Sales vs. Marketing Collateral: What’s the Difference?

Person fishing

4 Minute Read

Sales and Marketing. Marketing and Sales. Two great tastes that taste great together. They’re sometimes so well integrated it’s difficult to tell where one stops and the other starts. But like animals in the woods, you can tell what’s been there by the “collateral” they leave behind.

In reality, sales and marketing are very different beasts, although they’re working toward the same ultimate goal — creating new customers. Marketing gets the process started, setting up the pins. Then sales comes in and knocks them down. It’s an even distribution of labor, even if sales gets all the glory. No one’s written “Death of a Marketing Person”. We all know that “coffee is for closers” not marketers. And when has anyone ever screamed, “Show me the content!!” during an important client call?

Pop culture references aside, the distinction between sales and marketing and the different types of collateral they use is an important one. One can’t understand the full sales cycle without it. And you certainly can’t “always be closing” if you don’t know which collateral is yours, and which is better suited to the heroes in marketing. But before we drill down into materials, let’s look at the differences between these two disciplines.

What’s the Difference Between Sales and Marketing?

The differences are in the names if you examine them closely enough. Marketing is concerned with establishing a market for products and services. Marketers focus on the general public or large groups of people and attempt to generate awareness of and interest in the brand they represent.

On the other hand, sales focuses chiefly on selling the product after the marketers have successfully built enthusiasm and funneled leads to the organization’s salespeople. In a very real sense, marketers create the market that salespeople operate within.

Marketing tends to set long term goals and uses different metrics than sales to measure its success. By comparison, sales focuses on hitting short term numbers and is only as good as its last, best month.

The target audience for each is very different. Marketers don’t know who they’re contacting, while salespeople do. Marketers define personas and target specific groups of people, but they don’t zero in on individuals. They create campaigns geared toward stimulating interest among large demographics to generate leads. Those leads are then passed to salespeople.

It’s an organization’s sales department that operates on an individual level. They work to convert separate leads into sales. Salespeople don’t target large groups. They work directly with individual prospects.

This disparity in focus leads to the differences in the collateral they depend on for success. Marketing materials aren’t often useful for salespeople because they focus too broadly and usually include only surface-level product details. At the same time, sales materials are generally too specific to target large swathes of the population. They explore a company’s offerings in great detail and don’t work well to introduce the brand.

So what sorts of collateral are appropriate for each of our players? Well, let’s [insert pithy movie quote about marketing here when we find one]. I’m telling you, they don’t exist! I’ve looked.

The Different Types of Collateral That Marketers and Salespeople Use

Remember that the audience defines the tool. When you need to drive a nail, you look for a hammer. You don’t try and retrofit a stapler. It’s each discipline’s focuses that define the tools they use.

Marketing Collateral

Marketers aren’t looking to make a sale. Not directly, at least. They’re more concerned with generating interest, which means they can use tools that would fail miserably for salespeople.

Blog content is a good example. Blog posts promoted through social channels and other vehicles help establish a brand as a thought leader. These posts aren’t intended to sell and wouldn’t if used by salespeople. They provide useful information. They’re a hook that pulls people to a company’s website. They bring people to the brand organically.

Most of the collateral in a marketer’s toolbelt operates similarly. eBooks and whitepapers provide deep dives into topics critical to a company’s target audiences. They can be given away as freebies in exchange for contact information.

Infographics, brand and explainer videos, postcard mailers, social posts, and branded content all work to sell by not selling as well. They’re intended to raise awareness and remind people of a brand. They trigger people to send an email, engage on a social platform, or pick up the phone. They create fertile ground that salespeople can plow for customers.

Case studies, pillar pages, and newsletters delve more deeply into specifics but are still intended for a mass audience. Marketing collateral starts the conversation. To use a fishing metaphor, marketing collateral is the worm. It can’t snag a fish on its own, but it’s necessary to catch their eyes and lure them to the surface.

Sales Collateral

Salespeople aren’t worried about narrowing leads out of a broad audience. They need tools that help individuals decide to buy. Sales brochures, PowerPoint presentations, demo videos, call scripts, and buyer’s guides are all classic examples of sales collateral. These are tools that can be shared with specific prospects and are built to answer their questions, inform them of features and benefits, and discuss the different available models.

If you’re receiving collateral from a salesperson, it’s because you’ve already expressed an interest. You’re a warm lead — a known quantity.

Of course, these distinctions aren’t black and white. Both marketers and salespeople can utilize certain types of collateral. Email campaigns are a good example. Marketers can use them to reengage leads, driving them further down the funnel. Salespeople might enlist email campaigns to keep prospects up to date on developments. Unlike other mass appeals, they can be personalized, so they fit with a salesperson’s focus on the individual. Websites can also pull double duty, serving the needs of marketers and salespeople.

To complete our fishing metaphor, if marketing collateral is the worm, sales collateral is the fisherman. And that single sentence sums up why sales gets all the glory. No one ever remembers the worm.

But if you know of any famous cinematic or literary references to marketing, please send them our way. Surely someone, sometime in the history of entertainment has given the practice a bit of love. We know we do. If you have marketing or sales needs, we can help.

Steve Castle from Futurama probably summed it up best when he said, “You’re a shark. Sharks are winners, and they don’t look back because they have no necks. Necks are for sheep.”

Words to live by, Steve.

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