Sales Strategy VS Marketing Strategy: What’s the Difference?

I think you are familiar with these critical debates with your friends or work colleagues, about sales strategy vs marketing strategy, quantity vs. quality, and short-term vs. long-term revenues.

  • Your friend: To succeed in our business, we must be good salesmen.
  • Your: No, we must be a good marketing team.
  • Your friend: It is all about quantity.
  • You: No, quality does matter.

In this article, we will talk about the difference between Sales strategy vs. Marketing strategy, differences in methodology, the process, and the goals of each. Also, we should not forget the significance of each department for the business.

Before we dive into the subject, we first need to establish some definitions.

What Is a Marketing Strategy?

The marketing strategy is the outline approach that seeks to highlight a product or service by encouraging the prospect to buy it. This strategy responds to a need (real or latent) that is discovered through market studies.

Marketing strategy is oriented according to the image we want to give of the company, the products, and services. It will lead to the coordinated action plan implemented over the medium or long term by a company to achieve its commercial objectives.

Marketing indicates that the key to achieving the objectives of an organization lies in identifying the needs and desires of the target market and adapting to offer the satisfaction desired by the market more efficiently than the competition.

What Is a Sales Strategy?

Sales strategy works on implementing the coordinated marketing and commercial strategy aimed at achieving the commercial objectives that a company sets itself in general, or for one of its products. Usually in the medium and long term.

What Is a Sale?

A sale is an agreement by which the seller undertakes to deliver a product or service, and the buyer to pay for it. In other words, a sale is an operation by which a good or a right held by a seller is transferred to a buyer for a sum of money (sale price). When the consideration is not money, then it is not a sale but an exchange or barter.

Having said that, check the below part to figure out some of the major differences between sales strategy and marketing strategy.

Sales Strategy VS Marketing Strategy: The 10 Differences

Marketing Vs Sales

1. Asking questions vs. Storytelling

Think about the differences between sales and marketing: Sales is to ask questions, while marketing is to tell a story.

Meaning, salesmen go to a business and ask:

  • Dear Sir, how many employees do you have?
  • How many computers do you have?
  • How much data do you handle?

They ask many questions and gather data. Then, they give a recommendation(s). Consequently, the customer might buy or not.

Marketing, on the other hand, is about storytelling. A marketer may tell you something like:

“We are THE COMPANY. We have 100 employees who are working 24/7 taking care of your business so that you can have time to take care of your beloved ones!”

It is also a good idea to mention some real-life success stories, such as an investor talking about how “THE COMPANY facilitated our workflow, and enhanced our revenues.”

2. Math vs. Art

Sales agents are concerned about numbers, mathematical equations, graphs, excel sheets…etc. Math is logical, so is a salesman. On the other side, marketing is more like art.

Remember Nike and Adidas in any of their campaigns?

They never directly advertise any of their products. They only venerate great athletes and athletics. They are simply telling you:

Impossible is nothing.

Just do it.

Remember Steve Job’s epic speech “To the Crazy Ones” and “Think Different”?

We feel art, drama, and music, but we don’t feel math, because it is logical. Both are effective, but one you feel it, the other you don’t.

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3. Methodology and Approach

Sales strategy is part of the marketing strategy because the marketing of a product depends on its image in the market, the strategy adopted towards the target, and the objective of the company.

The sales strategy deals with the products/services offered by the company, their range, the target, and the positioning in relation to the competitors. It essentially aims to define the offer and its evolution.

The marketing strategy aims to promote these products, via channels, giving them a certain connotation while arousing the need inside the consumer’s desire.

However, the two strategies are closely linked, the sales department relies on feedback from the marketing department to adapt their products, and the marketing staff needs a “salable” product to ensure the promotion.

4. Dealing with Rejection

Salespeople can quickly overcome rejection. When someone rejects them, they take notice of what happened and move on. For the marketing team, the case is not the same. If you just criticize their marketing strategy! They would be hurt.


Because they are more creative people. Generally, marketing agents are more sensitive to criticism versus sales agents whenever you try to give the marketing team feedback, it will be slightly different than when you give feedback to the sales team.

