Sales and Marketing Automation: How Do These Tools Work Together?


Are software for marketing automation and sales automation the same? Not really. While each software category has its own unique uses, we find it’s better to think of them as peanut butter and jelly — different, but made for each other. And just like how peanut butter and jelly are a staple of a good sandwich, sales marketing automation have become part of the evolving standard for good business. As technology advances, it leads to better analytics, more agile hardware platforms and more sophisticated software builds.

While the food comparison might make you hungry, it doesn’t do much to illuminate the differences between marketing and sales automation software, despite the fact that companies are investing plenty of capital in them. Let’s take a closer look at what separates these two essential tools and what they do for each other.

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graphic depicting sales marketing automation definition


What Is Sales Marketing Automation?

Professionals generally consider marketing automation to be an app, locally installed or web-based, that plays a pivotal role in a variety of marketing-related activities. These can include valuable marketing tactics like automated email marketing, lead nurturing/scoring, return on investment analysis, expanded CRM capabilities and more. Whether sales are being conducted online or offline, marketing automation can take on truckloads of work with just a little pre-planning and foresight. It won’t put your marketing team out of business — it’ll help lighten their load.

For example, one of the most common and fundamental parts of marketing automation is email marketing automation tools. Email marketing automation can isolate and define sets of customers who may be receptive to a certain message. Companies can use A/B testing or analytics to figure out how to craft marketing emails and make them more effective.

Let’s say you’ve got a diverse pool of customers, and you’re selling pet food. You’d want to send out a coupon to all of your customers to entice them to buy, and encourage them to subscribe to your pet food delivery service. This is where A/B testing comes in.

You’ll select a small segment of your market and test out an ‘A’ email. ‘A’ is focused on cats. Then you’ll send out a ‘B’ email, focused on dogs. Depending on the responses you get back from your A/B test, you’ll know which segment to target for greatest effect. A/B testing is also useful for sales, in that it assists your team in knowing how to communicate with their qualified leads.

Email marketing is just one part of what marketing automation software programs offer to companies. Other common areas of marketing automation involve:

  • Social marketing tools (post schedulers and brand watchers)
  • Landing page resources (like landing page generators)
  • Direct mail marketing software (such as customer databases)
  • Lead generation tools (blogging and SEO tools)
  • Postcard marketing tools (visual software for designing)
  • Web analytics programs (visual software for measuring results)
  • Customer tracking tools (viewing customer journeys across your page)

Several of the best marketing automation platforms deliver many of these features and more. Including social media, email and other channels into a single automation platform can decrease labor for a marketing department, and also provide key business intelligence concerning certain marketing campaigns.

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A business that is attempting to expand their marketing strategies can use marketing automation to make their internal processes as effective as possible. They can also use marketing automation to scale up quickly and efficiently.

What Is Sales Automation?

Sales automation, otherwise known as sales force automation or SFA is built around assisting human sales agents — and the human touch is what makes all the difference in the sales game, as any professional will tell you. It gears the assets, tools, frameworks and resources of these products towards a complex sales process involving massive volumes of sales. For this reason, many of these tools are directly related to sales tasks in an intuitive and uniquely human way.

Salesforce Dashboard with graphs and charts

A Salesforce dashboard

Order processing is the most common part of SFA. Any sales professional worth their salt will tell you that processing orders automatically brings tangible value to both e-commerce and brick and mortar operations, as it lets them quickly meet the customer’s needs. Some sales automation platforms also have components such as inventory monitoring tools and sales analytics, which are equally valuable.

Sales automation tools and customer relationship management platforms (CRMs) may seem similar at first, but they are in fact very different from one another. The main difference is that customer relationship management platforms are created for the sole purpose of enhancing contact with customers, while sales automation tools are aimed at assisting the sales process. We’ve got a helpful article that helps summarize the differences quite nicely, but if you’d rather read on, we’ll do a quick breakdown.

The sales process is about one individual (the salesperson) communicating to another person, and that’s what sales tools assist in. Sales automation tools can help your team quickly act on a successful marketing campaign with personalized communication with the customer. Think of sales automation tools as closer to marketing automation tools.

Compared to a sales automation tool, a CRM nurtures leads from start to close. They …

  • Store customer contact information
  • Qualify or disqualify leads
  • Nurture leads from beginning to end (and not just when they purchase)
  • Report on customer data and sales success
  • Track funnel activity

Both platforms typically include customer behavior dashboards as well as interfaces that salespeople can use to reach customers in a more active way.

What do we mean by active way? Well, as any good salesperson will tell you, they select a lead not based on where they appear alphabetically in a long list of leads, but on best fit. It’s easy to burn a lead when you’re blurring down a list of potential customers and trying to make them fit to your sales model, versus selecting the most apt targets at the time.We call these qualified leads.

Sales automation tools, ironically, are tailor-made to help humanize the sales process. They’ll analyze a list of user-defined or pre-generated customer criteria and assign scores to leads. Professionals and software vendors call this “lead scoring,” and it’s a vital part of both marketing automation and sales automation. It helps you prioritize contacts and assist them in their buyer’s journey, rather than trying to mold them to fit your criteria.

Working Together By Blending Marketing Automation, Sales Automation and CRM into ERP

Most times, these individual services are a part of a greater umbrella of enterprise software. The entire enterprise software set may be referred to as enterprise resource planning (ERP) infrastructure.

These software programs accomplish their own unique goals. The marketing automation programs steadily work to enhance marketing campaigns and nurture leads so that they can become more qualified

The sales automation programs work to send digital data where it needs to go for order fulfillment or allow salespeople to communicate better with customers. Customer relationship management data often stays in the background for long-term analysis, illuminating the reality around how individual customers interact with the business.

Integrating standalone solutions into a single platform can produce actionable results, like versatile business intelligence that applies to your entire business plan. Sales personnel working with sales automation tools will get important datasets out of the CRM system, or even better, a CDP (if you have one). Marketing can go back and look at what’s selling within the business to redraft a marketing campaign. This is an acting definition of the collaborative context of enterprise automation — one individual tool can have a direct impact on other processes indirectly related to it.

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Sales and marketing automation are two great ways to drive better business outcomes. They independently meet the needs of their clients and customers, and in tandem, work together to create a perfect sandwich of better business results. Our only question is: what do you think your business could do with these platforms?

Jason KellerSales and Marketing Automation: How Do These Tools Work Together?


Join the conversation
  • Augentia - August 5, 2017 reply

    Nice information! Very helpful to grow a business.


  • Irsa Chaudhary - September 24, 2018 reply

    Sales automation softwares such as CRM software can really help out automating the process.

  • Peter Jackson - December 6, 2019 reply

    Thank you for the article.

    Jason Keller - December 9, 2019 reply

    Hi Peter,
    You’re very welcome! Glad you enjoyed it! Let me know if you have any questions.

  • Annie May Jameson - June 10, 2020 reply

    This is a great article for understanding why we really need sales and marketing automation. Very clear and accessible presentation, thank you Jason!

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