Marketing for Startups: Can Marketing Replace Sales?

Marketing for Startups: Can Marketing Replace Sales?

A few days ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop talking to a founder of The Commons, an amazing Milwaukee organization that accepts students from 23 area universities, has them work on real-world projects and teaches them to be entrepreneurs. There is no shortage of mentors to work with these students, except in one area: marketing.

Why is that? While we discussed this issue, I came to the realization that marketing in practice and real-life marketing for startups and other companies are two completely different animals. Of course, as a marketer that works with startups, I’ve known this for some time, but vocalizing the difference between marketing and marketing for startups made me realize a real shift in the marketing tides.

Marketing today requires a sales and marketing hybrid.

5 years ago, bridging the gap between sales and marketing was a huge conversation topic—and it still is. Why is that?

  • Sales says: Marketing promises leads, then doesn’t deliver, or at least doesn’t make sales aware of what they’re delivering.
  • Marketing says: We deliver leads and sales doesn’t follow up fast enough—if at all.
  • Sales says: Marketing leads aren’t qualified enough or quality enough for us.
  • Marketing says: We’re not getting any help from sales to understand how to qualify leads.
  • The list goes on (and on and on and on).

We’ve come a long way in bridging this gap.

Marketing today is less about awareness and more about lead generation, a business function that historically resides with sales. Marketing companies search for sales-minded marketers to write quick, concise copy and execute campaigns that drive prospects to action. Marketers are held to lead generation metrics that reside at the very top of the sales funnel. We’re responsible for filling that funnel with marketing-qualified leads to ensure success.

Here’s my suggestion: The solution in this scenario might not be building a bridge between two departments; it might be combining them.

Can marketing actually replace sales?

In some cases, such as when marketing for startups that sell exclusively online, the answer is yes.

Have you ever signed up for a paid or free-to-paid service like Buffer, Trello, Todoist and the like? Did you talk to a salesperson? I already know your answer (it’s “no”), because for companies like these, marketing has completely replaced their sales process. It’s absolutely amazing to me to see that marketing is so powerful that it can take customers from the first time they hear about a tool all the way to a sale, driven by smart campaigns, metric testing and tracking, and other marketing activities.

Case marketing replace all sales teams? In other cases, such as enterprise sale, the answer is no—or not yet.

I wrote a few weeks ago about inbound marketing replacing cold calling, and that’s already happening—at least it is for our clients. I see marketing automating much of the process: lead generation, the demo, even the sales outreach process. However, in most cases, the marketing community hasn’t figured out a way to completely replace the sales process from beginning to end.

What are your thoughts on this topic, can marketing truly replace sales? What is your company doing to automate the sales process with marketing? If you are looking to amp up your marketing efforts as a startup or entrepreneur, contact Milwaukee marketing agency, Accelity Marketing.