While they are similar and very much the yin and yang of a successful sales cycle for a business, there are quite a few differences between marketing and sales. While they both work together and share many of the same messages, marketing and sales often differ in things like length of cycle and size of audience. 

Marketing is often the longer term cycle of the two and it works to distribute the tone and brand of the organization as well as raise awareness of the company’s offerings. With marketing, so often we are focusing on and speaking to the masses (our target market). 

With sales, we aren’t so focused on the masses, but rather on one person as we go through the final ordering, revisions, and ultimate exchange of monies. The sales cycle is typically a much shorter cycle than the full marketing cycle. 

To put it in a nutshell, marketing is all the instances you see a McDonald’s commercial on TV, hear the ad on the radio, and see the #42 car in a NASCAR race that is sponsored by McDonald’s. Sales is when you’re at the counter and the employee asks, “Would you like fries with that?” in addition to collecting the money and handing you your food. Marketing is often the things we see (be it TV commercials, billboards, websites, etc.) and sales is the experience of making the purchase. 

Which one is more important? Obviously that’s a trick question with no correct answer. If there is no quality marketing, no one will be there to make a purchase. If your sales team is lacking, there’s no marketing in the world that will save the company.