Marketing

Sales vs. marketing: Who’s out-innovating whom?

Last month, Brian Kardon argued that marketing technology is out-innovating sales technology.

Unfortunately, he’s dead wrong.

Kardon grossly underestimates the innovation that’s currently disrupting sales, possibly because he defines “sales technology” as being limited to customer relationship management (CRM). While CRM companies like Salesforce1, Pipedrive, Base, and Insightly are indeed innovating, they represent only a fraction of all sales technology.

In marketing, the advent of metrics and data in recent years has spurred the marketing automation movement. In sales, metrics and data are driving the creation of new performance-boosting tools in an emerging category called “sales acceleration.”

These tools are less about automation and more about using newly available data sources to drive concrete sales numbers. They allow the modern salesperson to work strategically instead of leaning on the guesswork that has festered for decades at the core of common sales processes: When should I call? How should I time my emails? Why did that subject line succeed while this one flopped? Did my prospect even read that email? Sales acceleration technology is allowing us to definitively answer these questions for the first time.

Sales has long been the most-measured area of companies because its connection to the bottom line is direct and obvious. However, it is only in recent years that new technology has enabled sales managers to measure the process as carefully as the sale itself.

Automation and other innovations in marketing have helped improve the quality of leads handed over to sales. But Kardon is wrong when he implies that marketing tools can handle the bulk of the problems that salespeople face. Sales needs dedicated tools to shape better strategies for sales calls, presentations, emails, compensation, and more. That’s where sales acceleration comes into play.

There’s no mystery about why the demand for sales acceleration tools is growing. These tools help companies make more money. And sales acceleration is not just about reducing costs; it’s about helping salespeople grow the top line by sending the right message at the right time to the best prospects.

Here’s a snapshot of the sales acceleration ecosystem, organized by deal stage. A small portion of the market measured by analysts — tools for phone, email, and meetings — is worth billions of dollars. The entire sales acceleration category is surely even bigger.

Sales tools landscape

Above: Sales tools landscape

Last year, companies paid out more than $650 billion in sales commissions. Every sales person is fighting for a bigger slice of that $650 billion, but the total pie only grows as fast as the global economy. Relying on global economic growth is not a winning strategy for salespeople who want more commision. Instead, they are turning to sales acceleration tools to help win their fair share.

Kardon is right to say that marketing innovation is growing, but he’s wrong to imply that the importance of sales or the need for new sales tools is shrinking. Marketing and sales each have their own set of problems being addressed by technology, and both will continue to play an important part in driving revenue.

The question is not whether marketing or sales is innovating faster, but whether they’re innovating in tandem. With our technology and our people pulling in the same direction, we can lift our companies to new heights together.

Matthew Bellows is the CEO of Yesware. He is responsible for sales, product vision and strategic direction of the company. As a founder of the company, Matthew brings more than 10 years of extensive sales experience to the company’s goal of helping salespeople close more deals faster.


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