Added by on 2012-10-03

What’s the difference between marketing and sales

Marketing is the process of product and service planning, pricing, promotion, and the distribution of those products and services in order to create commerce which satisfies the needs of people and entities globally. Sales is the process of implementing the product or service plan by identifying target customers, selling them on the value of the product or service and delivering it to them.

The primary difference between the two is that marketing focuses on understanding the needs and wants of customers and designing products to meet their needs, whereas sales is the process of getting those specific products or services into the hands of customers.

What should the marketing people in my organisation be doing?

The marketing function in any organisation has a variety of responsibilities. They analyse customers to determine appropriate segments and identify wants and needs. They examine competitors to identify their strategy and determine how their products/services are positioned. They identify overall trends in the marketplace and forecast growth of sales in segments.

They assist with the development of new products and help identify plausible price points for services. They develop the distribution strategy as well as coordinate the advertising effort. They help in the deployment of the sales staff as well as participate in any sales promotional program development.

What is market research?

Market research is the process of collecting, analysing and translating into action information about trends in the industry, activities of competitors, development of products and needs and wants of consumers. Conducting marketing research is an ongoing process that must be rigorously pursued by a company.

Where to begin?

What areas should be analysed when performing marketing research?

Area that should be analysed include:

Who is your market? (age group, marital status, gender, trend-conscious).

What products do they buy? (convenience, impulse, luxury, product benefits).

When do they buy?( time of day, year, during economic upswings, ongoing product requirements).

Who is involved in the purchase decision? (Who initiates the decision? Who gathers the information? Who makes the decision?)

Where should you sell your product? (catalogues, mail order, department stores, specialty shops).

What makes up the marketing mix?

Four variables make up the marketing mix: product, price, place and promotion. You can control, vary and use these variables to influence your customers in the marketing of your products or services. Within the product mix, you can vary its quality, features, style, packaging, guarantees, designs and options. Besides the actual price you charge, you can vary discounts, allowances, credit terms, or payment periods. For placing your product or service, you can vary the locations, territories, inventory levels, shelf location or type of shipments. For promotion, the major tools are advertising, personal selling, publicity, and sales promotion.

What is customer segmentation?

Customer segmentation is the process of dividing a customer population into different groups based upon similar characteristics, needs or wants of each segment. Customer segmentation is important because it helps market their products and services differently to different segments based in order to meet the specific price, product characteristics and other attributes of that product.

What are the most creative ways to understand the needs and wants of customers?

Customers needs and wants are constantly evolving. The role of any marketing function is to ensure their company”s products and services are developed in response to the needs of customers. Common ways of understanding customer”s needs and wants include conducting surveys of select customers or scheduling focus groups to identify from a segment of your customer base information that may assist your organisation in developing new products or services.

Less common ways include establishing a customer advisory board — a practice where a select group of your customers meet with the management of your company regularly in order to critique the new services and products you are contemplating developing. Also, including the customer in the development process itself can ensure the end products created meet needs even as they are developed.

Additional marketing basics

What is product positioning?

After an organisation identifies market segments, it identifies how products are positioned within the market to meet the needs and wants of the defined segments. For instance, some products are positioned as premium products — typically they have a higher price and appeal to the desires of higher income individuals. Other products are positioned as inexpensive or low cost — focusing on the lower end of a market. Still others may be priced in the somewhere in the middle, offering more of a value orientation. More sophisticated types of positions exist, but the focus of product positioning is understanding how other products compete in the market and how your company”s planned offering will compete relative to them.

How do I go about collecting information about my competitors?

There are a variety of simple ways to collect data about your competitors. Public libraries are a great place to start. A literature search of a publications database can yield all articles and commentaries written on competitors during specified time periods. Interviewing consumers who use their products or services can also uncover quite a bit of information. Industry trade groups also are great sources of information. Additionally, private research concerns, typically organised by industry as well, are often times the best source, however, usually come with a significant price tag.

What is a SWOT analysis?

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The SWOT analysis helps organisation”s gain an understanding of those significant issues facing it from both and internal and external perspective. Strengths and Weaknesses — attributes internal to a company — refer to the most significant items a company does particularly well and conversely refers to those things a company really needs to improve, respectively. Opportunities and Threats — characteristics of the environment in which a company operates — highlights the most significant opportunities facing a company and those external dangers that could prove harmful if not attended to.

What is direct marketing?

