Can you pass this quick test? Marketing vs. Sales

Quick! – an email blast goes out on Cyber Monday offering a 15% discount to everyone in your company’s database. The email is opened by 38% of the recipients, but no one buys anything as a result.

Is this campaign successful?

It depends on if you are classifying it as a “marketing” campaign, or a “sales” campaign.

Where is the line between marketing and sales? This question isn’t new, but it seems to keep coming up as businesses look to continually grow profits and improve organizational infrastructure.

Let’s get on the same page:

“Marketing” is focused on reaching and persuading large audiences to generate new leads and interest. It is measured by the increase in opportunities for business as well as general recognition of the brand.

“Sales” is focused on closing new opportunities through direct interpersonal means. Once interest is established, this can involve targeted emailing, phone calls, meetings, proposals, etc. It is measured directly be increase in revenue and indirectly by retention of current customers.

So – the above scenario was a successful marketing campaign, but an unsuccessful sales campaign.

Kim Gordon talks about the three stages a lead goes through before becoming a customer answers this question in an article on Using the metaphor of a clock, she demonstrates how both marketing and sales play a part in getting a lead to close. Marketing activities can help the lead get from cold to warm through effective advertising because that is where a person can start to recognize and trust a brand. Sales activities can equally help in the same process through cold calls or networking. The key is to look for balance of both marketing and sales tactics while the lead moves through each stage.

In practical application, I have found that the common misunderstanding of the differences in these to concepts leads to poor planning and failure due to premature cancellation.

Does this sound familiar:

Your company starts a general marketing effort, but judges the success based on increased revenue. When a campaign doesn’t immediately turn around profit, it is deemed useless and cancelled. A while later, there is an uptick in revenue and the sales department is celebrated for their great work.


Your revenue is consistent year over year, no big drops or increases. Your company maintains the same marketing efforts, but has a recurring turnover of sales executives. Each new sales rep is asked to increase sales, and when they don’t, point to the marketing department as not pulling its weight, ignoring the fact that sales are the variable and marketing has been the constant.

Consider your own efforts with marketing and sales. I recommend determining not only what campaigns your will run in each department, but determining in advance how those efforts will be measured and judged. Align leads and exposure with marketing, and hard dollars with sales. This will not only allow you to better plan your strategy, but react to the results.


Read Kim’s original article here:

One Response to “ Can you pass this quick test? Marketing vs. Sales ”

  1. January 7, 2015

    Great article and good distinction of terms. Good food for thought!

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