Marketing and Sales – Same Thing?



It is surprising just how many companies view marketing and sales as pretty much the same thing. And I suppose at first glance they are – I mean, marketing and sales are functions both aimed at increasing revenue and their synergistic relationship means it is easy to miss the difference between the two.

However, it is often this synergy that brings the two into conflict within an organisation – whilst the end goal is the same, the route to getting there most certainly is not. Sales is about the simple act of moving product or service, whereas marketing is a cost, with the aim of ‘helping’ the sales function move said product or service. Strip away the fluff the REAL issue is the fact that marketing has an associated cost and it is THIS what brings it into conflict with sales and why it is all too often the butt of blame by sales when the figures are down.

The thing is, whilst sales and marketing shoot for the same goal, they often work independently of each other, travelling their own paths, acknowledging each other occasionally along the way, but not supporting each other. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve heard a sales person dismiss a brochure or catalogue as rubbish, without having ever offered the marketing team any input into what is right and wrong with it. Marketing is no saint in the process either – it often just churns out what it always does without any regard or inquiry into what the sales team may actually need. It’s quite ironic that when sales are down the first thing to get the chop is marketing – and to explain – companies cut the very source of what could turn sales around. Not a smart move eh?

Sales and Marketing are distinct functions but work best when working together. Marketing really IS a complex topic, requiring systematic planning and the involvement of all stakeholders, but so too is sales and they work best when they pull on the expertise and real-world feedback and intelligence that each can bring to the table. Success comes from seeing the two as partners working hand-in-hand, helping each other towards the end-goal. Early engagement, thorough planning and where possible acting on everyone’s input, is key to success and this applies as much to external marketing agencies as it does to internal functions. If the marketing company or internal function just does as it is told or delivers what it thinks is needed – without asking questions – then expect failure.