The numbers are staggering. 79% of all sales leads never convert to sales.
In business, not having your marketing and sales teams aligned is an expensive misstep. According to HubSpot, that amounts to $1 trillion a year in wasted marketing efforts and decreased sales productivity. How does landing 38% more deals and achieving 208% higher marketing revenue sound to your business’ bottom line? Pretty good, no?
This is a critical issue we’ve addressed before in a previous blog post which took a broader-brush approach focused on some common pitfalls companies fall into. This post looks a little more closely at some changes that encourage better alignment.
Having spent half of my career in sales and half in marketing working with sales organizations has given me a unique perspective because I value both sides of this equation. The alignment requires common language, structure, goals and processes that often aren’t there to support the sales and marketing departments working together.
Here are 8 ways to better align these departments and start reaping the rewards:
- Define and agree on your language: What is a lead? What are the right key performance indicators (KPIs) for a sales promotion?
To sales, a lead is sales-qualified (ready to buy). To marketing it might just be someone showing interest. Agree on when a lead gets nurtured and when it becomes sales-qualified and sent to sales for follow up. Define what a qualified lead looks like and agree on KPIs up front.
- Write the ground rules: Who gets credit for the sale?
If sales people are paid on commission, they want credit for anything they touch. This issue needs to be dealt with in advance of any campaign or ongoing nurture campaign so all leads get the attention they deserve. Sales reps will understandably prioritize leads that have potential commissions attached to them over those that don’t.
- Communicate the value of prospecting to the sales team.
The fewer cold calls or networking events or trade shows they have to do, the more time they have to actually sell. The right marketing promotions can get sales reps in front of the right people faster and they’ll be in front of them when they are ready to make a buying decision.
- Define and communicate the characteristics of the sales-qualified lead to the marketing team.
With the help of the sales team, this should be defined up front. Get feedback in terms of the personas, size (and industries) of businesses to target, what content would be of interest, what is the sales process, etc. An educated marketing team is a powerful one.
- Give feedback to the marketing team for marketing refinement.
Communicate back to the marketing department the following information: Opportunities generated, conversions accomplished from Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), and the quality of the lead/sale opportunities. This will help the marketing department refine their tactics to engage more of the right prospect or customer leads. Even if marketing doesn’t get credit for the sale, it’s important that the early steps of the customer journey receive attribution.
- Build it and they will come. The right content attracts the right sales opportunities.
This is where the marketing department excels in producing relevant content, keeping the website up to date and more. Interviewing the sales team can help with understanding the kinds of questions clients and prospects are asking. Marketing can then write content to address those questions – including white papers, guides, typical schedules, FAQ’s, etc. – whatever is important information to the decision-making audience. These days, just like consumers, more and more business buyers are making purchases after online research.
- Share information about the lead activity through common CRM systems for sales and marketing teams.
One of the essential points of alignment between sales and marketing is through sharing systems and information. If a lead has been nurtured and the customer has shared interests and has read information provided by marketing, it’s important that sales knows this so there isn’t a disconnect in the customer experience.
- Understand that organizational change is hard for people.
The key here is to understand both sides of this situation and involve all departments in solving the problem. There has to be buy-in from people at every level or it won’t work as well – or at all. Sales people need to be heard and the marketing team needs to feel sales will take leads seriously when they come in. If changes are made with empathy and understanding, the result is respect and success.
Of course, there are additional ways to promote the success of sales and marketing teams working together. The steps above will start setting the table for success with better internal communications and more effective marketing materials that attract the right customers or prospects looking to buy. Give it a try and let us know how it works.