Isn’t Marketing And Sales The Same Thing?

Well no… marketing and sales are not really the same thing.  They provide two different functions.  With sales, a salesperson with technical skills attempts to sell something to somebody.  Well managed companies will have a well-defined sales process so that the few variables that remain are handled by the sales person’s skill at selling.  For instance, a company may advertise to get leads that the sales person will attempt to convert into sales, using a standard process.

The standard process is usually defined by marketing.  Marketing’s job is to gather information and create a strategy.  Marketing can have an impact on everything, from the company’s mission statement down to the way orders are fulfilled.  Marketing’s job is to understand the customer: what they are most interested in, how they are likely to buy, what features are most appealing, what they look for in a vendor, and what kinds of services they expect with a purchase.  Marketing studies the customer from every angle and makes suggestions to management on how to change to get more customers and keep existing ones.  Marketing doesn’t reach out and touch the customer, except when gathering data, so marketing doesn’t directly create sales.

I usually say that marketing is a soft discipline where sales is a hard discipline, meaning that marketing is a management type of skill that is sometimes hard to quantify.  Sales shows direct results of effort… however, sales can be more or less effective based on how good the marketing is.

Ethics plays a role in both marketing and sales.  For instance, you don’t want to cheat your customers by promising one thing and delivering another.  Marketing can play a role in deception by delivering the product in a way that causes more to be consumed, such as making the measuring cap of detergent a color that blends with the detergent, causing the consumer to use more of the product than needed.  I am sure you have heard many stories of evil marketing people or horrible sales people, but in both cases the function of sales and marketing is to meet the needs of the customer in a way the benefits both the company and the customer.  Cheating the customer is not part of this equation.

If you sell stuff to a customer, you are not a marketer, you are a sales person.  If you study your customer for clues to how you can serve them better, you are marketer.  What do you think?

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