Are marketing and selling always perceived as similar by newcomers to the field?

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Your question asks about the perceived similarities of marketing and selling.  Superficially, marketing and selling are similar; however, this similarity is not correct because the basis of selling and marketing are unique and quite different.   

In order to effectively answer your question, it is important to define marketing and selling.


  1. Customer service is not emphasized.  A no-returns policy is common.
  2. The product cost is determined by the desired end price of the product.
  3. Reducing administrative and operational production costs is emphasized, which can lead to upgrade delays and poor management practices.
  4. The business is often likened to a well-oiled machine that needs customers, so products are pushed to market or made in advance of sales, and sales projections emphasize volume. 
  5. Departments function as silos, each working independently of one another with little or no resource sharing.
  6. Strategic planning is next to non-existent, and, if there is a strategic plan, often it is short term.
  1. Customer service is emphasized.  A liberal return policy is common.
  2. The product cost is determined by the actual cost of the product.
  3. Leveraging administrative and operational production costs to improve systems, services, and operations is emphasized, which can lead to advance upgrades and emerging-management practices.
  4. The business is often considered a learning organization, so products are determined in response to the market, and understanding the market and the market need is a priority. 
  5. Cross-organizational co-operation is common, and departments function in unison and share resources.
  6. Strategic planning is done well in advance and considered a priority.

To the first-time learner, selling and marketing may appear similar in that products, sales, and volumes are involved.  Further, each may provide customer service, a product, administrative and operational production costs, management, sales and delivery of products, departments, resources, and even strategic plans.  It is easy to confuse selling and marketing if there is limited or no understanding of business practices.  However, there is a simple way to define the difference.  The market, customers, are either a priority or not.  If so, the product follows the customer need, and not the other way around. 

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