Is Marketing the Same as Selling?



Many people think that marketing and selling are interchangeable, that it is just a different way to say the same thing. In fact, in many ways, marketing and selling are very different and require different skills and a very different approach. Of course they lead to the same end but the way that each approach progresses can be very different.

Is Marketing the Same as Selling?

Marketing is a broad, somewhat simplistic concept, where “selling” is thought of as the exchange activity. Marketing is an overall Organisational activity (the planning, pricing, promotion, packaging, advertising and selling of any Value Offer (Product. Selling is therefore only a part of the overall Marketing of any Product and therein lies the difference.

Are Marketing and Sales Different?

This is a perenial topic in forums and will get lots of responses – particularly I have found from sales folk.  Their basic message is that Sales and Marketing are different.  Marketers don’t understand Selling.  Sales people are important and underappreciated.

The basic problem with the topic and discussion is that very few participants understand or use the terms correctly.  They only think of “sales” and “marketing” as organisational departments, not as functions.

It is difficult to have a useful discussion if the key terms are not understood and agreed

So here are a few useful definitions to help (I hope) the discussions



The process of exchange of value between Provider (Seller) and Customer (Buyer).  Involves creating and providing what customers want in return for something they are willing to give (money, time, or membership)

The systematic planning, implementation and control of a mix (see Marketing Mix Strategy) of business activities intended to bring together buyers and sellers for the mutually advantageous exchange or transfer of products (Sale, Hire, Acquisition) for some form of Payment. The process of planning and executing the conception, Product Pricing, Promotion and Place (Distribution) of offers (ideas, goods and services) to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organisational objectives.

(1) The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements while achieving organisational objectives (including profitably).

(2) Fundamental policy-forming activity devoted to selecting and developing suitable products for sale – promoting and distributing these products in a manner providing the optimum return on capital employed. (Teach Yourself Marketing, John Stapleton, 1975.)

(3) Marketing starts in the market place with the identification of the customers’ needs and wants. It then moves on to determining a means of satisfying these needs and of promoting, selling and supplying a satisfaction. The principal marketing functions might be defined as Marketing Information and Research, Product Planning, Advertising and Promotion, and Distribution.

Marketing is generally thought of as one of the three or four basic activities of all organisations.  Thus – Marketing; Finance and Operations (or Production and HR)

Marketing Department

A division within a company with responsibility for the planning and coordination of all marketing activities

Marketing Department Orientation

A term used to refer to the orientation of an organisation which has established a separate department to look after its marketing activities, but which is not totally imbued with the marketing philosophy. An orientation in which all marketing activities are brought under the control of one department to improve short-run policy planning and to try to integrate the firm’s activities.


A sale relates to someone or some organisation buying something. Sales are often confused with the process of Selling. Result – or pinnacle activity involved in selling products (goods and services) in return for payment (money or some other compensation of value to the seller).

The amount of Products (both goods and services) sold in a given period of time. Sales are operating revenues earned by a company when it sells its products.


The amount of Products(all forms) sold in a given period of time

The simplistic term to mean the “Sales Department.  This is OK except where it confuses the overall activity of the organisation in the Marketing function

Sales Department

Sales department is the division of a business or an organization accountable for selling services or products. The department responsible for planning, organising, controlling and evaluating the activities of the sales force.


Process of persuasion leading to an exchange or trading arrangement.

Personal Selling

One of the possible activities of the Promotional Mix.

The process of making oral commercial representations during a buyer/seller interview situation. Direct, face-to-face communication between buyer and seller. Personal selling is a basic activity and is old as marketing itself . Colloquially referred to as face-to-face selling. Sometimes known as buyer/seller interface.


Marketing and selling are not the same although they are both extremely important parts of the entire process. Each one requires a detailed level of expertise and an approach that is effective and compelling. One cannot exist without the other if you expect to be successful at selling your offerings and your brand to other people who are made to feel that they can’t live without them.

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Dr. Brian Monger FMA, CPPM, PhD B.Com; Grad Dip Man. MBus. M.Ed. DBA Ph.D. is the Executive Director of MAANZ International, a Director and principal consultant at the Centre for Market Development.

He has over 40 years’ experience in management and consulting in marketing and business development, working with organisations in Australia and overseas.

He is a management and marketing consultant and well known presenter on marketing and management topics – as well as a prolific writer.

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