Sales and marketing - the difference

More than once recently I've been asked by a client, or a potential client, about sales. "How many more sales will we make if…" is a question I've heard more than once. My answer was - can only be - "I don't know". And it's the truth. This may come as a shock to some readers, but sales and marketing aren't the same thing. They are often bound together mentally, in "Sales and Marketing". But they are very different things, and I'm not even sure that someone focused on one can be focused on the other. Marketing is about telling a story. It's about creating a narrative that connects with people who are interested in your product. Sales is about turning that interest into a purchase decision.

Imagine that your store, Frobozz Electric, sells widgets. You want to sell more widgets. Marketing might start spreading the word that widgets are important things to have. Your marketing team might set up a newsletter or a blog or publish articles that talk about widgets and connect with the widget-using audience.  Your marketing will remind people that if they're looking for widgets, widgets  from Frobozz Electric are the widgets to have. "The Frobozz Electric widgets, now they're the real deal," your marketing will say. People who have a need for widgets will be thinking about and talking about Frobozz Electric. Soon there's a line of people queued up outside Frobozz Electric. They know they want widgets and the Frobozz Electric widgets are the ones they want.

Everything that went into creating that line of people outside the door is marketing. Everything that happens inside the door is sales. Good marketing gets the customer to walk through the door; good sales gets him or her to buy something once inside.

The most important thing about good marketing is that things be countable. How many people came into the store? How many people visited the website? How many people rang the office phone number? At what times, on what days, how long after the newsletter went out? Show me the numbers! Only with numbers can we establish if marketing is actually working for the business.

Kelly Wright Head Chilli Chocolatier