What Is the Difference Between Sales and Marketing

Businesses have different definitions for sales and marketing. Read one book, go to a certain school, or listen to a guru — you will get different answers each time. Regardless of where you look, by looking at sales’ and marketing’s primary output helps in simplifying the two business functions.

Primary Difference Between Sales and Marketing

I like to keep things simple.

My definition for marketing is the set of activities that create opportunities for the business to sell whatever they are offering (whether that is products or services). Sales, on the other hand, is the set of activities that turns the opportunities into customers.

In other words, marketing generates leads. Sales turn the leads into customers.

Marketing and sales will have different definitions. What will remain, though, are the activities every business needs: generating leads and closing them.

Lead Generation

Using the Inbound Methodology approach, lead generation is the part where you convert the visitors on your website (or any online properties for that matter) into leads. In this case, lead generation is marketing’s primary output.

If you are a follower of Predictable Revenue, you might have noticed the three (3) types of leads that Aaron Ross is walking about. In this case, lead generation is both the output of marketing (nets) and sales (spears).

Going back to my point earlier, it does not matter really about what definitions you use. What matters, and remains as one of the biggest activities every business has to do is to generate leads.

Closing Leads

Closing leads is another important activity every business needs to do. Without it, you will not have any customers. Without customers, you will not have any revenues.

From the Inbound Methodology approach, leads stays with marketing until they go through the proper lifecycle stages — more specifically, leads are not given to the sales team until they become sales qualified. Until that happens, the lead stays with marketing.

Predictable Revenue follows a similar approach. The lead stays with the prospecting team until the leads are qualified. Once they are a fit, they are passed on to the closers (aka account executives, or the group that is in-charge of closing). If they are not, they are removed from the pipeline. Ideally, they are enrolled into a marketing campaign that you continually send them information until they become sales ready (lead nurturing).

Both the Inbound Methodology and Predictable Revenue have different processes and definitions. One can argue that they are both different because of the context they are used (true). What is similar though is the need for both lead generation and closing leads. These are necessary business activities. Develop these specific skills and you will be a very valuable asset to any company.

Ariel Lim

Ariel Lim

Management consultant / MBA / Inbound marketer who helps startups generate leads, create and execute strategies.

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