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What is the difference between sales and marketing?

Newsroom | Articles March 5, 2021
Salesperson talking to marketing department on phone in front of laptop

Sales vs. Marketing: Which Is Right for You?

Sales and marketing professionals determine the best ways to attract customers and generate revenue for their companies. While they are both major functions of a business and work together toward a common goal, sales and marketing departments have different objectives and processes.

Individuals can prepare for a successful career in either sales or marketing by earning a degree in business, such as a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Those who are interested in business career options should explore specific roles in each domain to see which one best aligns with their personal and professional goals.

Specific Roles in Sales and Marketing

Sales and marketing professionals contribute to the short-term and long-term goals of an organization. While the two roles are complementary, they target different phases of the sales process. 

An overview of sales vs. marketing can help explain the major differences between the two. The biggest difference is that professionals in marketing target customers who may be interested in buying a product or service, while sales professionals make the transaction and sell the product or service. 

The following jobs are available for professionals in these fields:

Sales Representative

Sales representatives working in shops and businesses typically are responsible for selling products or services. 

Specific job titles for individuals in this role can include: brand ambassador, salesperson, retail sales representative, insurance or healthcare sales representative, sales associate, or customer care representative. 

With a few years of customer-facing experience, sales representatives can be promoted to management positions with broader oversight of the sales process.

Sales Manager

Sales managers are responsible for overseeing the sales representatives that work in their stores or managing sales people in an office. They create regular reports regarding customer accounts and strategies for sales. 

Specific job titles include: account manager, business development manager, retail store manager, district sales manager, regional manager, and sales manager.

Marketing Manager

The role of a marketing manager can vary based on an individual’s job description in a particular organization. Marketing managers often oversee the advertising directors/coordinators, account executives, media planners, promotions directors, copywriters, and graphic designers in their departments. 

Their main objective is to create a comprehensive marketing strategy for a product or service, targeted at a specific audience.

Brand Marketing Manager

Brand marketing managers are responsible for creating a logo and brand identity for a company and its products. They are tasked with creating a unique, easily recognizable image and identity for a business that customers will be drawn to and remember. 

Brand marketing managers collaborate with product managers, marketing specialists, and brand strategists to create a distinct persona for their company.

Content Marketing Manager

Content marketing has evolved to become a major aspect of marketing. A content marketing team often consists of copywriters, search engine optimization (SEO) specialists, social media specialists/managers, digital content marketing specialists, and a director of digital marketing. 

Content marketing managers develop and implement all aspects of a company’s digital content strategy.

Responsibilities of Professionals in Sales and Marketing

All professionals in a business setting seek to capture the interest of customers and ensure the ongoing generation of revenue. However, when it comes to sales vs. marketing, the abilities and skill sets of professionals in each area typically differ, even though their overall interests align with each other.

Sales Job Duties

Those who work in sales have a desire to sell a product or service to generate revenue. Sales professionals can work in any of a variety of locations—from an office to a storefront business—depending on their job title, company, and industry. They may be responsible for selling to retail accounts, contacting existing customers, making negotiations to meet sales targets, organizing products or stocking store shelves, and regularly communicating with other sales team members. 

 Professional in sales—whether working as associates, assistant managers, or managers—participate in regular training and development sessions. They are often tasked with creating monthly or quarterly reports and presenting them to business leaders and managers.

Marketing Job Duties

Marketing professionals create campaigns to drive interest in a product, brand, or service. Using nondigital marketing, professionals can promote and advertise a product with billboards, flyers, coupons, or catalogs. 

In digital marketing, professionals can use paid and organic marketing practices—such as SEO, pay-per-click advertising (PPC), search engine marketing (SEM), content marketing, podcasts, blogs, and videos—to capture the attention of current and prospective customers across different platforms. 

 In recent years, organic marketing and content marketing have exploded in popularity. According to HubSpot, about 64% of marketers actively invest time in SEO and 70% actively invest in content marketing. Email marketing also has seen tremendous growth, according to HubSpot, as 80% of marketers reported an increase in email engagement in 2020.

Sales vs. Marketing: Salary and Job Outlook

Those who are considering sales vs. marketing careers may be interested in learning more about the salaries and job outlooks associated with the positions.

Sales Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives had a median annual salary of $63,000, as of May 2019. 

Those in the lowest 10% of the range earned less than $30,530, while those in the highest 10% earned more than $125,300, depending on their job description, years of experience, education level, company, and geographic location. The occupation is projected to add 26,200 jobs—an increase of 2%—between 2019 and 2029.

Marketing Salary and Job Outlook

According to BLS data, marketing managers had a median annual salary of $136,850 in May 2019. Professionals in the lowest 10% of the range earned less than $71,010, while those in the highest 10% earned more than $208,000, based on different factors. 

Jobs for marketing managers are projected to grow by 7% between 2019 and 2029, which is faster than the average growth projected for all jobs during that time.

Earn Your Degree in Business Administration

Sales and marketing represent two essential functions of an organization, especially in today’s digital age. As of 2020, about 60% of the world’s total population—4.66 billion people—use the internet, according to Data Reportal. Most of these people (4.15 billion) have social media accounts and profiles. 

Companies rely on sales and marketing professionals to capitalize on increasing levels of customer engagement across a variety of platforms. 

 If you’re interested in pursuing a career in business, in either sales or marketing, consider earning a degree in the field. Learn more about how LSU Online’s Bachelor of Science in Business Administration program can help you pursue your professional goals.

Additional Reading

How to Become a Social Media Manager 

Is Online Distance Learning Right for Me?

Is an Online MBA Worth It? Explore the Possibilities

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