Sales are activities related to selling or the number of goods or services sold in a given targeted time period.
The seller, or the provider of the goods or services, completes a sale in response to an acquisition, appropriation, requisition, or a direct interaction with the buyer at the point of sale. There is a passing of title (property or ownership) of the item, and the settlement of a price, in which agreement is reached on a price for which transfer of ownership of the item will occur. The seller, not the purchaser, typically executes the sale and it may be completed prior to the obligation of payment. In the case of indirect interaction, a person who sells goods or service on behalf of the owner is known as a salesman or saleswoman or salesperson, but this often refers to someone selling goods in a store/shop, in which case other terms are also common, including salesclerk, shop assistant, and retail clerk.
In common law countries, sales are governed generally by the common law and commercial codes. In the United States, the laws governing sales of goods are somewhat uniform to the extent that most jurisdictions have adopted Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code, albeit with some non-uniform variations.
A person or organization expressing an interest in acquiring the offered item of value is referred to as a potential buyer, prospective customer, or prospect. Buying and selling are understood to be two sides of the same "coin" or transaction. Both seller and buyer engage in a process of negotiation to consummate the exchange of values. The exchange, or selling, process has implied rules and identifiable stages. It is implied that the selling process will proceed fairly and ethically so that the parties end up nearly equally rewarded. The stages of selling, and buying, involve getting acquainted, assessing each party's need for the other's item of value, and determining if the values to be exchanged are equivalent or nearly so, or, in buyer's terms, "worth the price". Sometimes, sellers have to use their own experiences when selling products with appropriate discounts.
Although the skills required are different, from a management viewpoint, sales is a part of marketing. Sales often form a separate grouping in a corporate structure, employing separate specialist operatives known as salespersons (singular: salesperson). Selling is considered by many to be a sort of persuading "art". Contrary to popular belief, the methodological approach of selling refers to a systematic process of repetitive and measurable milestones, by which a salesman relates his or her offering of a product or service in return enabling the buyer to achieve their goal in an economic way.
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F.A.Q. about Sales
What's the Difference Between Sales and Marketing?
Sales and Marketing: two terms we often hear together when working with mid-size companies. In some ways, this is logical because the two need to work together. But in fact, Sales and Marketing are two very different functions and require very different skills.
Business leaders know what Operations are; they make stuff. They know what Accounting is; they record and control the money. And they know what Sales do; they sell stuff. So if you are not making stuff, selling stuff, or recording the money—what is marketing and why do you need it?
What's the difference between Sales and Marketing? To answer this question, let's define what Sales and Marketing are separately and how they support one another.
What is Marketing? Aligning with Customers, Now and for the Future
A key job of Marketing is to understand the marketplace from the perspective of the customer looking back towards the company and helping lead the company where it should be in the future. Marketing’s job is to direct the organization toward the segments, or groups of customers and channels where the company can profitably compete. It should help the organization see how it needs to modify its product offerings, pricing, and communication so that it meets the needs of the distribution channel or end customers.
Marketing also needs to convert the market understanding into tools and tactics to attract the market, build (often digital) relationships, and develop leads. Without Sales, Marketing efforts run short. Marketing directs Sales as to where they should be hunting and what ammo to use. Note, however, that if Marketing becomes a sales support function focused only on the now, the future can become lost.
Without Marketing, Sales Suffers
Not even the best hunter can bring home dinner if they are shooting blanks at decoys. Markets are constantly changing. The job of marketing is to stay ahead of the changes and help the hunters see where they should be hunting and provide them with the right ammunition. If Marketing is only focused on delivering the ammunition for today, nobody will see where the industry is moving or where the company needs to hunt next. This limits growth not only for Sales and Marketing but also for your entire organization.
Can You be Both Sales and Marketing?
In all my years, working for companies that ranged from Fortune 100 to mid-size companies I have never met anyone who was really good at both sales and marketing. I have held the title of VP of Sales and Marketing, managing a 500 person sales and merchandising force. I was really a marketing person with sales authority. The skills required to focus on the now and the push of sales are different. In many ways, they are contrary to the skills of looking to the future and the customer perspective of marketing.
Every Sales organization feels they have a good understanding of their customers. But every Sales conversation with a customer has a sales transaction lurking in the background. Therefore, customers can never be completely open about their needs and want when talking to a sales person.
For a company to really grow, someone must have the job of looking out the window towards where the company needs to go in the future. For many companies, this is the job of the CEO and Sales hires someone to do some sales support and gives them a marketing title. But as companies grow, the job of CEO starts to become a full-time job in itself and the strategic role of Marketing gets short-changed. A study of mid-size companies by the University of Texas showed that companies that separated the roles of Marketing and Sales were much more likely to grow faster than the industry average.
Sales and Marketing: Today and the Future
Sales need to be focused on the now. You can’t run a company unless your sales team is focused on bringing in today’s business. But you can’t really ask your Sales leaders where the company should go next and to develop the 18-month plan to get there without losing focus on today’s revenue. Besides, if your sales executive was really good at developing future-focused business strategies and tying that strategy to the plans and tools of marketing to make it happen, they would be a marketing person and not a now-focused sales person.