I was recently asked about the difference between sales and marketing. The question came from a local business leader who wondered if there really was a difference, since the two terms are almost always used together.
Thinking back on my days as an undergraduate marketing major at a Jesuit university, I am certain my professors would have answered the question this way: “All salespeople are marketers; not all marketers are salespeople.”
Said another way, sales is part of marketing. Marketing includes all of the elements of a good business story. Your elevator speech (answer to “What do you do?"), how you tell your story, where you (and what media you use to) tell your story, how much you charge for your story, and who you tell your story to are all part of the marketing mix.
Sales is primarily concerned with how you tell your story. The best salespeople are the ones who can tell your business story in a way that compels people to action. This action invariably translates into business results and can include the sale of products or services, the addition of new members, or the ability to secure needed funding.
Now that I have done both, I would answer the question this way: “Marketing is the ability to create the message. Sales is the ability to deliver the message.”