The evolution of the relationship between marketing and sales

Updated: Jun 14

Introduction: the convergence of marketing and sales

In the past, sales have always taken centre stage, receiving affirmation for perhaps being a more valuable, relevant and important function than its less favourable cousin - marketing.

Marketing has traditionally played the best supporting role, a core component for success but always in the shadow of the key driver - sales.

Marketing has traditionally been seen as a substructure. Sales have been in the limelight due to their tangible impact on the bottom line, often discarding marketing as a background player, perhaps not gaining the attention or praise it deserves.

However, over the years, this relationship has changed. We now see the relationship between marketing and sales tighten, working side by side, both of equal importance, both contributing equal measured effect (over the past 16 months, one could even claim that the relevance of marketing has even surpassed sales). There has been a notable change in dynamic, a change in merit driven by several factors.

Marketing in the corporate landscape

Marketing functions are now considered a driving component in not only working alongside sales, as opposed to merely “supporting” sales but also playing a much more quantifiable role in driving customer experience across multiple channels. Looking at financial services, marketing has played a pivotal role in accelerating client-contact engagement strategies. Covid has demonstrated the importance of marketing within finance, as online engagement continues to develop as a key driver for business and income generation. Personalisation and user experience have become a particular focus for financial services, and a lot of resources are now being deployed to gain the attention and retention of the customer.

The rise of marketing through innovation

So how has this balance of power shifted more towards marketing? What has triggered this shift of sentiment? One answer is innovation. Innovation has been paving the way for the rise of marketing over the years. New businesses offering innovative solutions need strong marketing strategies to bring these concepts to market.

Innovation must be paired with marketing to commercialise. If there is no marketing, these tech companies ultimately remain in the ether. Despite the revolutionary technology, such businesses need contextualised and relevant to a customer base.

Breakthrough products operating on the top end of the innovation spectrum will require rigorous marketing. These groundbreaking startups will require a lot of marketing expertise as some businesses will define new areas of existing sectors or paradigms of commerce entirely. When changing consumer mindsets, significant marketing efforts are required to adopt an innovative or totally new product or service. Marketing should always consider the entire customer experience for innovative and groundbreaking technologies that require a modern or radical approach to gaining traction.

It is clear that marketing has not only caught up with sales in terms of value-add recognition but also, in some contexts, surpassed sales as a necessary function for bringing innovative tech companies to market and even aiding traditional finance companies gain traction during Covid.


Marketing is a clear metric to define customer success and lead generation. Across traditional and upcoming sectors, various marketing strategies are now at the forefront of company priorities, as opposed to marketing’s previous role as a support function to sales. Marketing is used to increase engagement, build awareness, and drive lead generation whilst improving customer experience. It is being deployed at the forefront of traditional sectors and as a crucial primary strategy for tech startups looking to gain market share and identify and capture an audience. Marketing has morphed from the once ancillary function into the front seat of driving growth and innovation for corporates and agile businesses.

Sources: PWC