5. Linear vs. Exponential

Another dynamic difference between sales strategy vs. marketing strategy.

Suppose, you are a CEO, running a corporation and you didn’t achieve your target for the last quarter. Most likely, you would be rather upset.

Therefore, if you want immediate results, to correct your numbers for the next quarter, then push the sales strategy. In this situation, it depends on sales, because sales strategy acts in the short term.

Alternatively, if everything is going according to the plan, and your numbers look good, but you want to achieve higher results for the next fiscal year, then you must focus on marketing strategy.

Sales strategy drives a linear curve, while marketing strategy drives an exponential curve.

6. Capitalising vs. Generating

Sales VS Marketing

One of the conversations you will hear in business is about attracting leads. Regardless of what kind of leads.

Sales strategy is about converting leads, whereas marketing strategy is about generating leads. The salesman communicates with a lead (prospective customer), then goes to personally meet them, and makes the deal, hoping that he/she will get referrals back, so they can sell again. This is a prolific salesperson.

On the other side, the marketing department brings leads. You are not chasing them, it is a process of constantly generating leads because you have a marketing campaign. Leads are coming to you rather than you going to them.

Sales Strategy Cycle

7. Organisation vs. Product

Another major difference between sales strategy vs. marketing strategy.

The marketing team promotes the core value of the enterprise. They will say: Let us tell you how we can benefit you. Here is what we have achieved, here is who we are, and here is a company we offer, and here is a product and services we sell.

Salespeople say “We come to you, this is a product, and this product can change your life, this experience can change your life.” This is the sales strategy.

For marketing strategy, the organization comes first, while for sales strategy, the product comes first.

Both make a difference, but each has a different way of their priority.

8. Return on Investment (ROI)

This issue is rather complicated. If you are an entrepreneur, then you have to handle this.

Sales agents will generally tell their CEO: Boss, look what we did last month. Look at the numbers on what we gained for you. Last month we gained $1M, the month before we barely reached $600,000.

Sales agents: We are the ones who are doing everything! ROI, I can show your return on investment (me). That is the positive situation with the sales team.

With the marketing department, it is quite the opposite, the Boss can ask them: How can we measure the success of this last campaign? Why can’t I measure success?

For the marketing strategy team, it is not about measuring success, it acts on the long term, about five years from now. It is about winning the best commercial, or the best campaign of the year. This is the subject of marketing strategy.

For example, Apple’s “1984” commercial, till this day is known as the greatest commercial ever produced. It was formulated by Apple’s marketing team, not by the salespeople.

Both matter, someone must carry out the selling, others plan the marketing, but this is the ROI debate.

9. Commission vs. Salary

Marketers probably will dislike this point.

Nevertheless, it is true marketers are employed according to a fixed salary basis. They get their payment, and usually, marketers don’t get dismissed. Marketing employee will have 3-6 months before (perhaps) he/she will later be dismissed. So, everything is good.

Marketing Strategy Cycle

Salespeople are working by commissions. If they don’t sell, they don’t make money. They work very hard to chase a sale, sometimes for six months, the customer says “No”, and they still don’t get paid.

What is more, they still have to carry on the work. That is the reason, sales agents are so much respected for their work, and they are the ones who win the glory for closing the deal.

10. Communications

Last but not least, marketing and sales are also very different strategies in the communicative aspect, since the marketing strategy includes ALL the communicative actions that are released towards the targeted customer, while the sales strategy is primarily based on personal communications, that is, those that take place between the seller and the prospective customer.

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In a Nutshell

Marketing strategy includes all activities that lead a prospect to the order form, to the store’s doorstep, or the website, i.e., the place where the sale takes place.

At this point, sales strategy is all about making sure that the prospect doesn’t come away empty-handed. Let him help himself from the walkway and checkout, fill out the order form, leave the store (or the website) as a buyer, instead of a prospect (lead).

Marketing is all about setting up activities to pre-qualify and attract the right prospects to the right place, and selling is about converting those prospects into customers, that is, selling the product, service, or benefit.


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