Marketing vs. Sales – A Small Business Breakdown

While both concepts are indeed, based around persuasion, sales and marketing actually have very different agendas, especially when it comes to small business management.

It’s a little like the old “which came first, the chicken or the egg” philosophy- they rely on each other in order to exist (and more importantly, to be effective).

Let’s define the terms first:

Marketing is the systematic planning, implementation and control of business activities to bring together buyers and sellers. *

A sale is a transaction between two parties where the buyer receives goods (tangible or intangible), services and/or assets in exchange for money. *

In a nutshell, these two are relational concepts- each with their individual identities, but they work symbiotically in the business world.

Typically, sales are a people-oriented practice and marketing is media-oriented. A sales person is interactional with the client, in a literal, face-to-face scenario, representing a company’s message, brand and concept.

Marketing manipulates and modifies the message, brand and concept through the use of media, through public relations management and advertising.

In most business to business companies, you will traditionally see more of the sales engagement occurring- actual people out in the field, making connections, networking and providing start-to-finish timelines from lead generation to point of purchase.

If you are, however, a business engaging with consumers, you will find that while word of mouth will always remain a strong referral source, your marketing tactics are how you will see most of your lead generation.

While both strategies are methods of communication both internally and externally within your business, experts suggest that two very different types of personality best suit these job roles.

Sales and Marketing are like the yin and yang of business. Most businesses fill a “Sales and Marketing” role, though you may consider treating the two as a team, made up of two people who compliment one another’s strengths and aid in weaknesses.

*Both definitions borrowed from


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