What is the difference between a B2B marketing strategy and a B2B sales strategy?

Break down the differences between a B2B marketing strategy and a B2B sales strategy.

We’ve seen the benefits of sales and marketing alignment pay off for our clients across industries ranging from software and financial services to engineering and commercial contracting. But no matter what business you’re in, you need to fully understand the purpose and differences between a B2B marketing strategy and a B2B sales strategy to ensure that yours are working together to maximize growth.

So what’s the difference?

A marketing strategy plans how you’ll reach and engage your target audience; a sales strategy plans how you’ll convert those prospects into customers.

Your marketing strategy should be crafted to find your ideal prospects, generate interest in your solution, and build awareness for your brand. The goal is to promote the right message at the right time to the right person.

Your sales strategy should map out how you will identify and empathize with a prospect’s pain points, position your product or service as the optimal solution, and ultimately convert them into buyers. The goal is overcome objections and make your prospects realize the unique value you provide. Both marketing and sales are necessary elements of the buyer’s journey — the series of steps from awareness to purchase.

To optimize how your marketing and sales strategies work together to move prospects along the buyer’s journey more quickly, you need to analyze both how they are different and how they are connected.

Understand the why
The purpose of a marketing strategy is to define and achieve your marketing goals. Focusing on your goals enables your entire team to rally around what you want to achieve and makes it easier to identify the best programs and campaigns to invest in. Always ask yourself and your team this question: “How will this contribute to our goal?”

The purpose of a sales strategy is to create the smoothest path for turning prospects into customers. It guides how you communicate with the people who are most likely to purchase. The best B2B sales strategies should also map out how you can turn more new customers into referral sources and repeat buyers.

Master the what
The elements of a marketing strategy are:

  • Company vision and mission
  • Goals
  • Value proposition
  • Buyer personas
  • Competitive landscape
  • Positioning
  • Messaging

The elements of a sales strategy are:

  • Prospecting
  • Lead tracking
  • Channel support
  • Opportunity tracking
  • Forecasting
  • Messaging

It is crucial that your messaging is aligned across marketing and sales!

Plan the when
Your marketing strategy should be continuously evolving. (If you are juggling random tactics, stop.) You need to map a clear strategy that ladders up to your goals in the short term and on an ongoing basis for the long term. Since marketing has the greatest impact at the beginning of the buyer’s journey and can thus help inform your sales strategy, it is ideal if your marketing strategy is completed first. The best B2B marketing strategy also takes a test, learn and optimize approach, so it is important to periodically evaluate your marketing strategy to make adjustments based on any changes to your goals, competitive landscape, budgets, tools or other resources.

Your sales strategy usually has a more short-term focus. To achieve the greatest results, it should build upon and be completed after your marketing strategy. (Although your teams can and should work on both your strategies collaboratively.) You should seek feedback about your sales process from both prospects who did not convert and as many of your customers as possible, so that you can continue to optimize your sales strategy whether your sales team is surpassing their sales goals or not.

Know the how
The key to a successful marketing strategy is effective communication, but not just with your target audience. Just as important is communicating clearly with your marketing team, your executives and the rest of the company. It is vital to ensure that everyone understands how your marketing strategy will help achieve business goals.

The most successful B2B sales strategies build on the groundwork laid by marketing, by focusing sales efforts on the qualified prospects who are most likely to purchase. With an emphasis on the prospect’s pain points and reframing their consideration set, your sales strategy will be more effective.

Creating clear and aligned marketing and sales strategies will increase the performance and job satisfaction of both your marketing team and your sales team. And it will drive better business results!

For tips on how to craft the best B2B marketing strategy and how to align your marketing and sales messaging, see this blog post.

Blender is a full-service B2B marketing agency focused on accelerating growth for clients in manufacturing, healthcare, software and professional services. If you have any questions, we’re here to help.

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