The Great Sales and Marketing Divide… And How to Solve It (January 2017 – Q1 Series: Quick Start Guide to a Successful Marketing Plan in 2017)

If you’re in Sales or Marketing, chances are you’ve experienced the love-hate relationship, the sibling rivalry that plagues most Sales and Marketing teams within an organization. Despite both departments having the same end goal of driving revenue and contributing to the overall success of the organization, they just can’t seem to do it together. It’s as though there’s a 50-foot wall dividing their similar efforts… And from organization to organization, the reasons for this strained relationship seem to generally be the same:

Sales Rep:Marketers just don’t understand what we consider a lead—we’re passed ‘leads’ that are of low caliber and aren’t even qualified. And sometimes, we don’t get leads at all. They just aren’t marketing to the right people.

Marketer: Our Sales team doesn’t know how to follow up. They complain when they don’t receive leads and when they do, the leads aren’t good enough. How would they know when they wait too long to reach out or are too pushy when they do follow up?

Sound familiar? For most, this is the vicious cycle that continues to compound year after year. Then, before you know it, the two departments rarely talk or work together, and end up chasing leads in their own way.

While it’s true that sometimes it’s much easier to work independently than it is to collaborate with others, imagine the success your two departments could have if they were aligned, focused on common goals and improving revenue together. This joint Sales and Marketing effort is known as “Smarketing.” Wheelhouse Research states that aligned Sales and Marketing teams see 27% faster profit growth and win 38% more deals.

Still not convinced? Here are some things to keep in mind as you think about improving the relationship between Sales and Marketing:

  • On average, marketing-sourced leads cost 61% less than outbound efforts. Think about the amount of time and effort saved for a Sales department if they put a little more faith in marketing efforts. (Hubspot State of InBound 2012)
  • Alignment will drive revenue. By aligning your teams, your company could generate 208% more marketing revenue for the organization. (Wheelhouse 2016)

Ready to get started? Here are a few steps for aligning your two teams so you can take the marketplace by storm:

 

Define WHOM you are selling and marketing to—TOGETHER

Most organizations fail to align Sales and Marketing because the two departments lack a common understanding of who they are selling and marketing to. The best way to solve this problem is for Sales and Marketing to work together to define the company’s ideal prospect(s) through firmographic and demographic traits. Get your teams together in one room for this exercise and start the conversation. The end goal being that both teams walk away with a clear, documented understanding of whom they are going after, and what personas they should be marketing/selling to.

To learn more about defining your company’s ideal buyer persona, download the persona discovery worksheet you can use for this exercise.

Define lead stages and processes for handling leads

It’s vital to the success of an aligned Sales and Marketing department to understand each stage of the buyer’s journey and how leads should be nurtured or treated based on their stage. According to HubSpot, 99% of first-time visitors are not yet ready to buy, so a process for nurturing them is needed. Developing content for each stage of the buying cycle will nurture leads through the sales funnel faster and prepare them for a conversation with Sales. So when is the lead ready to be handed off? Sales and Marketing should decide that together as well. Identify which actions indicate a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and create a process for passing the leads to Sales. Consider setting up automated notifications for Sales to let them know that a prospect in the system is ready for a call.

 

Develop content worth reading

When you think about content creation, which department would you say typically handles this task? Most would say Marketing, but in reality, it’s spread much more evenly across an organization. The content generated from the Sales department is powerful–in fact, content created by sales reps was used in 61% of the closed-won deals analyzed by Docurated. How can this be? Because your Sales team has the inside scoop. They are exposed to the pains and challenges prospects and customers face every day—and what will likely sell them on your company’s product or solution. So instead of creating your content in a silo, team up with your Sales department and pick their brains on what’s currently “top of mind” for their prospects or clients. By leveraging this information, your content can be much more impactful and successful—making your job and your Sales team’s jobs easier. Remember, the more nurtured the prospect is, the easier they will be to sell to. A DemandGen Report states that nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads.

 

Set marketing goals based on sales targets

A truly aligned Sales and Marketing machine will only occur if both departments map their goals to the same metrics and numbers. The good news is that it’s relatively simple to align your marketing goals with Sales’. To do so, first identify how your organization measures sales goals (monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc.) and then back your marketing goals into this number. Define the percentage or total revenue your Marketing department is aiming to contribute through lead generation efforts, then determine how many closed deals you need in order to hit this number. Once you have that, calculate how many qualified prospects you need to achieve that many new clients. Finally, calculate the amount of traffic needed to generate the necessary number of qualified leads. Once you determine these values you can more effectively outline your marketing strategy and pivot quickly to better control the lead flow through your sales funnel. When both teams are aligned to the same goals, each side will be more committed to working together, particularly if they know they will need to rely on each other in order to achieve success.

 

Create an SLA (service level agreement) between Sales and Marketing

Companies with an active SLA are 34% more likely to experience greater year-over-year ROI than those companies that don’t (Hubspot State of Inbound 2016). This document should not be used for one department to set “expectations” for the other. Instead, it should be a document that is created to define how the two departments will work together to better achieve success and reach their shared revenue goals. Your SLA should be based on all of the previous steps we’ve discussed—a guide that can be referenced by either team so everyone stays on the same page. Here are some questions you might want to answer in your SLA:

  • What is each team responsible for separately?
  • What tasks do the two teams need to work on together in order to achieve success?
  • How will Sales and Marketing communicate with each other?
  • When will leads be passed to Sales?
  • What is the process for those who aren’t yet ready to commit to purchase?
  • How many qualified leads does the Sales team need to make quota?
  • What is each team responsible for separately?
  • How many calls/emails should Sales make in an attempt to engage with each marketing lead?
  • How often will Sales and Marketing meet to review what’s working, what’s not, etc.?

Aligning your Sales and Marketing teams may come with a few growing pains, but the ROI from this effort will be more than measurable. By working together to define your ideal buyer persona(s) you will be able to target your prospects more effectively. Through impactful content inspired by your Sales teams, defining agreed upon lead stages and a process for handling prospects, Sales will have more qualified leads to work and a healthy sales funnel to pull from. And finally, by setting your marketing goals based on your sales targets and creating an SLA that both teams can stand behind, you will establish a foundation that allows both teams to succeed—together.

Welcome to Smarketing.

 

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