woman building a profitable business by understanding the difference between sales and marketing

Want to PROFIT? Understand the difference between SALES and MARKETING

Many businesses use the terms sales and marketing almost interchangeably.

While related, sales and marketing have different aims and mindsets.

Although closely related, sales and marketing are two distinct facets of business that serve different purposes and employ different strategies. Making the distinction can help you with both.

How marketing and sales are different.


Marketing's primary goal is to raise awareness and interest in a product or service, create a strong brand image, and position the product or service favorably in the market.

The primary goal of sales is to convert this awareness and interest into actual purchases by directly interacting with potential customers.

  • Sales Objective: Get the contract signed. Get the lead to pull out their credit card, hit the buy button, and get the money coming in. Success is measured by revenue and conversions. Sales is not about creating interest in the company or raising a brand's profile; it’s about closing deals.

  • Marketing Objective: Identify likely audiences for the product or service and start building the know-like-trust factors that can move people from cold leads to warm leads.

Broad vs. Narrow:

Marketing has a broader scope and includes market research, product development, branding, advertising, and public relations. It's about creating demand among many people, but only some will become customers.

Sales is the narrower process of fulfilling that demand through one-on-one interactions, negotiations, and relationship-building.

For small businesses, this nurturing may take place via email campaigns, social platforms, or phone or messaging.

Duration and Process:

Marketing efforts continuously work on long-term strategies to sustain and increase market presence.

Sales activities are often more immediate, focusing on short-term goals such as meeting quotas or closing a particular deal.

For small businesses, sales may mean a sales campaign that uses the know-like-trust factor that marketing has built to generate sales during a narrow time window or around a particular product or service.

woman with her child working at a laptop while growing her business and making profits by understanding the difference between sales and marketing

Target Audience:

Marketing generally targets a broader audience to reach potential customers at various stages of the buying journey.

Sales target individuals or entities that are ready or nearly ready to purchase. For small businesses, this may mean targeted outreach via email, phone, or text.

  • Sales Audience: Warm (or hot) leads expressing buying intent. The lead usually knows, likes, and trusts the company by the time of the sale. Once the sale is made, the focus is keeping individual customers happy – and buying more. This audience exists because of the marketing done for the product or service.

  • Marketing Audience: Marketers research, analyze, and plan to find new audiences. They advertise, write content, do outreach, and provide data to warm up cold audiences and turn them into leads. Marketers create the sales funnel that turns an audience unfamiliar with the company into leads ready to buy from the sales team.

One-to-Many vs. One-on-One:

Marketing messages are typically one-to-many and aim for a broad appeal. Sales communications are one-to-one, tailored specifically to the individual buyer's needs and objections.

Measuring Success:

Marketing evaluates success through reach, brand recall, and engagement metrics. Sales focus on conversion rates, average deal size, and revenue generated.

How sales and marketing are alike.

Despite their differences, sales and marketing are deeply intertwined. Their overlap lies in their shared goal: driving revenue.

Marketing generates leads and nurtures potential customers, warming them up for sales.

In turn, feedback from sales can change and shape marketing strategies. This feedback loop – marketing to sales and sales to marketing – helps ensure that messages work.

Modern businesses often adopt a "smarketing" (sales + marketing) approach, collaborating closely with sales and marketing teams.

This helps create consistent messaging, optimized lead handoff, and a unified approach to the customer journey. Ultimately, both sales and marketing are essential and complementary in achieving business growth.

For small businesses, smarketing is nothing new.

Many small businesses have always treated sales and marketing as two sides of the same coin – often with one person doing both jobs.

Take action. Download the worksheet.

Taken from: Profit-ize Your Business Book One: Marketing Strategies for Business Growth

Like this post? It was taken from the Profitize Your Business series

Patricia Browne

Patricia Browne

Patricia Browne is the author of seven books that help businesses grow and profit.

Read about The Profit-ize system and what it can do for your business

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