Although you could argue that your business has a common purpose regarding the need to drive turnover and profitability upward and you are all focused on the same goal, there is actually a difference between sales and marketing, and they are separate cogs in the same wheel.

Here is a look at the basic distinctions between the two.


The fundamental purpose of marketing is all about generating interest in your business and the products or services that it has to offer.

Marketing involves carrying out an element of research to understand what customers are looking for and what they need so that you can align your offering to match that perceived need.

A marketing department assumes responsibility for formulating and running advertising campaigns, working out ways to communicate with an audience via email, social media, print, and other opportunities such as trade fairs, for instance.

The work of the marketing department is to capture the interest of a potential customer and then pass the baton to the sales department who take the process on from there.


The sales department is responsible for converting that interest into a sale and building a customer relationship so that they become a regular client and buy from your business again in the future.

A sales department usually has targets to hit with regard to sales quotas and volume, often on a monthly basis. Each month, a sales team will usually be given a new target to reach and individual sales team members might also be given personal targets alongside a departmental target.

The basic purpose of a sales department is to liaise directly with prospects that have been generated by the marketing department and work on converting that interest into a confirmed sale.

Obviously, sales and marketing share a common goal and that is why the two functions are often referred to as one entity, but they are very different, as you can see.

Working together

It is going to be the case that sales and marketing departments will work closely with each other and although they will both share a common goal, they also have their own separate goals too.

For instance, the marketing department is often looking at the bigger picture and working on building brand awareness, formulating pricing plans, developing new product ideas, etc.

In contrast, the sales department works on a much more short-term outlook, trying to hit sales volume goals on a monthly basis.

Marketing departments will invariably have more longer-term goals than their colleagues in the sales department, mainly because campaigns are usually run over a period of months rather than weeks.

As final proof of the clear distinction between the role of sales and marketing departments, you can often find that some businesses have created a service level agreement between the two.

That means they have set out the clearly defined role of each department and there is clear water and understanding between the two so that everyone knows what their role is when it comes to driving the business forward.

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