Marketing vs. Sales Manager (With Steps and Salaries)

Updated 16 January 2023

Both marketing and sales managers lead their respective teams to reach new customers, nurture customer relationships and contribute to the profitability and longevity of the business. Though there are many similarities between these two roles, there are also significant differences. Understanding the scope of these positions is important to better inform your career search. In this article, we explain the role and scope of sales and marketing managers and highlight key differences and details about the positions.

Related: What Does a Marketing and Sales Professional Do? (With Skills)

Marketing vs. sales managers

When considering which role to pursue, you may be wondering about the similarities and differences between marketing vs. sales managers. They both support overall company success by cultivating demand and profits. Marketing and sales managers have specific ways of contributing to that success, with some overlap between roles. Familiarising yourself with the scope of these positions can help you determine which position might be a better fit for your career goals. Explore the following definitions of each position:

Marketing manager

Marketing describes activities related to generating interest in a business's products or services. Marketing managers lead a department or team of other professionals to plan, develop, execute and evaluate marketing campaigns, strategies and products for a business. This role requires leadership skills in addition to expertise in the marketing field. Marketing managers often implement the big picture goals set by company leadership, supervising projects from idea to completion.

Read More: What Does a Marketing Manager Do? (And How to Be One)

Sales manager

Sales describes activities directly involved in the process of selling a business's products or services. This division in a company is responsible for completing successful customer transactions. A sales manager leads a department or team in meeting sales goals for the company. This role often includes budgeting, forecasting, planning goals and assessing success within their team. Sales managers are often also client-facing, building customer relationships out of transactions.

Related: What Does a Regional Sales Manager Do? (With Skills)

Key differences between the positions

Sales and marketing each address a different part of the sales process. There are several key differences between each role:

Job duties

You're likely to see these duties included in a marketing manager job description:

  • develop marketing plans based on industry best practices, market trends and company vision

  • collaborate with professionals within the company and department to generate demand for the business's products or services

  • evaluate marketing processes and procedures for efficiency, effectiveness and alignment with objectives set by the department and company leadership

  • plan and develop budgets that maximise the profit potential of each marketing campaign

  • delegate tasks and manage marketing team members for each campaign or project

  • create marketing assets and products that increase audience engagement

  • assess marketing activities for effectiveness and impact on sales and overall company budget

You're likely to see these duties included in a sales manager job description:

  • recruiting, training and developing growth in sales team members

  • staying current on industry and field trends and best practices for sales

  • evaluating sales techniques and strategies for effectiveness

  • presenting sales reports and planning sales goals

  • cultivating customer relationships and sales team motivation

  • meeting company sales goals


Marketing generates demand and engagement with a company's products or services. Professional marketers promote the company via its brand identity and the products or services it offers. These professionals may sometimes build brand identity through bold, identifiable design or a memorable advertising campaign. One popular method of developing a brand identity is through storytelling. It can be an easy way to connect to consumers on an emotional level by using narrative elements in marketing materials. Whichever method a marketing team chooses, the outcome of marketing is known as generating leads, which are customers in an interested audience.

Alternately, the sales department is responsible for generating profits for the company. Sales professionals increase profits by completing customer transactions in alignment with the timeframe and budget goals set by the company. Sales converts an interested potential customer into a buyer.


Marketing creates assets and products that increase engagement, like advertisements, online communities and collaborations with other brands and influencers. Marketers utilise websites, social media platforms, print material, video and other multimedia. These products can be targeted to segments of a company's audience to attract the most interested potential customers. Marketing can also increase customer loyalty and retention by building a brand identity that people can relate to and.

Sales uses interpersonal techniques to encourage customer purchases. This can involve developing relationships with customers or working to make the user experience of completing purchases efficient and easy to navigate. Successful sales professionals have an understanding of basic consumer psychology and can apply that knowledge to convert potential customers into buyers.

Related: Sales Manager Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips

Tech tools

Marketing and sales both require the use of common business operation software tools. Both departments are likely to utilise a company's customer relationship management (CRM) software for research, analysis and evaluation of their progress. Both fields may also utilise internal operations applications like payroll processing, company email or productivity clients.

Marketing frequently involves content creation, which may require programs capable of graphic design, desktop publishing and video or sound production. Sales utilises more office application programs like spreadsheet and word processing applications and invoicing, point of sale and inventory management.

Related: What Computer Skills Are Employers Seeking (Plus Examples)

Sales vs. marketing manager salaries

The average salary of sales managers is $5,027 per month, whereas the average salary for marketing managers is $5,393 per month. Sales managers do earn a slightly lower base salary than marketing managers on average, but that doesn't take into account performance bonuses, overtime, profit sharing or commissions. Both positions can potentially earn bonuses and other additional forms of income, but sales managers typically have a higher range of average additional forms of income than marketing managers.

How to become a marketing or sales manager

If you're interested in becoming a marketing or sales manager, try following these steps:

1. Complete your degree or certificate programme

Obtaining the minimum educational credentials employers require is important to secure sales or marketing management positions. Since both sales and marketing managers are management-level roles, they often require bachelor's degrees. There are also several professional certificates and diploma programmes, like the Retail and Sales Management certificate, that can help advance your knowledge in skills in the sales and marketing fields.

These programmes would also demonstrate professional growth when added to a bachelor's degree in a closely-related field, like business administration or management. Not all companies require a degree, but rather a combination of education and experience. You can learn more about your prospects and gain valuable knowledge and experience by researching the sales or marketing management positions, general job market outlook and industry and employment trends available in your desired location.

2. Leverage your knowledge, skills and experience

You could consider shadowing someone in the industry, applying for an internship or finding a mentor in the field to get a feel for the day-to-day routines and processes involved in being a sales or marketing manager. Joining professional networking groups or membership organisations in the field can also be a way to gain an inside perspective on the scope and responsibilities of either career path. Find successful sales and marketing managers sharing their knowledge online or in other media for valuable tips and insights.

Taking these additional steps demonstrates enthusiasm and motivation to potential employers, even if you don't have years of experience yet. Learn as much as you can about these positions to help you demonstrate your knowledge to the hiring manager.

Related: How to Get an Internship in 15 Steps

3. Sell yourself to employers

Your resume, application and interviews are all opportunities to market your best assets to potential employers. Research best practices and trends in hiring to adjust your process for submitting yourself for open sales and marketing manager openings. Make sure you notice the key values and prioritised competencies listed in the job posting and include similar word choices in your resume and cover letter.

Consider using additional services that can assist you with your job search. Workshops and consultations for resume reviews can help you sell yourself and convert potential employers to current employers. For additional support and guidance, consult with a career coach to help you present yourself to potential employers.

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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