In business, sales refer to the exchange of products and services for money whereas marketing is a broad term that involves a chain of activities such as market research, promotion, and sales. Marketing focuses on customer’s need, whereas sales stresses on the needs of the company.

Marketing is all about understanding the needs of potential customers and satisfying them by providing the products they require. In short, marketing is about fulfilling needs ... profitably. On the other hand, sales is about inducing the customers to make a purchase of goods or services offered by the company.

Sales is a part of marketing, and it is so closely intertwined, that it is hard for people to recognize their differences, but there is wide gap between the two. See the table below for further explanation:

Basis for Comparison Sales Marketing
Meaning The act of transfer of ownership of a product from the manufacturer to the ultimate customer in exchange of money or any other consideration. Understanding the requirements of the customers in such a way that whenever any new product is introduced, it sells itself.
Orientation Product-oriented Customer-oriented
Approach Fragmented approach Integrated approach
Focus Company needs Market needs
Scope Related to flow of goods to customers Related to all the activities which facilitates flow of goods to customers.
Duration Short term Long Term
Objective To intice consumers in a way to convert them to buyers. To identify the needs of customers and create products to satisfy those needs
Relationship One To One One to Many
Target Individual or small group General Public
Scope One product is created to satisfy the requirement of a customer. Advertisement, Sales, Research, Customer satisfaction, After sales services etc.
Activity related to Persons Media
Process Involves exchange of goods for adequate consideration Entails identifying and satisfying customer's needs
Rule Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware) Caveat Vendor (let the seller beware)


Definition of Sales

Sales involves the act of transferring possession of a product from the manufacturer to a distributor, distributor to the wholesaler, wholesaler to retailer and from retailer to the ultimate consumer in exchange for money or any other similar consideration, with the objective to increase revenues. It is the beginning of the contract between the vendor and the customer.

For promoting sales, normally the special prices or discounts are offered by the entities to attract customers towards their products. There are many activities involved in generating sales, which are-

  • Product demonstration
  • Establishing Tie-ups.
  • Satisfying Customer needs.
  • Building Contacts.
  • Using E-commerce strategy.

Definition of Marketing

Marketing means ‘to analyze’ and figure out the needs of the customer so that the company will produce the products according to the requirements of the customer. The companies try to look for the new metrics to identify the interest, likes and dislikes of the customers or a group. The marketing involves the dissemination of the value of a product to the customer, such that the sales increases along with the enhanced brand image.

For increasing the market of any product normally special offers are introduced to attract the customers. The activities involved in marketing are-

  • Market Research
  • Creation of product
  • Promotion of product
  • Advertisement of Product
  • Communicating the value of the Product
  • Selling of the product
  • After Sales Services
  • Customer Satisfaction

Key Differences Between Sales and Marketing

  1. Sales are the transfer of ownership of a product from one person to another for some value, whereas Marketing is the act of analyzing the market and understanding the needs of the customers in such a way that whenever a new product is launched, it sells itself.
  2. Sales are one to one relationship while marketing is one-to-many relationships.
  3. Sales have a fragmented approach, which stresses on selling all that is produced. In contrast, marketing has an integrated approach which stresses on ascertaining the customer requirements and providing them with the same.
  4. Sales is a short term process while marketing is a long term process.
  5. The selling process involves an exchange of goods for monetary consideration. On the flip side, marketing involves identifying the needs of customers and satisfying them.
  6. Sales is a people-driven activity on the other hand; marketing is a media driven activity.
  7. In sales, caveat emptor rule applies, i.e. let the buyer beware. Unlike, marketing wherein caveat vendor rule is applicable, which states let the seller beware.
  8. Marketing stresses on the needs of the market. On the contrary, sales focus on the company needs.
  9. In sales, the customer is viewed as the last link, i.e. the product is created first and then sold to customers. On the other hand, in marketing, the customer is given priority, as first of all the needs are identified and after that sold to customers.
  10. Sales focus on the individual, i.e. direct interaction with the customer and persuading him to purchase the product, but marketing concentrates on the general public, i.e. creating the value of a product to increase sales.
  11. Sales use push strategy (where the product is forced onto a customer) while marketing uses the pull strategy (where the customer comes to a product by himself).


Both marketing and selling are the prerequisite for any business to survive in the long term. They converg at some point where the primary purpose of each is to increase the revenues and improve the brand image.

Where as Sales focuses on selling the products and services to the individual customers who require a sales personnel, marketing creates a proper environment for a product to achieve the required sales volume. In short the last step of marketing is sales (which require a good marketing team). In this way, both the terms are closely interlinked with each other.


Mr. Hendersen wants to open a store in a suburban area whose population is approximately 20,000, offering wholesale priced mattresses and beddings to the public. His store would be the only one of its type in the area. He arranges the financing, selects the store to rent, purchases furniture, and hires employees, but employs no real marketing strategy to speak of. Not surprisingly, after several months the business is not as profitable as hope. Mr. Hendersen failed to have a marketing plan established before he began his venture.

Eventually, he relaizes his error, creates a well written marketing plan and advertises through various medias like radio, televisions, posters, etc. The lesson learned here is sales levels will not rise to the level needed without first developing a proper marketing strategy.


Despite many differences between the sales and marketing, these are not contradictory in nature. Both these terms are closely interlinked to each other and play a very important role in the survival of business in the long run.

The sale is a human-oriented function, so the personnel involved in the sales activity should be given a proper training and incentives to boost his morale and earn higher revenues in return. On the other hand, Marketing is a media oriented, so the best channels of advertisement and promotion should be adopted to have an increased sales along with the enhanced brand image.

Nugent & Associates has many years of helping clients develop a sales & marketing strategy to grow their business. Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions on how we can help your business.

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