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The Difference Between Sales and Marketing by Jim Stovall


Sales and marketing are two terms that are often heard together and even used interchangeably. They are both vital to success but are two extremely different, sometimes opposite, concepts. The terms import and export are also used together but, as you know, they are quite opposite when you consider any transaction.

Sales, for the sake of this discussion, is the process of contacting potential buyers to present your products or services. Marketing, on the other hand, is the process of creating an environment where potential consumers call you about your product or service. While the desired result may be the same, the process and skill set required are totally different.

One of the sales person’s first tasks in any communication is to demonstrate a need for the product or service to be offered. The person selling insurance, in this instance, would contact you, informing you of the risk and peril you are in if you do not have insurance. While this is honorable, valid, and sometimes effective, it can be much more desirable when the perspective customer, through marketing efforts, becomes aware of the need for insurance and initiates the communication.

Sales and marketing create two totally different dynamics emotionally in the mind of the potential customer. Consider the difference of two phone conversations.

1. You are sitting at home relaxing after a hard day’s work, preparing to enjoy a family dinner, when the phone rings. It is a fast-talking, high-pressure sales person calling you about a vacation opportunity of a lifetime. Your immediate reaction is total resistance and a desire to get off the phone as quickly as possible.

2. You are relaxing around the dinner table with the family after a hard day’s work. The topic of a summer vacation comes up and various family members begin excitedly discussing their ideas for a trip. Then someone remembers an advertisement, flyer, magazine article, etc., and you pick up the phone and call a resort to get information and make a reservation.

In both cases, you are on the phone with a representative of a vacation company; however, the dynamic is totally different because one is an imposition and the other is fulfilling a need or desire you have identified yourself. This need or desire may have been created by an effective marketing campaign, but in any event, it has short circuited the sales process.

Sales and marketing are both effective tools in much the same way that a hammer and a screw driver are both useful but hardly interchangeable.

As you go through your day today, look at your efforts in sales and marketing. Determine to understand the differences and do both well.

Today’s the day!
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Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082, or by e-mail at JimStovall@aol.com. Visit www.JimStovall.com