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What is the difference between Marketing and Sales? | Indian examples

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

You can also listen to the podcast of this same blog post, here

What according to you is the difference between Marketing and Sales?

If you have come across this or a similar question in your interviews, then this blog post is perfect for you!

For the longest period, there has been this debate on understanding the exact difference between marketing and sales.

And while anyone can give you a gist when asked, I thought it’s important for marketing students to understand the difference in depth.

When you do your MBA in Marketing, more often than not a fresher joins a company for a ‘sales’ profile.

Whereas, most likely, an experienced candidate may get a core marketing role.

In either case, it becomes extremely crucial for you to know the difference between the two, so if you are ever given a choice, you can choose the one that best suits you!

So in this blog post, we look at understanding the following parameters:

1. What is Marketing?

2. What is Sales?

3. Key differences between Sales and Marketing?

4. Indian examples to understand the differences.

Now let’s understand each of them in detail.

1. What is Marketing?

I hope you aren’t expecting a dictionary definition here, The Marketing Empress is all about providing practicality, and that’s what we will cover here.

Marketing in essence is communication, so is Marketing and Advertising the same?

Not really, there’s a difference.

Marketing is all about attracting the right leads and prospects to your organization, so it can convert into sales.

If a company has a product, how do consumers come to know about it? Through the company’s marketing efforts of course.

And what happens when you get the prospects or leads? That’s the next part of the post!

2. What is Sales?

Sales include everything that a company indulges in after marketing acquires the leads and prospects.

So it involves direct dealing with the leads to make them buy your product.

A brief understanding can be, that sales are all about selling the goods and services and converting prospects into your customers.

3. Key differences between Sales and Marketing?

While the definitions might have helped you in understanding the basic difference, let’s dive in a little more in-depth.

We can broadly divide the differences into three buckets, these are as follows:

a. Goals

How are the goals different for the marketing and sales department of a company?

While both have the primary goal of revenue generation, the difference lies in the multi-layered goals that each takes into consideration.

When it comes to Marketing, the goals revolve around understanding the consumers from a broader lens, coming up with ways in which you can target your communication, indulging in market research, etc.

So while advertising is a part of marketing, there are multiple other things that a marketing person would consider under the bucket of ‘goals’.

Now when it comes to Sales, the goal is to convert a lead into a prospect and a prospect into a consumer.

Sales goals revolve around answering questions like, what is it that I can say/do that creates an instant connection with the person, and he/she is then compelled to buy.

The goals for a sales department are also majorly focused on volumes and targets to achieve for conversions.

b. Processes

There are multiple differences to consider even when you are trying to understand the processes that both these departments take over.

While marketing may have a multi-layered approach, sales are pretty direct.

Let’s understand the marketing process:

The marketing process includes the 4 Ps of marketing, Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.

The process takes into account ‘what is it that we want to communicate?’, ‘who do you want to communicate this to?’ and lastly ‘how do we communicate?’.

Let’s understand the sales process:

The sales process includes the structure, the team, the target market, and the overall goals to achieve.

As mentioned earlier, the sales process may start for a company after the marketing efforts are set in.

This is because, only when people know about the product, can you sell them the product!

c. Structure

It’s important to note that various companies will have different sales or marketing structure.

But in general, to take an example, let’s look at how different the structure looks like for both these departments in most organizations.

Marketing department structure:

The Marketing team is headed by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), this person manages various Senior Vice Presidents/Vice Presidents/Associate Vice Presidents under him/her.

Then there are Senior Managers/Managers/Assistant Managers, and lastly, we have executives or associates.

The most crucial difference to consider here is that these days a typical MNC will have two different marketing departments.

One department that looks at all the mainline communication, namely Print. TV, Outdoor, etc. whereas the other department solely focuses on Digital marketing.

Clearly, the latter department must be getting a lot of importance in today’s day and age, but mainline communication still plays a major role as well.

Sales department structure:

The sales department is headed by the Sales head, this person manages the Sales Manager/ Area Sales Managers/Territory Sales, Managers.

Now again, a small company may not have a robust vertical bifurcation, but this is most commonly seen to be the case.

Then we have Sales executive/Sales representatives, they may be more involved in the on-ground sales process.

So clearly the distinction between Sales and Marketing structure is quite evident.

4. Indian Example to understand the difference

Let’s consider a real estate firm XYZ.

Now XYZ has a project in Mumbai that they wish to launch in the month of March, and want to gear up their Sales and Marketing teams for the same.

The Marketing department will be the first one to step in, they would get a thorough understanding of the product (house) being offered, the target consumers, and marketing budget.

They may have some market research in place if it’s a new locality that they have to target.

They will then get down to business, create communication, and the much-needed buzz around the launch.

Most of the communication, at this stage, will include a CTA, i.e (Call To Action), that ensures lead generation.

When the desired leads are generated, that is when the sales department sets in, now it is their responsibility to sell the product directly to the leads and generate revenue.

The final conversion rests in the hands of the sales department.


We can see from the example as well as the post in general that sales and marketing may not be complete without each other.

So even if they are distinct in nature, they need to work together for the greater good of the organization


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