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Marketing vs Sales – Why You’re Doing it Wrong 

Marketing and sales are often lumped into the same category. They are seen as things that intermingle and work as one thing. 

You only have to visit the latest online jobs board to see the abundance of roles asking for sales and marketing, and worse, some who ask for marketing but the description of the role is very much sales. I can imagine how difficult it is for these companies to find the people they want. 


Because they are asking for either the wrong thing or for two distinct disciplines – and most people are usually specialists in one of these areas not both.

Beneath the surface of the titles – sales and marketing – lies two very distinct and different skills that are nearly always misunderstood and confused. 

So, let’s dive in and see what exactly makes them different and how you can do each for maximum benefit.

1: Perception vs Closing 

Marketing = Perception 

Marketing is the behind the scenes artisan, crafting the way your business brand is perceived – what people think, feel and act like when they see it.

To get these messages seen by audiences, they are crafted onto platforms that people are interacting with, visiting and consuming on. Marketing is about letting people know you exist, letting them see you’re around and showing them your personality. 

Sales = Closing 

Sales, however, is about using the art of persuasion and conversation to build instant immediate relationships that allows for the skilled negotiator (sales person) to navigate and steer in the direction they want, converting interest into action.

This is often where people come unstuck, because they expect the marketing to do the function of the sales role, and this sits squarely on the shoulders of sales. Marketing sets the stage and sales is the one that closes the deal.

If you expect your marketing to close the sale and you’re frustrated by it not happening – you’re doing it wrong.

What this means for you

Essentially what this means is that if you’re putting posts on social, writing blogs, sending emails to your list, etc, you should be thinking of this as ways to build your brand perception, get people enjoying and liking your information. It is not the place to write your sales messages

Advertising is the online version of where you can sell your stuff. In every other aspect of marketing it should not be all about your ‘stuff’. Sales is where you do this – your sales team, or yourself if you’re a one-man-band – this is where you negotiate, persuade and encourage. You do not push, harass or force. Instead you have fun conversations with people. 

2 – Strategy vs Immediacy 

Marketing = Strategy 

Marketing is like gardening – first you plan where and when you’re going to plant things to give them the best chance of growth, then you nurture those plants over time to help them bloom. You don’t sit down and expect an instant mature plant from a single seed on day one. Instead you nurture it and it grows slowly over time. Marketers cultivate long-term relationships by offering nourishment through trust, brand recognition and credibility. 

Sales = Immediacy 

Sales is very much the opposite of this. It gives you the immediate result. Swift action that happens in the present moment. It is all about having real conversations immediately to give instant results. It’s based on the simple goal of converting leads into customers quickly. The sales team can capitalise on the foundation built by the marketing team and the work they have done on building reputation, trust and recognition to help them with those conversations and close the deals. 

What this means for you 

This means that marketing is your long-term strategy. It’s the thing that will yield results in the future. It won’t give you results right now. It might even appear like it’s not working for quite a while – but, and this is important, this is the time to double down and stay the course, because this is exactly why people give up or change their marketer, and actually it’s the one thing they should not do. Because, it may take 9 months or even a year, but you will see differences if you have proper strategy and focus. However, if you want immediacy, marketing is not what you need. What you need is sales. If you need instant results and you need new customers now – you need to follow the sales route, not marketing. Marketing won’t work if you need sales right now, unless you do advertising (the online sales) but this can be tricky if you don’t know how.

3 – Awareness vs Precision 

Marketing = Awareness

Marketing casts a wide net to steer attention to the brand through curiosity, buzz and fun. This raises awareness of the brand offering and builds trust and interest in the company. It’s not there to simply shove out dull “buy my stuff messages – these never work. Instead it’s about long-term strategy for better gain.

Sales = Precision 

Sales is much more precision targeted than this. It’s more aimed at hitting the bullseye on a target, so works by identifying and engaging with high-potential leads, changing the conversation to discuss the specific needs of the person. Sales teams will nurture relationships with focus and invest in areas that are likely to yield conversations. 

What this means for you 

Essentially this means you need to think of your marketing as the way you make friends and after you’ve been friends for a while, these friends might like to try your stuff in their own time. And sales is the way you get people to be your customers. So, any activity you do that’s marketing, think of it as a conversation with a friend. Any activity that’s sales think of it as a conversation with someone interested in your products. On the surface, marketing can seem much less of a priority and it absolutely can be if you’re new in business and just need leads – but what it can do is in the long-term it can take your efforts into overdrive. Marketing can enhance your sales massively.

And, while marketing and sales are very different and focus on different areas, they should work together. Marketing will give a great stage set-up but it is down to the sales team to guide prospects and close deals. Marketing and sales should definitely compliment each other and work in tandem. 

They can both help you but only if you stop thinking that marketing is sales and stop expecting things from marketing far too early. If you’re a one-man-band your marketing efforts at the beginning will do little, but if you follow your strategy and you focus and stay focused and consistent you will get where you want to be.

And, just do sales – calling sales marketing doesn’t mean you’re less of the stereotypical sleazy salesman – what it means is you’re expecting sales in the wrong areas.

You can do sales without being sleazy. Find people who would love your stuff and tell them about it. 

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