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What Is the Difference Between Sales and Marketing?

A company's financial well-being, reputation and business success are all affected by sales and marketing. While they appear similar, these fields have distinct differences when applied to a business model. To learn more about what makes them unique, continue reading.

Sales vs. Marketing

When a new product or service hits the market, sales and marketing professionals work to get consumers to purchase it. The sales team behind a new product or service launch deals with communicating directly with customers, creating a buying experience and closing the sale. Marketing consists of the behind-the-scenes tactics of selling, such as advertising, pricing, product development and placement, distribution and branding. In short, marketing professionals establish a market and attract customers, while sales professionals convince those customers to buy the product.

More specifically, sales professionals are responsible for boosting trade by persuading customers, establishing sales incentives and offering purchase rewards or options, like financing or coupons. Marketing professionals, on the other hand, promote the product through larger mediums, like telemarketing, billboards or online advertising. They develop ways to reach new audiences and retain current consumers by monitoring trends and conducting market research.

Important Facts About Sales and Marketing

Sales Managers Marketing Managers
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $124,220 $134,290
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 7% growth 10% growth
Key Skills Customer-service, analytical and communication skills Creativity, decision-making and organizational skills
Professional Certification Sales Management Certification programs are available. The Certified Marketing Management Professional credential is available.

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career and Education Options

Jobs in sales and marketing are available in a wide range of industries, including retail, manufacturing, insurance, healthcare and wholesale trade. While some professionals in sales and marketing have only high school diplomas and experience in the field, many employers prefer applicants with formal education. Many colleges, universities and community colleges offer degree programs geared toward marketing and sales professionals. The type of position you qualify for may depend on the level of education you earn.

Associate's Degree

You may choose to prepare for a career in this field by earning an associate's degree. You could, for example, earn a 2-year degree in sales and marketing or one in business administration with a concentration in sales and marketing. These programs usually cover sales management, market research, advertising and customer behavior. Upon graduation, you may qualify for a position as a retail sales associate, marketing specialist or customer service representative, among others.

Bachelor's and Master's Degrees

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), management positions in this field typically entail a bachelor's or master's degree in business administration focused on marketing. These programs often include coursework in business law, accounting, negotiation and marketing strategies. The BLS also recommends completing an internship during college, which may increase your chances of employment when entering the field.

With a bachelor's degree, prospective sales and marketing professionals may enter upper-level positions in areas like Internet marketing, advertising or sales management. Those with master's degrees may go on to work in IT management, financial analysis, security analysis or marketing research.