The Difference Between Sales & Marketing

The Difference Between Sales & Marketing


Ajoy Vakil

Ajoy Vakil

464 week ago — 5 min read

The words ‘Sales’ and ‘Marketing’ are very often misunderstood or confused – and more often than not, one is mistaken for the other. Are they the same or is there a difference? Are they mutually exclusive or are they dependant on one another? These and many more questions are often asked of me in meetings with SMEs. Let me make an attempt to answer some of these questions.

Marketing, simply put creates the environment for sales.

You can imagine how much easier it would be for the salesperson to sell a product when the client already knows something about it, or has at least heard of the name and has seen an advertisement or communication about the product.

The latter part – the client having heard about the product, seen an advertisement, a social media page or heard mention of it in some party – is largely due to the role that marketing has played.

Therefore – marketing is all about creating the right environment for the sale to happen. Marketing sets the tone, creates expectations, even anticipation and a certain image about the company and the brand.

This makes life easier for the salesperson or sales channel to sell the product.

Marketing creates pull – sales on other hand, pushes the product (more about push and pull in later posts). By the way, this is not to be mistaken for push versus pull sales – we will discuss that in a subsequent post.

So what have you done for your marketing?  If some of you, after seeing this definition, may be wondering if you have done any marketing at all, then let me assure you, that you have. You have done a lot of marketing.

For instance, your company logo was created, with a certain image that you wanted to portray. You took great trouble creating your visiting cards and your letterheads. You even created a brochure. And how could I forget – your website! All these were support materials that helped you create, from your perspective: 

  1. the right expectations
  2. the right environment
  3. the right image of/for your company

You will also agree that this is not a chicken and egg situation – invariably, in most cases, marketing does come first. Sales takes advantage of the environment that marketing has created.

Marketing is not an event – it is a process. It is both, a science and an art.

I would therefore urge you to look at your marketing in all earnestness and set the tone for better sales. And what do I mean by better sales?


Marketing can actually

  • Create the right expectations

  • Open doors for you, facilitating an easier entry into the client company

  • Get you a better hearing (in terms of time and interest) during your sales presentation

  • Get you a higher realisation/price expectation (if you so desire)

  • Give you the ability to be either flexible (without diluting your image) or inflexible (without losing the client) in your pricing

  • Get you better credit terms or earlier payments

  • Improve the chances of your future communication being heard or read

  • Build salience for you (salience really refers to their remembering your brand and keeping it top of mind). Salience is extremely important because in many products the gestation period between the first meeting and the placing of the actual order can run into weeks, months and even years (like it did when I was trying to get an order to build a floating workshop for an engineering giant)

So while Sales is an extremely important function, we must thank Marketing for making life easy for sales.

More about Marketing and Sales in my subsequent posts!

P.S. – I remember this wonderful experience I had when I went to Amritsar with a Telecom client of mine. After a whole day of work, we went to the Golden Temple and then went to the local market to buy some local delicacies to carry back home to Mumbai. The young product manager in my client’s team stopped at a shop selling Amritsari Papads etc. After having selected all that he wanted to take back, he asked the old gentleman who owned the shop to give him a discount, since he was purchasing such a huge quantity.  The shopkeeper looked at him and said in a soft and soothing voice – “Betaa, yahaan par quality milta hai, discount nahin” (Son, you will get quality out here, but no discount).

Now that is setting expectations and creating the environment – not just for the present purchase but for subsequent purchases. No wonder, we too had been looking for this particular store ever since we had stepped out of the Golden Temple and into that market.


Posted by

Ajoy Vakil

Your Virtual Chief Marketing Officer DirectMart offers a host of S.MAR.T services (Strategy, Marketing and Training) that help you reach where you want to go! We help you in...