Marketing is the process of identifying, anticipating and then meeting the needs and requirements of consumers in order to make a profit. In contrast, selling involves persuading customers that your products or services provide the benefits that they are looking for.
You can therefore see that there is an important difference between marketing and sales. Marketing puts the needs of the customer first. Through market research, it is possible to find out about customer tastes and requirements.
In contrast selling takes place after marketing has helped the business to identify those sorts of goods that customers are looking for. The sales person is convinced that theirs is the best in the market. It is their job to then convince customers that this is the case.
The marketing department of a firm that produces razors like BIC or Gillette carries out research to find out the sorts of shaving developments that their customers are looking for. They ask customers to tell them what improvements they would like to see to existing products and what new products they would like developing. They test market a range of possible products on customers. As a result of the marketing process they are able to come up with the most suitable products.
Having invested so much in customer focused marketing they must then sell the benefits of the new product developments to customers. This involves advertising and promotion to communicate product benefits. It involves providing the appropriate support literature and direct selling to retail outlets that will stock the new razors. The sales force is effectively selling the benefits of the new products. These benefits were developed as a result of market and product research. Marketing and sales therefore go hand in hand.
Marketing is all about finding out what the customer wants. Selling is all about showing the customer that you can please them by providing them with the products that they want.