What are the differences between marketing and sales?

When I was about to graduate from my undergraduate study, I was approached by a salesperson who was recruiting team members. While I was interested in marketing and sales (that’s why I took a minor in business), I decided to pursue a graduate study in a technical field that landed me with opportunities to see the world and meet people from diverse cultural backgrounds. I am tremendously grateful for these precious opportunities.

Now, reviewing my life and planning for the future, I brainstorm on what’s next.

It is essential to upgrade our skills, aligned with our gifts. To quote Sydney Smith, “Never desert your own line of talent. Be what nature intended you for, and you will succeed.

I identify marketing and sales as skills that I want improve in organized manners from today onwards and apply intensively and methodically after summer 2017.

First, let’s clarify on the differences between marketing and sales.


What are the aims?

Marketing (pull) aims to generate interest in the product / service and create leads or prospects.

Sales (push) aims to convert prospects to actual paying customers, through directly interacting with the prospects to persuade them to purchase the product / service.


What are the landscapes?

Marketing is broad and shallow. Sales is narrow and deep.


Who are the targets?

Marketing focuses on the general population / a large set of people

Sales focuses on individuals or a small group of prospects.


What are the strategies?

Marketing is media-driven, whereas sales is people-driven.

No matter what your strategies are, it is important to consider the reach, demographics, frequency and budget.


If I only have little energy, time, resources, which one should I focus on?

Jessica advised startups to focus on sales.

Remember that “no one buys what you sell, they buy what is of value to them.Find out what your prospects and customers value. For example, James highlighted that one will only buy a pen when he needs to write something down.

Recruit early users of the product offered by your startup and convert as many as possible of these early users into paying customers.

To make a high quality or a highly desirable product, you must talk and listen to your early adopters; this is a market research.


Thank you James Heaton, George Deeb and Jessica Livingston (a partner at startup accelerator Y Combinator) for your kind advice.


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