September 9, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Marketing vs Sales

What is the difference between marketing and sales? I once met a person whose title was “Director of Sales and Marketing” and who told me that there was really no difference in the two terms. He said that he was always “selling” and that he did not “market” his company’s services. As you can probably guess, I disagreed with him, and we spoke for an hour and never agreed on whether the two terms meant the same.

I believe that when you are “marketing”, you are letting others know who you are, what your company has to offer, and how they can find you and buy from you. When you are “selling” you are closing the deal that brings your product or service to your client, whether they are a new or a repeat customer. While “marketing” may lead to “sales”, it does not always result in a new client.

Marketing is a “getting to know each other” process. First, there is the “information gathering” portion on your part about what your prospect needs, and then there is the educational part about your company, the products and pricing offered, and how to order. If they don’t need what you have to offer, you shouldn’t be able to sell to them, and you shouldn’t press them to make an inappropriate buying decision.

If they cannot afford your price, and you cannot lower it, perhaps they will become an advocate for your business and pass referrals to you. If they are the incorrect person to whom to be marketing within their company, find out who your target person should be, and thank the person setting you on the path to that individual. Your honesty and the respect that you show them, and their referrals, may prove to be the reason that they purchase from you in the future. Who knows what the passage of time may have in store for both of you.

The “getting to know each other” phase also includes getting in touch with each other’s personalities. I will not do business with anyone whom I personally dislike, do not trust, or cannot respect. I might love their company or product or service, but if I don’t like, respect, or trust them, I cannot recommend them to others, and they will not have my business. I only purchase from those people whom I can recommend to others.

I recently had a discussion with someone who believed that if you do your marketing correctly, and with a personal touch, the sales will follow just like time flows. Sow seeds over time, and with the right approach, and those seeds will produce the intended results, perhaps even greater than you could have anticipated. The sale that you gain today through your personal, patient, and professional manner may be surpassed in the future by referrals from that happy client. Referral based sales are the best kind, and the most rewarding.

If you do your marketing right, the sales may be as easy as the client saying, “Sign me up”, before you ask for the sale. Marketing in the right manner may even replace selling. I have had clients ask me when I plan to “sell” to them because they were ready to finalize the deal. At that point, you know that you have done it right. There are many business people who do not like “selling”. You should try “marketing” instead. You may like it a whole lot more.

So how do your “marketing” and “sales” fit together? Maybe we need a person to person chat about marketing. I look forward to your comments about this and Appreciation Marketing in general. You can also email me at, or call me at 360-314-8691. Who knows, maybe we have more in common than we might think.


  1. I only market - not sell. It has worked great for me. In my mind the term salesman does not leave a positive image. I like to look at myself as a business owner that is contently perfecting marketing skills. And you are right Jim - referrals are the best type of business.

  2. Thanks Dotty; I could not agree more with what you say. Sales has a bad reputation, but Marketing can get you even more through referrals.