Business Career Paths: Marketing vs Sales—What's the Difference?

business careerWhat's your ideal business career? What positions do you plan to pursue after completing your business diploma?

Many business grads start their careers with entry-level marketing and sales roles. These are ideal pathways to supervisor opportunities, because getting ahead in sales and marketing is often based on real-world experience (and results)—not on how many degrees you have.

Businesses and organizations of all types and sizes hire sales and marketing representatives to attract new leads, promote new products and services, and keep target audiences engaged. Both of these roles are fundamental to building and sustaining a successful business.

But where exactly is the "line" between marketing and sales?

In many organizations, particularly smaller companies, responsibilities overlap between these two roles. Sales and marketing people work closely on projects in many business settings—and both are focussed on increasing revenue.

So, which path should you pursue after college? What's the real difference between marketing and sales? Let's break it down.

Marketers attract and engage new prospects

The primary function of marketing is to reach and attract new prospects. The goal is to bring new fans on board, and get them excited about the brand, services, and products.

If you take an entry-level job in marketing, you'll work under the supervision of a manager to develop and deploy promotional campaigns. Each campaign will fit into an overarching marketing strategy, and be geared toward achieving a clear set of business goals.

Your every-day responsibilities will include tasks like:

  • writing copy
  • maintaining the company's social media accounts
  • creating press releases
  • collecting and publishing client testimonials
  • keeping the website copy updated
  • helping to create promotional content, such as brochures, blog posts, and videos
  • interacting with audiences online (answering questions on social media, responding to blog comments and product reviews, etc.)
  • helping to organize trade shows and other kinds of marketing events
  • helping to manage print/online advertising campaigns
  • tracking and measuring marketing efforts to ensure goals are being met

If your efforts are successful, you'll generate new leads for the sales team to follow up on. Some of these leads may be brand new to the business, while others may be existing clients that you've managed to interest in some additional products or services.

Either way, this is usually where the salesperson steps in to close the deal.

Salespeople take leads and turn them into customers

Modern marketing focuses on building relationships, not direct selling. In fact, direct selling techniques are seen as "spammy", ineffective, and to be avoided at all costs (think: generic sales emails that clog up your inbox, annoying pop-up ads, and dreaded telemarketing calls).

Today's marketers use techniques like story-telling and creative content to create brand awareness, connect with the target audience, and get them excited about what their company does.

It's not marketing's job to close the deal. That's where the sales team comes in. They take the "hot" leads marketing generates, and turn them into confirmed clients.

If you pursue a position in sales, your daily tasks will include many of the principles and skills you studied during your business diploma:

  • following up on new leads (usually provided by marketing) by phone and email
  • scheduling face-to-face or online meetings with prospects
  • working on product pitches
  • delivering presentations and submitting proposals
  • attending networking events
  • tracking sales targets/goals
  • managing a specific sales territory

Sales is an excellent place to begin your business career if you posses strong communication skills, have a healthy sense of competition, can easily build rapport with new people, and don't give up easily.

What marketing & sales have in common

Marketing and sales are both about making connections, establishing trust, and building relationships with potential clients (and existing ones, too).

These professionals often work closely to develop campaigns and close deals. For example, marketing might ask sales about common objections they get from leads (reasons the prospect doesn't want to buy)—and then devise a promotional campaign that seeks to neutralize those purchasing roadblocks, before new leads even talk to a salesperson.

Marketing and sales work together to transform total strangers, who have never even heard of the brand, into confirmed customers, who ideally, will then promote the company to colleagues, friends, and family.

Both roles are about bringing in new business—but the tactics they use are quite different.

The question is: Which path do you see yourself taking? Would you pursue a business career in sales, or is marketing a better match for your skills and goals?

Still looking for a quality business college in Montreal to begin your training and carve out a new career?

Explore the Business Administration Sales & Marketing Diploma offered by Herzing College at the Montreal campus. Click below to browse a detailed list of business administration courses, career options, admission information—or to chat live with a friendly advisor. We're here to help!

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