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It’s the age-old question that still troubles many companies: are your teams marketing or are they selling? While marketing and sales work hand-in-hand, they are two very different concepts that require two very different methods. If you are trying to market when you should be selling (and vice versa), you could miss out on valuable opportunities. Defining the two early during employee onboarding, and then reiterated during training, could eliminate ambiguity while potentially adding benefit to your profit margin.

At surface level, marketing essentially generates leads and sales closes deals. It seems pretty cut and dry. If I were to tell you to go sell someone a smartphone, how would you approach this challenge? Would you sell the smartphone? Or would you market it? If you were to sell it, you would likely resort to rhetorical tactics to create some sort of artificial need for the smartphone. You would discuss pricing and accessibility. Maybe you will discuss how that particular smartphone would help boost productivity at work. You would essentially sell the overall benefit or value of the smartphone to the consumer.

If you were to market the smartphone, you would talk about the past and future of the smartphone marketplace. Maybe you would tout the values or culture of the producer (i.e. Apple, Samsung) of the smartphone. Or show the features that will help that person stay more connected with friends and family. In other words, you would market the experience of the smartphone to the consumer.

Marketing and sales strategies could differ depending on your company’s mission and objectives in the marketplace. Here is a look at how the two may differ.


  • Generates leads
  • Creates awareness of the company and not necessarily the product
  • Focuses on messaging and branding
  • Requests feedback from clients
  • Conducts market research and focus groups regularly to target audiences
  • Engages in one-way communication with the consumers through various media channels (radio, television, social media)


  • Actively seeks potential clients
  • Focuses on networking and creating relationships
  • Creates awareness of the product and not necessarily the company
  • Targets a single company or person
  • Closes deals
  • Engages in two-way communication with the consumer

The relationship between marketing and sales is almost like a marriage. There needs to be a process developed that allows both sales and marketing to work together to achieve a common goal. Since many of your new employees may come from other companies, the process that aligns with your company should be clearly defined during the onboarding process.

There are a number of different ways you can illustrate the differences. One would be to simply create online training that would mimic both the sales and marketing processes. Here, the new employee would engage with customers through a series of branching scenarios. During these scenarios, the learner would have to decipher the sales and marketing processes to answer questions as it applies to the customer. The online training should be developed in tandem to facilitated discussions and job aides and other written discourse. The training should also align with the company’s brand messaging and mission statement. More importantly, the training should bring both marketing and sales together to work together as a team.