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Sales Engagement Platforms vs. Marketing Automation Platforms: A Dynamic Duo for Revenue Teams


The B2B tech landscape is full of tools designed to make the lives of sales and marketing professionals easier. With both teams having a similar mission of turning prospects into buyers, you might think that sales engagement platforms and marketing automation platforms could be used interchangeably between these two GTM teams. Plus, with revenue leaders always pressing for greater alignment between sales and marketing, wouldn’t it make a lot of sense for both teams to use the same platform to communicate with customers?    

The short answer is no. There are actually big differences between these two types of platforms. If you’re trying to decide between a sales engagement platform like Groove, and a marketing automation platform like, Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (aka Pardot), or Adobe’s Marketo Engage, you need to take a step back to understand how these two platforms actually complement each other.

Marketing Automation Platforms are crucial for demand generation and one-to-many mass communications, while Sales Engagement Platforms are focused on boosting seller productivity and increasing lead conversions and revenue through personalized 1:1 messages. Most B2B revenue teams would actually benefit from using both. 

So what’s the difference between sales engagement and marketing automation platforms? And why should you invest in both?

This article will explain the respective roles that sales engagement platforms and marketing automation platforms play in prospect and customer communications. Additionally, it will detail the benefits of using your sales engagement and marketing automation platforms together to drive revenue growth and align your sales and marketing efforts. 

Sales Engagement Platforms: Empowering Sales Teams

Sales engagement platforms enable sales teams to streamline their workflows, prioritize tasks, prospect efficiently, and measure and optimize results. Sales engagement platforms  are designed to address the specific communication needs of sales professionals, allowing them to engage prospects through personalized conversations across email, phone, SMS, and LinkedIn. By adopting a Sales Engagement Platform, organizations empower their sales teams to follow up on leads swiftly, land emails in prospects’ inboxes, conduct calls quickly and efficiently, and ultimately increase the number of booked meetings and closed deals.

Equally important, sales engagement platforms ensure that all sales activity is logged back to a CRM like Salesforce. Essential capabilities like advanced activity capture automatically track emails, phone calls, meetings, transcripts, and more. Having a complete view of all sales activity gives reps the context they need to effectively personalize their outreach while also providing leadership with the visibility they need to coach reps, optimize performance, and measure results

Differentiating Sales Engagement Platforms from Marketing Automation

While Marketing Automation Platforms excel at generating leads from marketing campaigns, they fall short when it comes to personalized, two-way communication that effectively engage a prospect through a complicated buyer’s journey. 

Sales engagement platforms complement marketing automation platforms by seamlessly enabling sales reps to follow up with leads that have responded to a marketing campaign. Put another way, marketing automation helps generate leads, while sales engagement platforms ensure that every inbound lead is effectively followed up with, nurtured, and, ultimately, converted. 

Let’s look at an example of marketing automation and sales engagement platforms working together:

  1. Mary visits ACME’s website and, while downloading a helpful guide, she provides her contact info and opts in to receive marketing communications. 
  2. ACME’s marketing team then adds Mary to a six-month, multi-step nurture campaign powered by a marketing automation platform to share helpful information until she’s ready to buy. 
  3. After a few months, Mary starts clicking on more marketing campaigns and engages with the chatbot on the ACME website. The marketing automation platform captures these engagements and assigns a lead score that is captured in Salesforce. 
  4. Triggers have been set up in the sales engagement platform to automatically assign a task for a sales rep to follow up with a pre-approved template based on engagement with campaigns powered by the marketing automation platform.
  5. The sales rep is presented with a multi-step sales flow across email, phone, and LinkedIn to effectively engage the prospect.
  6. The sales engagement platform logs every engagement to Salesforce, and can even add more contacts to the opportunity when the prospect adds colleagues to email threads or meeting invites.
  7. Once Mary becomes a customer, an account rep can use a sales engagement platform to easily follow up with 1:1 messages regarding renewals or expansion opportunities. At the same time, marketing can use marketing automation to send out official campaigns alerting Mary about discounts, new features, or special events. 
  8. With every engagement across sales and marketing, every activity is being logged back to the CRM to maximize alignment, customer satisfaction, and ROI.

As evident in the example above, using these two platforms together, sales and marketing can improve collaboration, lead quality, and overall alignment. 

Alignment cannot be achieved without data, and both platforms capture critical information for determining the effectiveness of an organization’s sales and marketing campaigns. Engagement with marketing campaigns help determine a prospect’s lead score and focus sales outreach on prospects who have demonstrated a propensity to buy.

