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Sales and Marketing Are Not the Same

Sales and marketing are commonly misused as interchangeable terms. While they can seem similar, they are more like complementary components, not interchangeable parts. Today, we’re going to explain why that matters and help you think of it as a codependent relationship that might need audited in your company’s operation.

First, let’s define our terms. These are our definitions, not Webster’s.


The process of advertising, communicating, and building a brand around a particular product or service so as to build relationships over time.


Activities that directly lead to increasing revenue by getting customer commitments to purchase a product or service.

Marketing and Sales are both essential functions at any company, and whether you’re intentional about managing and strategizing for these activities, they are happening nonetheless. Marketing is about building brand awareness and staying top of mind over a period of time, whereas Sales activities are geared to increase revenue in the short term. In an ideal scenario, these two functions go hand in hand like a well-rehearsed relay team – with Marketing getting the word out and bringing in new leads, and Sales building those relationships and closing deals.

Marketing is focused externally, whereas Sales activities are focused internally (or at least a little more specifically on a list of leads). One brings your product or service to the attention of those that may not be actively seeking it out, whereas the other exists to convince and close the deal.

Marketing is always experimenting and pivoting to try new things and discover what works. It chases trends, timely opportunities, and new ways to reach the target audience. Sales, on the other hand, is a process that evolves over time as approaches are tested and fine-tuned.

Both need to be strategic, measurable, and tracked with purpose so as not to waste time or resources. But they are very different in their logic, approach, and timeline. Marketing and sales have to work hand in hand, but cannot be held accountable for each other's successes or failures. They should communicate with one another to strategize and innovate, but they are separate functions and cannot be held accountable in the same way.

We hope this challenges you think differently about your company’s marketing strategy and sales strategy, and if you need help, reach out to Marketing Maven to set up a free consult.


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