January 11, 2024

The Difference Between Sales and Marketing


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  • Sales and marketing teams must work together to create opportunities for the team.
  • Understand the sales and marketing process to align company goals.
  • Creating alignment between teams is easy, as long as you implement ways to connect.

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Sales and marketing are two departments that work closely together to bring in sales for a business. Each team is essential for successfully attracting and engaging potential customers, but too often these departments are disconnected.  It’s important for sales and marketing to be on the same page, working together to create opportunities for the company. Follow this ultimate guide to get your teams better aligned and working together!

What does the sales team do?

The sales team deals with making sales happen through direct contact with clients. This team is responsible for direct sales and closing deals. Sales reps develop relationships with customers and work to understand their needs in order to propose a solution that benefits everyone involved.

What does marketing do?

Getting customers to the door is the main purpose of the marketing team. They help increase brand awareness and leads for the sales team.

Marketers are responsible for marketing materials, branding, content creation, social media management, email campaigns, public relations initiatives, web as well as search engine optimization to attract new customers online.

Sales vs. Marketing

Now that we’ve defined the traditional sales and marketing roles, let’s dig deeper into how each team operates. We’ll examine their core goals, strategies, and tools to help them run effectively.

Whether you run a small business or a large corporation, understanding these differences can help you better align these teams in your overall plan for your company.

Overall Goals For Both Teams

Do your marketing and sales department know their core objectives? Take a look at the key goals of each department and help team members identify where their goals may align. In the end, these two business operations share a common goal: to entice leads and convert them into customers, ultimately generating income.

Sales Goals

The goal of a salesperson is to convert leads into paying customers.

  • Sales teams focus on meeting sales goals by closing deals and achieving quotas.
  • Sales reps are responsible for understanding their customers’ needs, wants, challenges, and problems.
  • They must propose a solution that benefits everyone involved.

The sales process is also much more tactical than marketing’s long-term approach because sales reps must navigate through multiple steps of the sales pipeline.

Marketing Goals

The core goal of marketing is to promote the company by taking a big picture approach.

  • Marketing teams are tasked with clearly communicating how the product fills customers’ needs and wants.
  • They represent the product or service, and the brand identity.
  • They also price products according to consumer market research.

Marketing campaigns can last many months, which means the goals of the marketing team are often more long-term compared to the sales team.

The Sales and Marketing Process

Each department likes to follow its own process. What are the similarities and differences between the sales and marketing process?

Sales Process

The sales team’s process is all about converting the leads that marketing generates. Sales does this by explaining the features of the product or service, negotiating its price with potential buyers, and closing deals.

The sales process, or sales pipeline, is a roadmap that guides the sales team on their journey to turn potential leads into customers.

Marketing Process

The marketing process follows the 4Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. Best practices include explaining the product, its cost, who the target audience is, and where it will be sold. These elements are all part of the marketing process.

Within the marketing team, goals are established and campaigns are chosen. A budget is allocated for each campaign. Depending on the size of the company, there may be a number of campaigns running at the same time.

Identifying Prospects

In business, any individual who is a potential paying customer of your product or service is a prospect. However, sales and marketing actually have slightly different prospects. Here are the key differences:

Sales Prospects

Sales prospects are sometimes confused with sales leads.  By definition, a sales prospect is a person who could become a customer for your business based on certain qualifying traits. Whereas the sales lead is someone who has given the sales team permission to contact them.

The marketing department will generate sales leads by gathering information on prospects, researching their needs and interests, then creating a list of potential customers for sales teams. This is why it is so important to align sales with marketing together. Each team has a common goal.

Marketing Prospects

Marketers look at the big picture and broad target audience. They can provide opportunities for sales in three ways:

  • Identify the target market and potential clients
  • Build marketing campaigns based on targeting groups of people with similar interests and needs
  • Produce sales-ready content that can be used in lead nurturing programs to help sales close deals
  • generate awareness through press releases or media coverage
  • promote sales products or services

Roles and Responsibilities

The marketing and sales teams each have their own hierarchy and organizational structure. Different roles all play their part to help the team maximize efficiency and productivity. These are the most important roles:


  • Salesforce Administrator
  • Salesforce Business Analyst
  • Salesforce Developer
  • Salesforce Functional Consultant
  • Salesforce Platform Manager
  • Salesforce Solution Architect
  • Salesforce Technical Architect
  • Salesforce Project Manager

Most notably, the salesforce administrator adds value to the team by automating complex business processes, making certain the system is clean and efficient, and monitoring new releases. They work closely with the sales manager. This person acts as team captain and has an in-depth understanding of the entire salesforce.


  • Chief marketing officer
  • Director of marketing
  • Marketing analyst
  • Marketing coordinator
  • Marketing consultant
  • Marketing manager
  • Marketing and promotions manager
  • Marketing specialist

Sales and Marketing Types

Types of Sales

  • Inside Sales: Inside sales is in charge of keeping existing client connections. You are your company’s primary point of contact for clients, and you are expected to maintain their business and develop a robust business relationship with them.
  • Outside Sales: Outside sales is considered as a traditional method in that it is face-to-face, done primarily outside of the office in direct interaction with their customers.

Types of Marketing

  • Inbound Marketing: At its heart, inbound marketing is all about content marketing. It’s the job of a content marketer to develop a range of media, including blog articles, videos, podcasts, and newsletters.
  • Outbound Marketing: Outbound marketing is one of the most common forms of internet marketing. It’s also referred to as “interruptive” advertising since it involves interrupting your audience with your message in order for them to buy your product. Billboards, pop-up ads, and telemarketing are all examples of outbound marketing.

Sales and Marketing Alignment

Firms, startups, small businesses, real estate groups, are all looking for the same thing- results. The good news is there’s a solution! Here are the 3 best ways to align sales & marketing:

1. Focus on Personalization and Relevance: The B2B sales experience still follows the old familiar pattern of scripted and template marketing and email campaigns while potential customers have gotten used to personalized recommendations from companies like Amazon. It’s to catch up and bridge the gap.

Where’s the disconnect? It boils down to customer profiles that are too generic. By aligning your marketing and sales activities from the get-go, you can gather more relevant information to build out more detailed customer profiles. When the marketing team involves sales reps in this process there is the unique opportunity to personalize the data collection making it more relevant for future use.

2. Be Strategic About Using Sales Reps: Messaging and contact are meaningless if it isn’t personalized. Reallocate your sales reps’ time and energy into delivering customized messaging. Quit cold calling and use sales representatives in a way that actually adds value. Let the marketing team handle the emails so that the sales team can do what they do best- well.

Your sales experts should be creating a personalized narrative based on the customer’s profile. Storytelling is at the heart of all successful sales strategies. Communicate customers’ unique needs and struggles, and then show exactly how your solution addresses those pain points.

3. Choose Context Over Content: All hail the “king”, content, right? Maybe it’s time to take that practice into question. There’s an overwhelming amount of content available and your potential leads may be drowning in it. Why? Oftentimes, sales and marketing teams operate so independently that they often end up sharing the same content. When this happens your potential customers tune you out completely.

The fix?

Marketing and sales teams need to differentiate how each team uses content. As JB Sales CEO John Barrows states, “Marketing is content — sales is context,” he says. “If we as sales professionals are not putting any context around our content, then we’re no different than marketing.”  Outreach from the sales team should be grounded in those deep, personalized customer profiles. This means adding personalized touches to email templates and marketing content that is relevant to the target leads needs and interests.

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