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What Is Sales?
Sales is the process of convincing a consumer to purchase goods or services. At a business, the sales process typically involves salespeople contacting leads who fit the customer profile of their target market (often it's the marketing department who first identifies these leads). The salesperson then tries to persuade the lead to make a purchase by pointing out a problem that the salesperson's product or service will solve.
To accomplish this task, sales teams create and follow a sales strategy. The goal of a sales strategy is to lay out explicit guidelines and objectives for the sales organization to follow in order to maximize sales and ensure its sales force is on the same page. An effective sales strategy involves prospecting, qualifying leads, and creating meaningful messaging that shows prospective customers the value of a product or service.
What Is the Role of Sales in a Company?
Needless to say, a company's sales organization exists to make sales. Within that extensive role, sales reps focus on specific objectives.
- Convert prospective customers. A sales department's primary goal is to make sales and increase revenue for a business, but the number of sales isn't the only important metric. To maximize a business's profits, a sales force must have a high conversion rate, i.e. the percentage of potential customers who actually make a purchase. For example, a sales department that converts 30 out of 100 sales prospects (a 30 percent conversion rate) is not as efficient as a sales department that converts 30 out of 75 prospects (a 40 percent conversion rate). A higher conversion rate maximizes profits because the business spends less money to acquire each customer.
- Grow the business by building relationships. Whether you have a large or small business, word spreads fast when the majority of your customers are satisfied with your sales department's service. New potential clients may turn to online reviews or word of mouth from your existing clients. When potential customers can easily find glowing recommendations from your current clients—and when they see that your clients come back for repeat business—your sales force will more easily bring them in as new clients. A sales force that is adept at building positive, long-term relationships lays the groundwork for continued business growth.
- Retain existing customers. It's more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to retain current customers. That's why account executives and their sales teams follow up with clients in order to ensure they're satisfied with their purchases. If the client has any issues, it's important to do whatever is necessary (within reason) to keep them happy so that they remain a source of revenue for your business for as long as possible.
What Is Marketing?
Marketing is the process of making potential customers interested in a business's products or services. More broadly, the goal of marketing is to influence consumer decisions by communicating the value of a product or service. Marketers conduct market research in order to identify a target market and understand its needs. Based on that research, marketing teams generate a marketing strategy that formulates the four Ps of marketing: product, pricing, promotion, and place.
What Is the Role of Marketing in a Company?
The marketing department is in charge of generating interest in the company's products, and they're responsible for creating and maintaining the company's entire image. Some common marketing functions include:
- Defining how consumers perceive the brand.
- Conducting and analyzing market research.
- Identifying a target market for the product or service.
- Producing and distributing promotional materials.
- Creating content online and optimizing it for search engines.
- Managing the company's social media presence.
- Managing communication with outside PR and advertising agencies.
Sales vs. Marketing: 5 Key Differences
A company's sales and marketing efforts both share common goals: effective lead generation, converting leads to new customers, and maximizing revenue. While sales and marketing departments must work together to successfully achieve their goals, they do differ in key ways.
- Objectives: Sales is the process of actually convincing a potential customer to make a purchase, while marketing centers around generating interest in your business's products or services.
- Methods: Sales plans typically use personal interactions such as cold calling, face-to-face meetings, trade show networking, and retail interaction. Marketing plans typically take a more impersonal approach, using methods like print and TV advertising, digital marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, and social media marketing.
- Scope: Sales goals tend to focus on hitting short-term quotas, while marketing goals typically focus on long-term, big-picture achievements.
- Responsibilities: It's the job of a sales department to take a product or service that their company already created and sell it. On the other hand, marketing departments may be involved in the creation of the product or service itself, using market research to suggest features that their target customer will value.
- Tools: Sales departments use CRM software (customer relationship management) to manage the sales cycle, organize communication with leads, and prioritize tasks. Marketing departments primarily use marketing automation software to track marketing-qualified leads and manage their digital and email marketing campaigns.
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