Direct Marketing is a process whereby products and services are advertised, promoted and ultimately sold directly to the consumer without the use of an intermediary such as a wholesaler, distributor or retailer. Direct Marketing eliminates the need for dealers however increases costs associated with a sales staff, telephone expenses and postage. Direct marketing has grown in popularity because of its ability to canvas a wide network of customers in a very short time at a reasonable cost.

What is a harvesting strategy?

Harvesting is a strategy in which the business sharply reduces its expenses to increase its profits knowing that this will accelerate the rate of sales decline and ultimately the demise of the product.

Marketing your products

How do I select the right distribution channels for my products/services?

There are a variety of things to consider when selecting distribution channels for products and services however, businesses principally need to consider how to best get their particular product/service into the customers hands in a manner that will yield the best profits for the organisation. Once the targeted markets/segments are determined, an organisation needs to select how to reach customers within those segments. This can be done by selling through intermediaries such as wholesalers and by selling directly to end users via retail outlets or the Internet and generally depends upon how intensive (widespread) or selective (narrow) the seller wants to be. Regardless of the manner chosen, competition and profitability should be a primary consideration in selection distribution channels.

How much should I charge for my products?

Your products should typically be priced to recover your costs along with a profit. Knowing your true product cost is important in establishing pricing. Knowing your product cost you can then establish a profit margin by using general industry guidelines or increasing that margin because you provide greater value with your product than your competition.

What are some ways I can advertise my product?

Obviously, there are a variety of ways to advertise products and services ranging from running ads in a local newspaper to conducting a television campaign. In all cases, you should understand your target customer base and use advertising that is focused on this customer base.

What are some typical advertising objectives?

Advertising objectives typically fall into three categories. The first category is information. This is where you describe your products features and benefits, where you are located, your price and response to service requests. Persuasion is where you proclaim the advantages of your product and try to convince the customer to buy. The last category is the reminder where you remind the potential customers of your products and their benefits.

How do I estimate how big the financial opportunity is for my product or service?

The financial opportunity for a product or service can be estimated by first defining the total market size in dollars for where your product or service will be delivered. Then, by estimating the share of the market that you believe you can capture through your distinct competence you can estimate the financial opportunity.

What are some of the basics of business strategy?

What specifically are you going to offer? Who specifically is going to buy it and why (your core competence)? How will you get it to your customers? What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (see above)? What are the barriers to entry (from a competitor)? What is happening in the industry (growing, shrinking)?

What is industry analysis?

Industry analysis is understanding what is happening in an industry. Is it growing or shrinking? What companies compete in the industry? What are the profit margins? How does the industry compete? What are competitive industries? What technology could make the industry obsolete?

What are the typical components of a marketing plan?

The typical components include: executive summary, introduction, situation analysis, competitive analysis, target market, marketing objectives, market strategies, customer service, sales forecast, action plan.

Marketing and your customers

How do I know if my company is meeting our customers” needs?

The only way to know if your company is meeting “customers” needs is to ask them. This can be accomplished through surveys, focus groups, one-on-one discussions, or telephone calls. Communicating with your customer has always been the most successful way to understand their current and future needs.

What is the linkage between customers, my business strategy and my organisation?

Your customers will identify what their needs are. Your business strategy will define how you are going to satisfy that need. Your organisation will be a component of your business strategy, which will identify how you will be structured to deliver your strategy to your customers.

How do I start incorporating electronic commerce in my marketing and sales plan?

Electronic commerce is simply another channel to your customers, therefore, you must identify how and why your customers will use electronic commerce for your business. Then, you can detail in your marketing and sales plan how the use of electronic commerce will facilitate customers acquiring your product or service or how it will help sell it.

How do I go about measuring my return (ROI) on my sales and marketing efforts?

Typically companies measure the success of their sales and marketing efforts by tracking the revenue generated by each effort. For instance, if coupons are used, there will typically be a code on the coupon that will be recorded with each sale. Knowing how many sales are made through the use of the coupon will help identify how successful the coupon was.

How do I decide whether or not to sell my products/services internationally?

Deciding to sell internationally is difficult to explain in a few sentences. Questions to answer before trying to sell internationally due to the potentially increased selling costs are: Have I largely penetrated the Australian markets? Is selling internationally strategically important? Are there greater margins by selling internationally? Am I allowed to sell internationally and where? How am I going to sell internationally direct, indirect, partnerships?


It starts to become apparent that there are many questions that need to be addressed. We have covered just a few of the major ones in this article.
It proves that the business of business is a continuous learning process.
Fortunately today there are products available that will take you through these steps and assist you in identifying many of the issues.

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