Neither. Strategy comes first.

That’s because the effective driver of both is planned on a higher level and integrates them into one precision program. The market doesn’t care what function brings them the messages and information they are interested in, so the two should be invisible to the process.

Strategy is not a sales promotion. Not a publicity campaign. Not an ad campaign. Not a new branding identity or a new website. Those are tactics that should only be implemented after the overarching strategy has been designed.

The reason is simple: both sales and marketing need a focal point to target. To follow. And to use as a benchmark to determine success or failure. A good strategy example is a printing company that uses high quality to gain new customers. The marketing presents the brand messaging using appropriate design aesthetics and the sales staff presents this concept to close business. 

The terrific result of this integration is the printing company could become well-known for this quality. But there is a catch. If high quality is the wrong strategic positioning and the overall effort fails, it’s back to the drawing board with some negative equity to now deal with. This is why neither sales or marketing should make the strategic decisions for the company’s direction without executive management input and consent.

Strategy brings clarity. Strategy increases productivity. Strategy is without question the dominant factor of success.