Marketing and sales: what are the differences?

Anyone who runs a company or works in one themselves has often heard of these two terms: marketing and sales . They are usually mentioned in the same breath, so it is often not clear how these two terms differ. It is well known that the marketing and sales department is responsible for acquiring new customers and maintaining existing ones, but who is responsible for what? In the following text we take a closer look at the two terms marketing and sales and focus on their peculiarities.

What does marketing mean?

Marketing is an important part of a company ‘s strategy and primarily deals intensively with the prevailing market. Marketing is also responsible for designing communication and distribution channels. Thus, this division controls the orientation of the products and services towards the needs of the customer and accomplishes this through planning, implementation and monitoring of the marketing strategy .

Marketing develops the instruments for orientation of sales efforts. As such, it’s not uncommon for many marketers to refer to sales as a subset of marketing. Because in a world in which the markets are becoming increasingly complex, sales that are not guided by marketing are almost disoriented. The marketing mix , which in turn consists of the “4Ps”, is often cited as the basic framework for strong marketing planning. They stand for:

  • Product 🡺 Product Policy : Product policy is at the heart of the marketing mix and includes decisions about service offerings, packaging, branding and warranties, and composition of product offerings. The goals of the product policy can be aligned as follows:
  • economically
  • transaction oriented
  • interaction-oriented
  • range related
  • psychographic

The tasks of product policy range from product development and further product development to product cancellation. The instruments of product policy are as follows:

  • product quality
  • product features
  • service lines
  • Assortment Choices
  • warranty services

Price 🡺 Pricing policy: The pricing policy is the part of the marketing mix that decides on pricing. Here the lower price limit is determined by the economically limiting factors and the upper limit is determined by customer demand. If the price is set too high, sales and marketing will quickly notice the consequences. Furthermore, the pricing policy also includes determining whether, for example, installment payments will be accepted or discount campaigns will be activated.

There are the following types of pricing policy :

  • cost oriented
  • demand driven
  • competitive
  • customer oriented

In order to complete the pricing policy here, a pricing strategy must also be defined. These range from high and low price strategies to price differentiation.

  • Place 🡺 Distribution policy: The distribution policy is one of the four most important instruments of the marketing mix. This part deals with the ways and strategies used to get the product or service to the customer. The following areas are covered:
  • Choice of distribution organs
  • Carrying out the physical distribution
  • Choice of the appropriate sales market (the distribution and sales channel)

The aim of the distribution policy is to make it as easy as possible for the target customer to get the product, i.e. to ensure optimum availability for the target customer. Furthermore, it is also the goal to improve the sales channels insofar as distribution and, if necessary, storage have as little impact as possible.

Promotion 🡺 Communication policy: The communication policy is sometimes also called marketing communication and includes all measures to plan and control communication between the company and the target groups. The communication policy instruments include classic advertising, direct marketing and sales promotion. Sponsoring, public relations, trade fairs and exhibitions, event marketing and also online and social media communication. The objectives of the communication policy are, among other things, the information content of the placed product, the topicality of the communicated information or the emotionality that is triggered in the customer by the product communication.

The communication strategy is usually divided into eight steps :

  • Analysis and Forecast
  • Determination of communication goals
  • budgeting
  • Distribution of the budget to the communication channels
  • Delimitation and identification of the target group
  • Formulation of the message to be communicated
  • Implementation of the defined measures
  • Controlling of the measures

The marketing strategy therefore contains processes and measures that are intended to generate paying customers and thus increase sales on the market. Marketing and sales work hand in hand here, because the first interested parties, “leads” in technical jargon, are qualified by the marketing department and then handed over to the sales team in the next step.

What does sales mean?

If you have paid attention here, it can already be deduced that sales are part of the distribution policy . Rather, over the decades, sales has changed more and more from the signpost of the marketing department to the opposite. Where sales used to give instructions to the marketing team, today sales at best acts on the instructions of the marketing department and works hand in hand with them in an interface-oriented manner.

The term sales includes all activities that bring the potential customer to buy the product or service. As part of the sales strategy, the sales staff , unlike the marketing team, come into direct contact with the customer by e-mail, telephone or in person. In addition, there is the control of the field service and also the maintenance of relationships with manufacturers and suppliers.

There are different types in the field of sales, which are now briefly explained:

  • Direct Selling : Direct selling means that the products or services are sold in the name and account of one’s own company. So you have a direct relationship with the customer.
  • Indirect sales: Here the customer contact between sales and customers is indirect, since the sales organization acts as an intermediary between the owner of the goods and the customer. This type of business usually generates sales through commission payments.
  • Multipliers: This is a special form of indirect sales, since no customer acquisition takes place here, but the members of a buying center (a company’s purchasing committee) are influenced. This can serve as a kind of door opener for further sales activities.
  • Multilevel sales: This form of sales often involves private individuals as sales employees across different organizational levels. The typical private customers are recruited, for example, through salespeople from their circle of friends.
  • Viral marketing: The friend advertisement or in New German viral marketing means that special value is placed on the friend advertisement. Product advertisements are published here in the (print) media sector and new customers are specifically recruited by working on bonuses when advertising other customers.
  • Online sales: Online sales encompasses all of the sales related to the use of the Internet and is usually adjusted and aligned using analysis tools. Here, leads are generated via websites and SEO marketing and converted into customers.

Conflicts between marketing and sales

Since the sales department in a company is usually seen as an independent unit, but is often effectively confronted with interactions by the marketing team, there is sometimes potential for conflict here. Because the marketing department tries to control the actions of the sales department based on their self-image. The potential for conflict is also probably also historically based , since just a few years ago marketing was regarded as an “assistant” of sales and with the increasing importance of strategy and marketing planning , the dependencies have changed over the years. About these so-called conflicting goalsTo avoid this as early as possible, it makes sense to let the two departments work together via organizational links so that synergies can be used and expanded.

If in doubt, seek advice

Anyone who has already identified potential for improvement in their company’s internal marketing and sales departments should, if in doubt, always seek expert advice so that the strategy for increasing sales figures can be planned and implemented in a goal-oriented manner without many internal resources being blocked in the process .

A start-up consultant who specializes in marketing and sales can give founders valuable tips as part of a business start -up consultation.