Marketing strategies help firms achieve sales growth and tend to evolve from a company's culture. A sales-driven approach might be the most reasonable choice for some firms. Other companies achieve greater results with a market orientation. In "Is Your Business 'Sales' or 'Marketing' Driven?" author Les Atenberg says companies should combine both strategies, though most tend to choose one strategy over the other. A company's overall objectives, market conditions and focus will influence which strategy fits best.


Sales-driven firms focus on immediate results. A company that employs a sales-driven strategy wants to secure business as soon as possible and emphasizes convincing the customer to buy the product. In a sales-driven firm, sales representatives tend to highlight what the product can do for the customer. In contrast, a market-oriented firm concentrates on finding out what the customer needs and puts less emphasis on short-term results. With a market orientation, a firm seeks to position its product as distinctive and gently encourage the customer to buy.


Sales representatives in a sales-driven firm have a tendency to micromanage the sales process. They see each customer as either a potential success or a potential failure. The sales-driven strategy does not look at the big picture. A market orientation attempts to focus on the firm's entire customer base. Besides striving for long-term results, a strategy that is market-oriented includes a vision that spells out how the firm's product is going to be of value to the customer.

Customer Needs

One of the differences between sales-driven vs. market-oriented firms is the type of needs the strategies appeal to. A sales-driven approach appeals to a primary customer need. For example, a mass merchandise discount retailer appeals to the primary need for cost savings. The firm does not try to customize its product to meet a variety of needs. A market-oriented firm's strategy personalizes its products or services to appeal to a variety of secondary needs. An example would be a computer manufacturer that customizes hardware and software for each customer.


Since a sales-driven strategy seeks to yield quick results, price reductions and other financial incentives are common. This strategy may cause short-term sales to increase, but it may hurt the product's long-term credibility. In a market-oriented strategy, the incentive is the value of the relationship between the firm and the customers. The idea is to create superior value for the customer and keep adapting to changes in customer needs.