Difference between Sales and Marketing

difference between sales and marketing kotler

The difference between sales and marketing is more than sematic.  Sales and marketing are two separate functions that must be continuously aligned and integrated to maximize results for the organization.  Even though “sales and marketing” is a common phrase in business, many people have a difficult time distinguishing between the two.  Or, they have a difficult time determining where sales begins and marketing ends (and vice versa).  Even though overlap is constant, below is an attempt to define the boundaries of the two disciplines.

According to Philip Kotler, Professor at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, marketing is a system of activities designed to price, place (distribute) and promote products and services that satisfy the needs and wants of target customers/markets in order to achieve business objectives.  In contrast, Kotler describes sales as the process of persuading customers to purchase the company’s product or service.  In the strictest sense, sales can be considered part of promotion in the Four Ps (product, price, place and promotion).

While Kotler’s explanations are helpful, they are slightly academic and need to be further simplified for greater understanding. Here are three simplified versions: 1) Marketing drives demand for the product or service; sales fulfills the demand and creates relationships. 2) Marketing involves getting the customer to the product or service; sales involves getting the product or service to the customer. 3) Marketing is the activity of opening; sales is the activity of closing.  In all three versions, sales is the core purpose of marketing.

In many companies, there is a feud between sales versus marketing. Sales believes marketing people do not know what customers really want and set prices too high. Marketing believes sales people are too focused on individual customers and short-term revenue. Ideally, if marketing could fully optimize the Four Ps on a continuous basis – right product at right price at right place at right time – sales people would be irrelevant. In reality, full optimization is rare because of constant change. Consequently, sales needs great marketing and marketing needs great sales.

All contents copyright © 2012, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.


23 Responses to Difference between Sales and Marketing

  1. Mercy Johnston says:

    I from Ghana and am a student studying marketing. This post has been most helpful to me.


  2. John Deere Technical Team says:

    Great and rare information, thanks for posting!


  3. Sonia Scott says:

    Great post. It is especially useful when an author like you takes the time to spell out an issue in detail!


  4. Kevin Daley says:

    Appreciate the depth of your knowledge – very well written!


  5. Seth Hauth says:

    I really like how you defined sales and marketing in simple and easy to understand ways. Thanks for sharing.


  6. rajwinder kaur says:

    Very well explained. Thank you.


  7. Quinn Johnson says:

    Super helpful! Thanks for posting!


  8. Keisha Mckern says:

    Good article and straight to the point.


  9. Rudy Dewaele says:

    Helpful post. Always a fine line between where marketing ends and sales begins.


  10. Angela Mensah says:

    It is well explanatory and simple to understand. Very good article.


  11. Floral Hotsky says:

    Excellent blog!


  12. Monica Elliot says:

    It is like you read my mind. Now I get the difference between sales and marketing. Thanks for writing.


  13. Mammie Prindle says:

    I am bookmarking your blog. Great sales and marketing insights.


  14. Joe Bradbury says:

    Great site you have here … It is hard to find excellent writing like yours these days. I honestly appreciate people like you. Take care.


  15. Angela O'Malley says:

    This is a really well written article. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return.


  16. Eric Ruiz says:

    Quality post!


  17. Ramona Duncon says:

    Hi. I do think this is a great blog post. I “stumbledupon” it. 😉


  18. Trisha Battle says:

    Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this. The rest of your site is also very good.


  19. Tawfi Gadam says:

    Very clear, thank you.


  20. Rjai Yappan says:

    Which one is correct, marketing includes selling or selling includes marketing?


  21. Jesus Vachon says:

    Helpful post to understand the differences between sales and marketing. Keep up the amazing work!


  22. Jatinshah Sharma says:

    Very nice post and easy to understand … it cleared up my all confusion. Thanks.


  23. Kevin Whiteman says:

    Great post! Thank you.


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