How are Sales and Marketing functions different?
Avoid the mistake of trying to make sales people do your marketing.

CEOs and business owners of growing companies sometimes get stuck with trying to get better results from their marketing. Their marketing efforts are not able to reach out and attract the right customers to grow their business.

So they discuss the matter with the marketing team to find solutions. But the problem remains because nobody is able to bring anything new to the table. The solution is not in hoping to come up with new ideas that might work sooner or later. The solution can also be found in taking a couple steps back for a deep look within the organization to identify the problem that may need fixing.

How sales and marketing people function

We start with the most obvious difference about what sales and marketing people are essentially responsible for.

People in sales negotiate and close deals with customers. Their responsibilities include recovery of dues and managing/servicing client business. They make the final commitment about the goods or services that the customer will receive in exchange for the agreed compensation.

Marketing people make strategies and plans to apply various methods that will inform the target market about the company, its products and services. They aim to create a favorable impression about the company and ignite the desire in customers to strongly consider their company’s products and services instead of the competition.

Sales people make more direct contact with customers. They build a relationship of trust at a personal level which works great for the last push or to maintain continued patronage. They are mostly concerned with closing the contract, raising the invoice and collecting the money. Their customer relationships are one-to-one; person-to-person.

Marketing people have much less face-to-face direct dialogue with the end customers because they don’t have to personally close sales with them. But they do interact more with other stakeholders in the channel such as suppliers and distributors. The information they disseminate is skewed to make customers like and trust the company/brand. This is different from the personal relationship of trust built between the customer and the sales person.

The “messages” sales and marketing people use to communicate with customers is quite different. Sales people have to close deals fast so the conversation is focused on getting to that point. Marketing people take a longer, steady approach. They communicate through a series of consistent messages delivered over various communication platforms. Sales people can provide excellent customer feedback that can help marketers develop their communication, but they may not be good at developing the right messages to create customer interest.

Sales people have to chase sales targets, collect money and work back with their company to ensure customers stay satisfied. Their daily plans are focused on achieving this. It is also difficult for them to prospect for fresh sales opportunities on their own. Marketing people have a long term view and can keep exploring various techniques and ideas to attract customers. Their efforts open out the leads for sales people to pursue.

Sales people may not be involved in the company’s growth objectives and plans. They also may not have the time or interest for extensive market research, competitor strategy, market shares, pricing analysis etc. Marketing people have a wider canvas to work with. They work on building the company’s image—promotion of the brand, products and services. They know the tools of marketing and market communication.

Making the switch from sales to marketing

If companies want to switch people from sales to marketing, or add marketing to the portfolio of their sales people, it can work out eventually. But it is a slow process Ideally, if a growing company desires to scale up its marketing efforts rapidly, it should try to keep the two functions separate. At least it should avoid suddenly shifting the sales person to handle marketing. A gradual blending will work better with support of appropriate knowledge training about the marketing process. At this stage the company may also consider hiring a marketing consultant to make the transition easier.