What is the difference between sales and marketing?

Updated: May 23, 2019

If you're a solopreneur (coach or consultant), you ARE the sales & marketing department. If you're a small business owner, you may not have a lot of employees within the sales and marketing functions. 

However, knowing the difference between sales and marketing will help you develop a systematic approach to growing your business.  

The easiest, but not perfect, way to understand the difference between sales and marketing is to consider "Customer Touch." 

  1. Are you speaking directly with the customer? (Sales)

    • Examples: Phone calls, in-person meetings, events, etc. If so, you are likely engaging in sales. I'll explain the "likely" in the next section. 

  2. Are you indirectly interacting with customers? (Marketing)

    • Examples: Creating Content, Building Facebook Ads, Sending a Newsletter, Surveys/Polls, etc. 

Now, let me explain why I used the term "likely" above. Sometimes you'll engage directly with customers, but purely for marketing purposes. The best example of this would be interviewing customers and prospects to gain insights. 

Developing a Sales and Marketing Strategy

Once you understand the difference between sales and marketing, devote time to design an integrated sales and marketing process. 

The goal of your marketing efforts is to create the appropriate materials and resources to generate leads, enable selling your products and close deals, plus, retain customers - Block off time to develop your marketing resources.

The goal of your sales efforts is to convert leads to prospects and prospects to customers. A secondary goal is to collect any feedback that will improve your marketing efforts - Block off time to execute your sales efforts.

Try not to combine the two efforts. If you do, you'll risk confusing your customers and potentially upsetting them as well.

As you think through your sales & marketing strategy ask yourself, what marketing tactics do you have to:

  • Qualify to understand your ideal customer profile (buyer persona)? 

    • Market & Competitive Analysis or Buyer Personas

  • Market to attract leads aligned to your ideal customer profile?

    • Content Marketing, Lead Magnets, Search Engine Optimization, Email Marketing, etc. 

  • Sell to convert your leads into prospects?

    • Sales Call Scripts, Product/Service Presentations, etc.

  • Close to acquire your customers? 

    • Sales Call Scripts, Custom/Personalized Proposals, Common Objection Answers, etc.

  • Delight to retain your customers and generate referrals?

    • Reward Programs, Content Marketing, On-Going Support, Cross-Selling, Up-Selling, Down-Selling, etc. 

My Last Piece of Advice

You need to establish a process to review your sales and marketing strategy. Win or Lose:

  • What went well?

  • What can you improve?

  • What feedback will you consider?

  • How can you increase efficiencies and decrease costs? 

My Monday's are blocked off to build my marketing resources. I've devoted Tuesday – Thursday to Sales and client calls. Fridays, I review all of my business systems, process, strategies, and tactics. This includes analyzing my sales and marketing tactics to find incremental improvements. Small steps lead to massive action.

Stewart Swayze

"Become the Cause" of Your Life, Career, and Success



Hi. I’m Stewart Swayze, I’m a Career Transition and Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs. I release new videos every week on those topics. If your interested in developing your career or marketing your business, view my YouTube Channel below.