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What Is the Difference Between Marketing and Sales?

difference between marketing and salesI posted this quote card to Twitter last week, and one of my followers asked me to explain the difference between marketing and sales. It’s a good question, and one I’m happy to answer.

Marketing is about brand awareness. It’s about getting the word out to potential customers about your products, services and what makes you different from your competition. Marketing is what big companies do when they, say, advertise during the Super Bowl. Most of you aren’t going to hop up from your seat during the big game to run to the store to purchase the beer you just saw advertised. The idea behind marketing is that the advertiser hopes you will remember that brand of beer the next time you’re at a store and purchase that brand instead of another.

Side note: Super Bowl ads are often examples of terrible marketing messages because we forget the brand but remember the ad. Check out one of my favorite Super Bowl ads, Herding Cats.

Great ad, but it has nothing to do with the brand so most of you will forget the brand moments after watching it. Remember this lesson, and don’t make that mistake with your own marketing messages.

Sales is pretty much what you expect it to be. Sales communication is intended to persuade someone to hire you. You use sales communication during sales presentations. If you own a brick and mortar store, you’ll have a mixture of sales and marketing communication. An example of marketing would be a shelf display of a particular brand of cereal. A sales display, however, would be a sign advertising “limited time” or “buy one get one free.”

See the difference? The brand display is hoping to persuade you to try that particular cereal. If you’ve seen an ad for it on TV, then you see the display, then you find the box on the shelf, you’ve seen that brand three times, which might be enough to convince you to give it a try. Add in a “25% off today!” message, and you’ll probably be hooked. That would be an example of both sales and marketing communication working together to influence a buying decision.

So why do I say that an elevator speech is marketing, not sales? Few people will hire you directly from your elevator speech. The idea behind the speech is that someone will be intrigued enough to start a conversation and give you an opportunity to talk further about your business and why they or a colleague might want to hire you. Someone may need to hear your elevator speech multiple times before it clicks or their needs change enough that they want to talk further. Be clear and concise in your speech, and people will remember you and give you an opportunity to make a sales presentation about your business.

Does that clear it up for everyone?