Sales · · 9 min read

Sales Vs. Marketing: Why Marketing-First Works Best

Sales vs marketing shouldn’t be a debate. Discover how aligning sales and marketing strategies boosts revenue for SaaS companies.

sales vs marketing

Which brings more revenue—marketing or sales? The truth is both are needed to grow your business. Marketing brings in leads, and sales teams turn leads into paying customers. 

Here’s another truth that many overlook: the better the marketing, the less effort sales need to close. You can’t flip this and say better sales require less marketing, especially in SaaS.

Industries like B2B SaaS have more knowledgeable customers. They want to make informed decisions. That’s why go-to-market strategies often revolve around product-led growth. 

Does that mean marketing is better than sales? Yes! (In most cases). However, there are nuances you need to understand to optimize your marketing and sales strategies better. 

In this guide, we’ll go over the key differences between sales and marketing and how to synergize both departments to generate more revenue. But first, we need to learn:

  • Why focusing on marketing is better than focusing on sales
  • Marketing vs. sales roles
  • The sales process vs. marketing process
  • How to align sales and marketing
  • Best practices for sales and marketing

Why Focusing on Marketing is Better Than Focusing On Sales?

sales and marketing

Let us preface this by saying that while a marketing-focused strategy is better overall, that doesn’t mean you can skip developing a quality sales team. 

Focusing on marketing allows you to convey value persuasively through different channels. This could be through a social media post, an article, or a business proposal email

You want to contextualize your value before selling, especially when doing cold outreach. We’re used to rejecting sales pitches, especially from generic cold emails.

With marketing, you can contextualize your product’s value through your positioning, branding, social proof, messaging, and reputation. All of these create a positive perception of your brand. 

Once prospects understand the value you bring to their business and see you as a trustworthy authority in your industry, even the most straightforward closing techniques can convert them to a sale. 

What are the Different Roles For Marketing and Sales

While there is overlap between marketing and sales, each has unique roles and skill sets that serve a specific purpose throughout your prospects’ purchasing journey. 

Sales Roles 

The typical sales department includes sales reps, managers, specialists, account executives, and customer support. Here’s a quick look at their responsibilities. 

Sales representatives: Sales development representatives (SDRs) talk to your prospects remotely or in person. They also do cold calling or cold email outreach. SDRs are tasked with nurturing prospects and identifying unique pain points your products can solve. 

Sales managers: When there are 8-10 SDRs, sales managers can keep everybody aligned and ensure reps have all the tools and resources they need to follow their sales strategy. They also handle sales targets, customer data analysis, and forecasting

Sales specialist: Specialists or consultants have in-depth knowledge about your products and services. They’re tasked with product-specific market and competitor research, walking prospects through product demos, and troubleshooting. 

Account executives: Account executives (AEs) are higher-level SDRs focusing on acquisition, creating email sequences, client negotiations, and closing strategies. Sometimes, AEs can be full-cycle reps who assist and nurture prospects from the top to the bottom of sales funnels. 

Customer support: Providing value doesn’t stop after the sale. A dedicated support staff ensures high customer retention rates and helps forge a positive and lasting relationship between your customers and your brand. 

Marketing Roles

Marketing teams consist of people who can contextualize the value your products and services bring. These include writers, designers, social media and SEO specialists, and email marketers. 

Brand strategists: Brand strategists help your brand answer the question: “What does our brand bring to the table?” They align the content to your answer, helping you improve the perception of your brand, products, and services. 

Channel strategists: Marketers use several channels to reach your ideal audience. It could be through social media, SEO, paid advertising, or email marketing. These channels help you nurture, engage, and provide value to prospects.

Public relations specialists: The media can directly sway public perception. PR specialists help you contact media outlets, allowing you to raise brand awareness on a much larger scale. 

Lead generation, acquisition, and retention: Lead generation specialists build your ideal customer profiles and buyer personas and find leads that fit the description. They also help manage sales pipelines using sales management tools and best practices. 

