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Marketing vs Selling

by Keith Thirgood

Although many people use the terms marketing and selling interchangeably, they’re not the same thing. It’s important to think of them as separate activities requiring different strategies and actions.

Ignoring dictionary definitions, think of marketing as all of the activities required to get a sales person (you) to the stage where you are dealing with a prospect on an actual sale. These activities are often referred to as the 4 P’s of marketing: product, price, place, promotion. It’s the promotion part of marketing where the confusion between sales and marketing arises.

Promotion includes a company’s corporate image, advertising, brochures, direct mail, radio, TV, billboards, annual reports and now its Internet presence. The task of a company’s marketing is to position its product or service favorably in its customers’ minds. It should predispose its prospects toward its product/service. However, marketing doesn’t make prospects buy, that’s the job of sales.

With sales, you’re no longer dealing just with generalizations, image and philosophy. Sales starts from the foundation established in your marketing and builds a specific case. In most cases, sales is a one-on-one activity. You strive to find out enough information about a specific customer issue to recommend a course of action which will solve that issue. Your sales task is to help your customer reach the buying decision. As you sell, you remove each obstacle from the path of the specific sale.

To sum up: Marketing helps the sales process by creating an image of the company which fits the wants of the target market. Sales deals with the specific information needed for prospects to make a buying decision.

© Keith Thirgood, Capstone Communications Group

Keith is Creative Director of Capstone Communications Group, a Canadian marketing and design firm.

He can be reached at (905) 472-2330 or e-mail him at

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