Sales Engagement vs. Marketing Automation Capabilities

At first glance, sales engagement and marketing automation platforms might seem to have similar features, but they are actually quite different. Here’s a breakdown of the key capabilities of both platforms:


Key Sales Engagement Capabilities Key Marketing Automation Capabilities
Revenue intelligence Capture all sales activity in the CRM to enable collaboration and gain transparency between reps, managers, and revenue operations Email Marketing One-off or triggered emails to engage or nurture prospects before they are ready to buy/
Multi-Step Sales Flows Enable reps to scale their outreach with highly multi-step, multi-channel campaigns personalized with rich CRM data Omnichannel Marketing Engage prospects with unified messaging across all online and offline channels (e.g. email, social, digital advertising, etc.)
Email & Calendar Integration Boost productivity and remove friction from the sales process by bringing valuable CRM data to a rep’s inbox and calendar   Lead Capture Forms Capture data from new prospects or progressively profile existing contacts
Sales Dialer and SMS Streamline phone and text outreach with an automated dialer that optimizes performance and logs activity Lead Scoring Assign a value to prospects based on engagement with marketing campaigns
Conversation Intelligence Enable reps to record, transcribe, and analyze every sales call and log the content back to the right activities and opportunities in the CRM Landing Page Creation and Management Create custom landing pages to capture lead contact information and track campaign performance
Reporting & Analytics Gain insight into team performance and what activities, Flows, templates, and more are generating the highest levels of interaction with customers and prospects. Campaign Reporting Report on the performance of integrated marketing campaigns


Marketo Platform

Marketing automation platforms like Marketo have complicated UIs designed for marketers to orchestrate and execute mass-market campaigns.

Access Salesforce and LinkedIn from Your Inbox

Sales engagement platforms, like Groove, integrate seamlessly into a seller’s workflow to enable them easily scale their outreach with personalized 1:1 messages.

Limitations of Marketing Automation for Sales

Marketing automation platforms possess valuable features for generating leads, but they lack the flexibility and personalization required to nurture effective 1:1 sales communications. Key limitations include:

  1. Lack of 1:1 Personalization: Marketing automation platforms offer standardized email templates that can feature personalization by persona, industry, or macro demographics, but they lack the flexibility needed for 1:1 conversations.
  2. Email Delivery Challenges: Sending emails from a marketing-owned domain or a third-party server increases the likelihood of being caught in spam filters, reducing email deliverability.
  3. Opt-in Requirement: CAN-SPAM, GDPR, and other global privacy regulations require marketers to only send campaigns to prospects who have opted in to receive them. 
  4. Sent from an Organization – Most campaigns come from an email address like, and even if marketing uses an email alias to represent a real employee, any replies or engagement will be with marketing and not the sales rep.
  5. Steep Learning Curve: Marketing automation platforms can be complex and time-consuming to learn. It would be very inefficient to provide sales teams with the training they’d need to be successful – especially given the larger team sizes and high turnover rate associated with sales teams.   
  6. Channel Limitations: While marketing automation platforms excel in mass email communications, they do not support multi-channel prospecting strategies that also involve phone calls and text messages, as well as LinkedIn messaging and connection requests.

The Power of Integrated Sales Engagement and Marketing Automation

Using sales engagement and marketing automation platforms together creates a formidable alliance that drives revenue growth and strengthens the bond between sales and marketing teams. Marketing automation platforms generate inbound leads and score prospects, while sales engagement platforms enable sales representatives to leverage personalized engagement techniques to convert those leads into customers. This unified approach allows sales and marketing teams to appreciate and leverage each other’s contributions, fostering a cohesive and thriving business ecosystem.

Leveraging Sales Engagement Platforms for Personalized Interactions

Sales engagement platforms excel in personalization, tailoring each interaction based on the specific needs and actions of buyers. These platforms leverage AI and integrate with CRM and other systems to enable sales reps to make data-driven decisions and guide prospects through the sales process more effectively. With features like multi-step/multi-channel cadences, advanced activity capture, CRM inbox integration, and conversation and revenue intelligence, sales engagement platforms empower reps to create personalized experiences for prospects, accelerating the closing of deals and ensuring consistent and reliable growth. 

Better Together

In a highly competitive business landscape, using sales engagement platforms and marketing automation platforms together can help revenue teams improve their win rates through effective sales and marketing alignment. 

By recognizing the strengths and limitations of each platform, organizations can create a cohesive workspace that drives revenue growth, fosters personalized interactions, and empowers sales teams to effectively nurture and convert leads. Embracing this unified approach enables organizations to transcend the divide between sales and marketing, fostering collaboration, and achieving sustainable success in the modern sales environment. 

For more information on how to use a sales engagement platform, like Groove, with an existing marketing automation platform like Pardot, Marketo, or Hubspot, request a demo today.

G2 Sales Engagement Software Report

Learn why Groove is leading the pack, and how the top providers are ranked across several criteria, including user satisfaction and placement in G2’s proprietary Grid® Report.

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