The Sales Process Vs. The Marketing Process

The marketing process focuses on brand building and reaching a wider audience. Marketers are tasked with illustrating how your brand’s products or services are the perfect solution to pain points.

More importantly, a marketing team must identify and segment the target audience that gains the most value from your offerings. 

Sales teams convert prospects from marketing campaigns to paying customers. They’re tasked with sales lead management, utilizing tools for closing sales, and outlining strategies that can be used as templates for every prospect. Marketing and sales also have different goals.

Sales focus on volume and target-based goals, prospects’ short-term financial-based objectives, and revenue forecasting.

Marketing focuses on promoting your brand and communicating your value proposition to your target audience. It gives prospects insight into long-term goals and utilizes strategies for brand building, segmentation, and personalization to qualify leads for sales teams. 

How to Align Sales and Marketing

It is aligning sales and marketing results in a 34% increase in revenue. But as mentioned, it's better to focus on marketing first to deliver value to your prospects.

Studies in B2B SaaS show that the average customer prefers not to contact sales personnel until they’re 57% through the sales funnel. Start transitioning from a sales-driven funnel to a marketing-driven funnel by following these steps:

Create a Focused Customer Journey

The first step to aligning sales and marketing is restructuring the customer journey. Instead of separate funnels, sales and marketing should be tied together from awareness to brand loyalty. 

Doing so creates a holistic sales engagement process across your sales funnels, allowing marketing and sales to align resources to fulfill prospect needs. 

Leverage CRM tools to track prospects and monitor their progress down your pipelines. Businesses commonly use separate tools for CRMs and outreach.

Instantly combines both in one intuitive platform with Deal Flow.  

Develop a Buyer Persona

Sales and marketing must align their customer buyer personas. With unified buyer personas, marketing teams can streamline segmentation and qualification. Sales teams can then position value propositions to meet your personas' needs. 

Message messaging without a clear buyer persona won’t be unified across the customer journey. Marketing won’t be able to target leads effectively, leading to sales teams meeting with unqualified prospects. 

Buyer persona creation can be streamlined using lead intelligence tools like Instantly B2B Finder. Users can leverage advanced filters and tools like “Look alikes.” The Lookalikes tool finds companies similar to your customers, helping you build a robust company contact list.

Leverage Marketing-First Approach

Cold calls and emails aren’t effective if you’re focusing too much on trying to sell. The good news is that you can still leverage a marketing-first approach, even in cold sales emails. 

You do this by focusing on providing value to your prospects, hyper-personalizing your emails, and shifting your approach from salesperson to advisor. 

Email marketing is one of the best channels for utilizing a marketing-first approach because it gives you a direct line to your prospects. 

Track Joint Marketing and Sales KPIs

Aligning sales and marketing can be difficult because both have different KPIs. Sales teams typically measure metrics related to specific numbers—new accounts, deals closed, or renewed contracts. Marketing measures lead quality and quantity, brand awareness, and prospect engagement. 

Ensure that both departments have the same goals to align marketing and sales KPIs. Now, both can track joint metrics, with marketing KPIs complementing sales KPIs. For example, if you run a cold outreach campaign, you could find correlations between reply and conversion rates. 

Marketing Message Should Stay Consistent

Misaligned messaging can lead to serious “huh?” moments. In many cases, marketing refers to a feature, benefit, or product on their landing pages as one thing, but then sales call it another. 

You don’t want to confuse your prospects with misaligned messaging. Everything from the copy on your website to the content you post on social media must be aligned. 

Of course, messaging goes beyond terminology. How you present your offer also matters. You don’t want prospects telling your sales team, “But your website says. . .”

Now, you’re wasting time explaining why your website copy doesn’t match your offer, leading prospects to trust your brand less. Instead of addressing objections, you’re stuck addressing yourselves. That’s not a good look for any business. 

Use Marketing Assets As Sales Enablement Tools

Content marketing is king in B2B SaaS. Studies suggest that 90% of marketers use it as their primary digital marketing strategy. That’s because B2B SaaS customers are highly knowledgeable. They want to make informed purchasing decisions. 

