What is the distinction between these two? In today's era it seems one overlaps each other and I'm wondering whether in a startup these roles can be covered by one person. Is it effective? Is there any case where it is better to separate it into to two different person?
There are basically two definitions of marketing: In the "pragmatic" definition, marketing is a management activity covering fields related to revenue. This is typically summarized by the 4 P's: Price, Place (ie. Distribution), Promotion, and Product. Sometimes, additional P's are added. As a management activity, the steps usually include measuring the 'Is' situation and the 'Ought' situation, constructing a plan to get from 'Is' to 'Ought' and controlling the effectiveness of the plan. Rinse, repeat.
I need to stress this, since marekting is often confused with promotion.
Selling is a process to get leads sign a contract and becomes customers. Typically, this includes understanding the prospect's problems, presenting a way how the product solves these problems, deal with any objection a prospect mentions, and finally get the prospect to sign the contract.
So, they both deal with similar problems, but from different points of view: Marketing looks at the aggregate result. Sales often look at the individual results. Consequently, they may have different goals. Whether they differ, depends on your distribution policy:
Your distribution policy finally depends on the product. Some need personal sales men, some do not. If you need seperate sales men, it's often advised for marketing people to do sales from time to time, just to keep contact with the customers' wants and needs.
Hope that helps.
In a small startup, you shouldn't worry too much about the distinction. It's everyone's job to get revenue, whether by making something or selling something.
But here's a rule of thumb: Marketing gets them into the CRM, sales gets them to buy. Just remember that everyone does all these functions!
I think of these areas as quite different. Marketing people think about positioning and messaging, and in many companies are directly involved (or control) what products the company creates, based on their understanding of the market. Sales is about just that - sales - getting customers to buy the product.
You might argue that in many internet-based companies, sales "goes away" and is indeed driven by the marketers, and that may be true. On the other hand, I often find that even in this model, the people and their mind-sets are different. Sales-oriented people are driven by quotas, targets and volume-driven bonuses much more than most marketers.
In a startup, the roles may have to be combined, though look at your candidates - or your partners - carefully. It may make more sense to have your product chief also be the marketer for a while, while she or he may not make the best sales chief.
For me, I always remember it as:
Sales sells the sizzle while marketing figures out which cut of meat the customer wants.
The more formal definitions are:
Sales is the advocate for the company. They are primarily focused on selling the companies products and services. The needs of the customer is secondary to this function.
Marketing is the advocate for the customer. They figure out the customer pain (e.g. needs) and try to fill them profitability with products. All other aspects of marketing (promotion, pricing and place) are all about telling the customer that the company can fill their need.
In todays world, Sales and Marketing tends to mix around a bit. So, clear definitions tend to get blurry.
Here's how I think about it:
Marketing = Finding prospects for your offering.
Sales = Converting these prospects into customers.
First and foremost, in an entrepreneurial environment look at marketing and sales as "functions" as opposed to "departments."
The overall function of marketing is to generate qualified leads. This is done by developing programs (internet, direct mail, trade shows, advertising, etc.) that create awareness and interest in the company and its products and services. Every program should have a “call to action,” that enables prospective customers to learn more about the company, products and/or services. This provides an opportunity to get more information in front of the prospect and then to be able to use that as a springboard to a follow-up call and potential face-to-face meeting. In short, qualified leads. And this lead generation should be tracked by each program to determine success rate.
The overall function of sales is converting those qualified leads into actual sales. And that should also be tracked for sales' associated success rate. Sales responsibilities are revenue generation and to build and grow a customer base.
In an entrepreneurial environment, both functions are necessary, but usually there is a sales person (who might be the CEO, early on) but not a marketing person. That function, which is more creative and esoteric than sales, can often be outsourced. But more important, if you have a salesperson, who is an effective closer, you don't want he/she working on anything but revenue generation, which is the lifeblood of the company. So to answer a question you raised about making this a one piece flow, if at all possible, you don't want sale people doing anything but getting in front of potential customers. If they're doing anything else, they're playing out of position. Find a way to get the marketing done, internally, externally, but not by sales.
sales = Find "physical" customer, sell to physical customer, negotiate with physical customer, deal with incoming physical customers.
marketing = Make potential buyers want to become customers before you interact with them personally and before you even know who they are (ads, viral, etc).
I've heard it put shortly and sweetly like this:
Sales is troops on the ground, getting your product into customers hands, and getting paid for it.
Marketing is the process of creating and providing covering fire to give your sales force credibility and the ability to close the deal.
"Marketing" is getting exposure for your business.
"Sales" is acquiring customers and putting money in the bank.
As a techie studying an MBA I have to issues with some of the responses, but rather than troll, I will throw my own suggestions into the mix.
Marketing is a strategic task which decides where and how you are going to compete. Essentially it is deciding/choosing what market(s) look attractive for the company, what are the right products or services to offer customers and how you intend to differentiate from other competitors.
Selling is trying to turn the marketing strategy into revenue by shifting widgets or services. Selling can be complex in itself with most organisations building and maintaining relationships with their customers.
The important thing is that marketing is a superset of selling. There is much much more to marketing than sales, promotion or PR. Whenever a business makes a decision which isn't wholly driven by requirements (like cost or physical limitations) marketing is occurring whether it is 'called' marketing or not.
there are more schools of thought on the distinction between the two.
its about what you adopt for your business.
i personally like thought that marketing is everything in your company that customers come into contact with. all these things might make or break the sale. sale is the result of marketing.