The Difference Between Sales and Marketing in Small Business

Many small business owners fail to understand the difference between sales and marketing, but although the two elements are interlinked and strive towards the same goal, they each serve completely different purposes.

The two roles require different skills, and the small business owner needs to understand the differences in order to properly fulfill the functions.

Essentially, the difference between marketing vs. sales is that the one gets the message out and nurtures the environment, while sales use the results produced by marketing to push for commitment and seal the deal.

We’ll get into more detail as we go, and how the difference between sales and marketing impacts the small business specifically, as well as the tools each uses.

What is marketing?

It is the role of marketing to set the scene for the sale. Sales only happen when marketing is done correctly.

For small businesses, this is vital to understand because if your marketing is not up to snuff, you won’t make sales, no matter how exceptional your product or service may be.

It is usually through lack of marketing that the small business fails, and about half of all small businesses do fail. Fundera reports that, “50% of small businesses fail after five years in business.”

While the reasons provided may be varied, it generally boils down to the same thing: lack of operational knowledge, of which marketing is key.

What types of basic activities is marketing responsible for?

  • Research about the target audience and their needs.
  • Advertising for brand awareness.
  • Website content to build trust.
  • Search engine optimization to get more traffic to the website.
  • Social media marketing for engagement and awareness.
  • Creating videos to upload to YouTube for brand awareness.
  • Creating marketing materials like pamphlets, for awareness.
  • Email marketing to build trust.

What is sales?

Without effective marketing, it is very hard to make a sale. Sales relies on good marketing.

Sales is direct communication with a prospect.

To make a sale, you either have to go out and tell people about your products or services or wait for people to come to you - either on your website or to your physical location.

Now, if you think that people are going to come to you out of the blue, well, that would mean perhaps that you’re out of touch with reality. Without marketing, people are not going to come through the door, unless it's your family or friends who know what it is you're offering and building a business on the backs of family and friends is not feasible. 

Here’s a practical example: consider a sales representative who sells copier machines. 

He makes an appointment with a corporation in order to try to sell a copier but arrives without a pamphlet, and since the company doesn't have a website presence, he can’t show the actual machine, so all he has is his words.

Words are no good; the corporation has never heard of the brand before and wants to see the machine before they’ll agree to purchase it.

Unfortunately, because marketing was not effective, the sales rep couldn’t make the sale.

Examples of sales activities include:

  • Website sales; when a prospect clicks somewhere on the site to make a purchase.
  • Direct sales via email or telephone.
  • Meeting with the customer.
  • Presentations.

How do marketing and sales work together?

If you’ve read up to this point, you will know the difference between sales and marketing, but how do they work together?

Both aim for the same purpose which is to make a sale, but the processes each follows are different. 

Marketing preps the environment; the processes can take time to work and are indirect; it’s like a constant nurturing - building, building, building until the potential customer is ready to consider purchasing.

Let’s examine the marketing and sales funnel:

Image Credit: Trackmaven

How marketing and sales compliment each other.

Marketing is responsible for:

  1. Building awareness.
  2. Capturing interest.
  3. Providing information when potential customers are considering purchasing.

Sales is responsible for:

  1. Demonstrations around the product or service.
  2. Closing the deal.

Essentially, marketing handles the top part of the funnel, while sales is responsible for the bottom part of the funnel.

Marketing vs. sales tools

Now, in order to achieve modern marketing objectives, software is needed, and these also vary for marketing vs. sales.

Here are some examples:

Marketing software 

  • CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service) software would typically be used in the marketing process as a means of communication.
  • Email marketing software like MailChimp.
  • Analytics tools like Google Analytics.
  • Social media scheduling tools like Buffer.

Sales software

  • UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) technologies would typically be used in the sales process. An example of this software is 8x8’s Virtual Office which allows for affordable direct communication solutions.
  • Presentation software like MS PowerPoint.
  • Cold emailing tools like

Combined marketing and sales software

  • Customer Relationship Management tools like HubSpot and Insightly.
  • Automation software like Infusionsoft.

Key takeaway

Both roles have one purpose: to create sales, but the difference between sales and marketing is that marketing sets the scene and nurtures, grooming the prospect over time, while sales come in and closes the deal to make a sale.

Your sales and marketing teams need the best technology to be as productive as possible. With 8x8's Virtual Contact Center you get world-class technology and everything your domestic or international business needs all in one system. Call 1-866-879-8647 or fill out an online form to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 product specialist.

  • Request a

    or call 1-866-835-2979