The Real Difference Between Sales and Marketing


Much like the relationship between UI and UX, sales and marketing are different but work best in tandem, and you typically don’t find one without the other. While one helps the other, it’s important to note the differences between sales and marketing.

It’s not uncommon for sales job postings to be grouped together with—or covered up by—a title with the word “marketing” somewhere in the mix. However, In proven sales funnels, sales and marketing play very important—and independent—roles in the success of your company.

First, let’s break sales and marketing down as simple as we can:

Marketing uses various channels to expose a company to prospects and provides communication channels for prospects to respond, turning prospects into leads.

Sales takes those leads and discovers whether they’re a good fit, educated them about how your product will change their lives and turns them into a customer.

Now that we’ve looked at the high-level overview, let’s take a look at some specific examples.


At its basic level, the purpose of marketing is to expose your product to prospects and turn prospects into leads. This can be achieved through several different ways to connect with people, depending on what works best for your overall strategy.

Marketing Channels:

  • Email marketing
  • Websites
  • Social display ads
  • Trade shows
  • Content marketing
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)

Think about the YouTube tagline, “Broadcast Yourself.” That’s exactly the goal of marketing. You’re trying to gain as much interest as possible to start refining which prospects are going to turn into the most qualified leads. Getting a lot of exposure is good, but getting a lot of exposure to the right crowd is even better.

Once we’ve broadcasted our message, we have to make sure there are clear ways for prospects to express their interest.

Response Channels:

  • Website inquiry
  • Email list subscription
  • Online signup
  • Social media interaction
  • Face-to-face interest
  • Phone call

Sometimes as marketers, it seems like we’re sending our message into the void, and it can be scary when you wonder if what you’re doing will garner a response. Setting up the proper response channels will answer this question to turn prospects into leads.


Ask Dwight Schrute and he’ll tell you that you should stop putting the “miss” in “commission” and start landing the big jobs and contracts you’ve always wanted. It would be nice if it were that easy, but let’s be honest, it’s just not.

Sales is about taking qualified leads and helping them find the success they’re looking for using the product or service you provide, and there’s a series of steps a lead goes through before they’re refined into a customer.

Marketing qualified lead

In this phase, you’re not quite sure if the lead is a good fit, but they have expressed interest based on your marketing efforts. Your next steps are to ask questions and learn about their needs.

Sales qualified lead

Now they’re ready to be educated. You’ve got an idea of their needs and answer them with why your product or service will improve their life. This is a perfect time to give a demo.


At this step, you’ve learned that they’re a good fit for your product or service and they have some sense of urgency regarding the problem you’re solving, but they still have questions. Now you handle their concerns, make a guarantee and close the sale.


Finally, you’ve got a new customer.

After walking through this process, it’s easy to see that sales and marketing are not mutually exclusive, but each plays their own role in improving people’s’ lives with what you have to offer. Marketing gets your message out to the masses, refines interest to a qualified group. Sales takes that group and turns them into customers.


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