Being a small business owner, you might find yourself thinking about whether marketing is more critical or sales. Or whether you should pour more money into your marketing efforts or employ an iconic sales team.
Honestly, we have tried our hands at both to expand our business, so we are savvy about capitalizing on both these strategies effectively.
In this blog, we will throw some light on this topic and help you analyze the pros and cons of both methods for your exclusive business!
But before diving into which strategy you should choose for your company, let’s first discuss marketing vs. sales.
Marketing vs. Sales
Let’s understand this with an example.
An XYZ marketing agency is a small business established recently. Now they are looking to grow their business, and every advisor they talk to, every book they read, or every business person they meet says that without having a reliable sales team, making their business successful is a far-fetched game.
Just when they were about to pick sales to invest in, it struck them that despite their efforts, people aren’t approaching them still, and that being a marketing agency, they aren’t even using marketing for their own business growth. So they decided to go with marketing, and within a couple of years, they were able to establish their company as a reputed and trusted brand.
Wondering what point we are trying to make here? Well, what we are trying to convey is that both sales and marketing can do the trick and help your business grow. However, what you need to do is grasp the main differences between both these methods to embrace a strategy that will encourage your business growth.
That being said, let’s proceed to understand the primary difference between marketing and sales, and as you continue reading, we will address more of these differences.
Understanding the Difference Between Marketing and Sales
For starters, marketing and sales are two different things. Marketing comprises all the efforts that you make to draw leads into your sales funnel or sales pipeline. Whereas sales is what seals the deal with prospects who get into your sales funnel or sales pipeline.
Thus, you need to have an established sales pipeline to become successful at sales.
But in case you don’t have one, your marketing can take up your pipeline. Or if you’ve hired the right talented team, they can create their own sales pipeline by building meaningful relationships or through other outbound efforts.
However, if you wish to go with the former, i.e., let marketing fill your sales pipeline, then you must focus on your branding, brand positioning, product pricing, and marketing mix. For instance, you might decide to focus all your marketing efforts on creating a robust online presence on Google, social media, and other search engines, or you might choose to focus on expanding your email list.
Marketing’s end goal is to pull in as many high-quality, low-cost, and filtered leads into your sales pipeline as possible.
Meanwhile, your sales team can also construct their pipeline through outbound efforts like cold calling, cold emailing, networking, door-to-door sales, etc.
Marketing and sales are both challenging tasks that require different skill sets.
Nevertheless, to make sure you are dumping your money into the right approach that fosters growth in your business, you must ascertain the most suitable strategy for your unique business. For that, it’s time to go further in-depth and discover the five top differences between marketing and sales.
- Time Horizon
One of the key differences between sales and marketing is the total amount of time required before you can finally see the results.
While in sales, you can see the results within a 3-month period, in marketing, it can take you up to a year before you begin seeing notable results. And even then, remember that you have just “started” seeing the results, which means your efforts have just begun gathering steam.
Now, as one might expect, business owners are sales-driven people; they want short-term results, and they want to see them right away.
So, if the business were some sort of sport, the owner would want his company to win the game in the first quarter only.
But with marketing, you would most often lose the first quarter. It is more of a fourth-quarter game. Now you might seem to be losing the game in the fourth quarter, too, but suddenly, it would turn the tables and make you win.
What you need to remember here is that marketing that pays off can compound into results, which is just not attainable with a sales mindset.
So if marketing is exponential, sales is linear. If sales is a game of numbers, marketing is an art.
The focus of sales is to achieve short-term results and allowances, while marketing doesn’t even care about it. It is focusing on long-term gains.
Sure, marketing takes a great deal of time, effort, and even resources, but fortunately, it is all worth it.
- Customer Preference
How does it feel when a person tries to sell a product to you?
Like how do you feel knowing that the other person just wants to make a few bucks through you?
Will you trust that person or even be interested in listening to them?
Well, we don’t know about you, but the majority of people hate being sold to. Customers typically prefer interacting with a person who is more explanatory than pushy and is more concerned with helping you genuinely instead of getting money from you.
