If there’s one consistent misunderstanding that I encounter in business, it’s that people don’t differentiate between marketing and sales within an organization. Some think they are basically the same thing, which is a mistake. This mindset is as old as business itself and many of the subtleties are quite detailed; however, here are some simple ways to define what classifies as “sales” and what is considered “marketing.”
First, here are the definitions I like to give the two terms:
Marketing: The process of creating interest in a product or service within a defined/targeted group.
Sales: The process of turning an interested prospect from a defined / target group into a customer.
There are many functions in these operations that these basic definitions seem to gloss over, but I feel these capture the over-arching goals of the two roles within the company. The goal of marketing is to determine the target audience for the product, then create awareness and stimulate interest. The goal of sales is to convert interested parties into buyers. Whether it’s through nurturing a lead that was generated by the marketing or cold calling on a prospect, sales is all about closing transactions.
Now that we have some basic definitions in place, let’s discuss the distinct roles within the company that marketing and sales should fulfill. Notice I said “should” as even when the definitions are understood, the fulfilling of the roles is often where the confusion sets in.
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