In this edition of Community Chest, we look to the business community to answer the question: What’s the difference between sales and marketing?

While often lumped together, sales and marketing are entirely different areas and skillsets. For years, the two departments have fought back against being ‘pigeonholed’ together, and for good reason. If you hire a marketing person and expect closed leads, or you employ a sales person and expect quality optimised content, you’re going to be disappointed.

As always, we’ve scoured the business forums to bring you answers from those on the front line. So here is the difference between sales and marketing from those in the know. 

Buyers attention

Marketing is getting the buyer’s attention. Sales is closing the deal.


Marketing generates interest. Sales generates revenue.


Marketing is the process of understanding your consumer and tailoring your message to them. Sales is the process of converting the audience into a paying customer.

Brand exposure

Marketing provides exposure for your brand in the market place of your potential customers. The aim is to gain favourable attention, educate and persuade people to interact with your product. If marketing is the brand, sales is the personal touch. It’s the phone call, the follow up email, the face to face meeting that turns potential into purchase.

Quality over quantity 

The quality of leads into the business is directly determined by your marketing. Quality, tailored campaigns should provide strong leads with customers who understand their purchase decisions. Catch all marketing campaigns that just throw out a large net in hope of reaching more people will often lead to poor quality leads which waste time and effort.

Without a strong marketing department that understands your audience and how to approach them, your sales team will suffer.

Sales and marketing: a sports analogy

Marketing is the process of playing from the back. The keeper gets it out to the defence who pass it into midfield, who look up to see the attack ready themselves. The midfielder gets it out to the winger who crosses on to the attacker who puts it into the back of the net. Sometimes it’s a well-timed overhead scissor kick, other times it’s a goal line scramble. Either way sales are the attacker waiting to finish off the move created by marketing.

Hand in hand 

Regardless of how you describe it, the two departments go hand in hand. They should complement each other, and businesses should resist the urge to have one without the other or to make them one entity in an effort to save costs. What you will save in the short term will cost you more in the long term through misinformed leads that continually fail to convert.

If you have a question you’d like answered by the business community, or you have advice and guidance you think will be relevant on one of our current topics email or visit our FacebookLinkedIn or Twitter pages and use hashtag #MSLCommunityChest