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Sales versus Marketing - The War Nobody Wins

Strong sales and marketing function are pretty fundamental to any successful business - Get caught lacking in either department and you're unlikely to find success, but creating a sense of harmony between the two can be a bit of a challenge.

Conceptually, the relationship between the two functions is clear:

1. Marketing creates the brand and articulates the messaging around the value proposition of the product which it then tries to communicate to a wider audience in order to drive awareness and demand.

2. Sales then swoops in following this good work from marketing and accompanies prospective buyers through the sales process as well as creating some demand itself through outbound prospecting that is largely influenced by marketing-produced content and messaging. Simple.

However, in reality, the alignment between the two functions is often lacking and any failure in coordination can be fatal for startups and scale-ups alike. This is due to a number of reasons such as misaligned KPIs, competition for budgets, the list goes on. Whilst these factors are many, they're often hard to diagnose and even harder to solve for. Ultimately, a fractious relationship between sales and marketing is enough to kill any business with promise and whilst the 'banter' between the two can seem or feel natural, often it is symptomatic of deeper-rooted issues that should not be ignored.

Diagnosing the Problem

In diagnosing problems between your sales and marketing functions, it’s important to first understand the data. This can be done by conducting a detailed analysis of your sales and marketing funnel. Look at the data to see how many leads are being generated, how many of those leads are being qualified as Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), how many are then becoming Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), and how many are then closing.

Once you have a solid understanding of the data, it’s time to look at the processes in place between sales and marketing. Are the processes aligned and optimised to ensure the best possible outcomes? Are the right KPIs in place to ensure the right actions are taken? Do you see Marketing hitting all their KPIs and Sales failing miserably to hit theirs? Such a dissonance would be suggestive of a problem whereby marketing’s performance requirements do not feed into the overall revenue target of the business at the appropriate level.

Beyond the data, you should also consider the relationship between stakeholders in each team and whether that is helping or hindering the problem. How communicative are they? What is their relationship like? Do they speak frequently enough? Are they aware of each other’s challenges?

The Role of Planning

To resolve any misalignment found to exist between the sales and marketing functions, planning is key. The first step is to rigorously and consistently qualify leads, adhering to data-driven Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) throughout the marketing and sales funnels. More on that in the FAQs below.

In addition to lead qualification, marketing should also have a revenue target. This will make it easier for a business to plan around the quantity of leads required to generate sufficient opportunity to hit commercial targets.

However, diving into the data in such depth can be challenging, and modelling the complex nature of B2B sales in a spreadsheet will likely lead to an overly simplified plan. Instead, it’s important to seek out more scientific and accessible tools to help with this process.


Planning around the lags and challenges of hiring can be a planning nightmare, and one that at Clevenue we believe can't be properly done in a spreadsheet.

Using technology to better predict all of the moving parts in sales capacity & hiring planning can help elevate business growth and profitability.


Q: Why is the alignment between sales and marketing important for B2B SaaS companies?

A: The alignment between sales and marketing is important for B2B SaaS companies because it drives the growth and success of the business. A strong alignment between the two functions ensures that leads are qualified and nurtured correctly, leading to more conversions and ultimately, more revenue for the business.

Q: How can I diagnose if there is a problem between my sales and marketing functions?

A: To diagnose if there is a problem between your sales and marketing functions, it’s important to understand the data. This can be done by conducting a detailed analysis of your sales and marketing funnel. Look at the data to see how many leads are being generated, how many of those leads are being qualified as Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), how many are being passed on to sales, and how many are closing as customers. By comparing this data to your revenue targets and desired conversion rates, you can see if there are any bottlenecks in the process. It's also helpful to gather feedback from both sales and marketing teams to identify any misalignments in goals, processes, or communication. By taking a data-driven approach and having open communication, you can diagnose any issues and develop a plan to improve the relationship between your sales and marketing functions.

Q: How can I create Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs)?

A: Creating an ideal customer profile (ICP) should be a collaborative process between sales and marketing that leverages data from customer data, sales data, marketing data, and external sources. Perform data analysis to identify common characteristics, behaviors, and purchasing patterns of successful customers. Use this information to create a detailed ICP, which should then be integrated into your sales and marketing strategy. Utilize CRM systems, marketing automation platforms, and customer feedback surveys to gather and analyze customer data to refine your ICP over time. A well-defined ICP is essential for effective lead gen and qualification, improving conversion rates.

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