Most people today don’t really like dealing with salespeople at all. Or well, at least salespeople who become overly pushy to get you to make a purchase anyhow.
With the emergence of the internet, a lot of customers have abandoned sales strategies in exchange for more value-based content.
By offering value to your target audience through marketing, you are actually helping them realize their need for your product/service.
So, in this case, marketing is the clear-cut winner. Not that sales isn’t effective anymore; it’s just that over the years, pushy and incompetent salespeople have ruined the reputation of sales to the extent that even the name scares some people away.
In short, customers nowadays prefer to engage more with marketing since it is more interested in meeting the goals and satisfying their needs.
- Attracting vs. Chasing
Sales professionals need to chase opportunities, and if they don’t have opportunities, they have to create a list of potential customers and chase them instead.
In contrast to marketing, marketing creates opportunities. Effective marketing will catch eyes and turn people’s heads towards your brand.
However, one crucial thing that you should keep in mind is that it is useless to expect your marketing to only bring in good leads for your business. Even if you implement the best of the best targeting in the world, even then, you will see some bad leads too.
In order for your marketing to be successful, it needs to capture the audience’s attention. Now you may make every possible attempt to bring in a particular group of audience, but it would be ignorant to think that you won’t have a bunch of poor quality leads as well.
In short, the advantage of sales is that you can decide who you want to chase. But with marketing, you can’t do this – here, your success depends on the leads you’ve acquired. If you have obtained bad leads or no leads at all, you won’t succeed.
Meanwhile, with marketing, you have the advantage of drawing prospects to your brand instead of chasing them aggressively and receiving a fair share of rejection.
And well, frankly, with sales, you must get used to rejection as early as you can, and it’s no secret that sales isn’t the ideal line for soft-hearted people.
- Storytelling vs. Asking
Effective marketing narrates a story, and if you don’t have a good story, you’ll fail.
But what story exactly should you tell your audience? – A story of a person who had a problem that was quickly resolved with the help of your product or service.
Or a story of a person who is suffering and exasperating that feeling to the extent where they must do something about it.
As we discussed earlier, marketing is an art, and so is storytelling. And if you fail to create a messaging that is capable of capturing your target audience’s attention successfully, then marketing is going to be challenging for you. Thus, you must have good copywriting skills in order to craft engaging messaging.
Contrarily, sales is more about conversations and less about stories.
Conversations where the salesperson typically asks questions from the potential customers. Questions such as “what are your goals?” “How do you plan on achieving those goals?” “How much does accomplishing those goals mean to you?” “What are you willing to do about it?”
Good salespeople sell by asking questions, not by telling stuff.
That means you also need to have good listening skills to be able to sell your product to each individual customer.
If you fail to get it right, you will end up sounding like every typical salesperson ever – just attempting to get your customers to give you money.
So, in a nutshell, while marketing requires good copywriting and communication skills, sales require good listening and communication skills as well.
- Marketing Sells Product First; Sales Sell People First
In sales, the majority of customers purchase products from salespeople they really like and trust. And that’s why it isn’t surprising for people to buy a bad product from a friendly salesperson.
Not that you are selling a bad product, but this point indicates the advantage of having talented and professional salespeople within your easy reach.
However, you don’t essentially need to have someone at the front and center to create sales opportunities with marketing.
Effective marketing is self-sufficient and capable of selling a product all by itself. The more effective your marketing is, the less selling you need to do.
Well, these were the top five differences between marketing and sales. Now which one you choose for your business is absolutely 100% your choice. You know what’s best for your business. Take your time to weigh the pros and cons of both and then pick the most suitable approach, even if that means employing both simultaneously.
The big thing to keep in mind here is that marketing is what you do to draw prospects into your sales funnel, whereas sales is what you do to close the prospects who have entered your sales funnel.
In every aspect, marketing and sales have proved to be very different from each other, but they both can work wonders for your business together when done right. While one generates faster results, the other takes a bit more time but delivers long-lasting and invaluable results. So go ahead, keep the pros and cons in mind while choosing your strategy, and you’ll be all set to grow your business and take it to new heights.