Nurturing prospects with the right content allows them to contextualize the value you bring to their business for themselves. The issue is that many sales reps don’t know what content to send to which prospect. 

By creating content assets like white papers, benchmarks, or email marketing templates, sales teams can quickly find the right content to show prospects. Marketing can then continue nurturing to help nudge prospects further down your pipelines. 

sales engagement tools

Invest In Post-Sale Customer Support and Retention

Retaining customers is more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. You can’t rely solely on lead generation to grow revenue. SuperOffice says customer acquisition costs 6- 7 times more than customer retention. 

Businesses usually get more revenue from existing customers than new ones. Sales and marketing should work together to improve a customer's lifetime value (CLTV). The best way to do so is to invest in post-sale customer support. 

After your sales team closes a deal and earns you a new customer, marketing should do post-nurturing campaigns. Provide customers with the proper onboarding, content, and recommendations on utilizing your products to meet their needs. 

Marketing should also segment new customers and use intent data to provide relevant upsell or cross-sell recommendations to improve the average order value (AOV). Sales teams should also be ready to address any concerns about your products or services. 

Best Practices for Aligning Sales and Marketing

sales enablement

Now that we understand the differences between sales and marketing and how they can align, let’s look at the best practices to ensure both departments run efficiently and optimally. 

Clearly Define Steps in the Marketing and Sales Funnels.

Funnels guide prospects toward a sale. Clearly defining the steps in your sales and marketing funnels helps you align both departments for a more holistic purchasing journey. 

Marketing teams start the funnel with brand awareness through content marketing, lead generation, or initial cold outreach. 

Sales teams then follow up on prospects showing high buying intent. When prospects are ready for a call, SDRs begin the discovery process. 

Discovery provides account executives with the exact information they need to help them position their offer as the prospects’ ultimate solution to their pain points. 

Companies that integrate marketing into the overall sales funnel support your sales team in prospecting, developing value propositions, and providing marketing assets. 

Align Revenue Targets and Rewards For Sales and Marketing

Sales and marketing should share responsibility for hitting revenue targets. Both departments must focus on conversion rates and improving marketing-influenced revenue.

Another way to align revenue targets is to implement revenue attribution systems that help track the impact of sales and marketing. Lead intelligence tools can track customer behavior across marketing and sales channels. 

Compensation is also a complex topic but is necessary to promote collaborations between marketing and sales teams.

Sales compensation is straightforward and primarily based on commissions—marketers don’t. Management must review their policies and find ways to integrate fair compensation for both departments. 

Split Marketing Into Strategic and Tactical Groups

Tactical or downstream marketers focus on developing ads, content marketing collaterals, case studies, and utilizing business development tools. They help sales with prospecting, qualification, and segmentation. 

Downstream marketers leverage market research, customer feedback, and advice from sales reps to align messaging across multiple marketing channels, promote products in new markets, and develop better sales tools. 

Strategic or upstream marketers are tasked with prospect engagement. They focus on understanding the wants and needs of your target audience.

Instead of focusing on immediate sales, upstream marketers aim to build long-term relationships with prospects, identify market opportunities and threats, and identify potential markets to penetrate. 

Key Takeaways

Sales and marketing are necessary for sustainable growth. Both have their roles, objectives, and processes.

When you focus on marketing, your sales team requires less effort to close, and when you align marketing and sales, you generate more revenue than with a siloed approach. 

To recap, here are some key details you might’ve missed: 

  • Both sales and marketing’s goal is to generate revenue for your business
  • To align marketing and sales, create a focused customer journey, develop a clear buyer persona, and leverage a marketing-first approach to sales 
  • Each step of the customers’ journey must be clearly defined
  • Marketing supports sales efforts by providing assets that help nurture prospects
  • Email marketing is the best channel for using a market-first approach

Both sales and marketing can leverage email marketing to its fullest potential. To reach the full potential of your email campaigns, sales and marketing teams need the right tools. That’s where Instantly comes in! Start scaling your business today

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