep the marketing function separate in your mind is to focus on what it is NOT responsible for doing.

Marketing does not include the following activities:

  • Making new calls on customers (by phone, email or face-to-face)
  • Calling on existing customers (to offer them more or additional products or services)
  • Overcoming objections that customers may have about an organization’s products or services
  • Closing a sale with an existing or new customer
  • Handling complaints about products/services
  • Building long term relationships with customers

All of these are sales activities and what is left over as it relates to the customer is marketing.

Hence marketing includes activities such as:

  • Researching and reviewing customer wants and needs, so that the product/service offering can be adjusted or packaged in the most attractive ways possible (including pricing it competitively).
  • Defining and qualifying market segments and potential buying groups.
  • Defining and qualifying individual consumer prospects, including which particular consumers can be targeted or called upon (including demographic and psycho-graphic research).
  • Developing marketing “collateral” or fliers, brochures and presentation material to be sent out or shown to customers by sales people.
  • Developing a recognizable “brand promise” for products/services. This may include an organization’s website and other promotional programs.
  • Building or designing loyalty programs, reviewing customer experiences, and suggesting entirely new product and service offerings based on research on ongoing consumer feedback.


In the simplest terms, sales as an activity is about persuading or influencing a customer to buy a product or service. A salesperson therefore has the job of helping a prospective customer determine if they want the product or service.

The selling process involves creating a relationship with customers, identifying the individual customer’s needs and wants, providing possible solutions and closing the sale. Selling is therefore the process of helping customers to buy the products and services that an organization offers at a price that generates a profitable return for the business.

There are a number of common selling techniques that businesses can utilize to meet the needs of their customers, including:

  • Direct selling – salespeople deal directly with customers on a face-to-face basis.
  • Retail selling – products are offered through a shop or store or outlet that customers can visit.
  • Agency selling – an agent sells products and services on behalf of the supplier.
  • Telesales – products and services are sold directly on the telephone without face-to-face contact.
  • Door to door selling – salespeople visit potential customers in their homes and sell to them directly.
  • Business to business selling – businesses sell directly to other businesses.
  • Business to government selling – businesses develop solutions and sell to government agencies and departments.
  • Mail order selling – customers buy directly from a catalogue without seeing the product firsthand.
  • Online selling – products and services are sold directly on the internet.


In summary then, we can say that marketing encompasses many research and promotional activities to try to discover what products or services are wanted and to make potential customers aware of them, whereas selling is focused very much on making consumer demand match the products or services that the organization has produced.

Related Resources

Share this article.

About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

View all posts by Dr. Jon Warner →

Related Posts

Shop the ReadyToManage Webstore for 100's of downloadable coaching, training and development resources!
About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

Newsletter Subscribe

ReadyToManage Webstore Close-Out Sale


ReadyToManage is your one-stop shop for world class employee and personal development resources.  Our mission is to assist individuals and companies in developing management, leadership, and business skills in themselves and their employees through effective and affordable development materials and courses.

Newsletter Subscribe

Join Now!

Search Topics