Our Short Answer: Marketing and Sales can work together by determining how they define qualified leads. Using automation, defining goals, and replacing the sales funnel with a revenue cycle, they can move forward together.
Marketing and sales work towards the same goal of securing and helping a company to grow. However, how they achieve it differs significantly:
Sales works in a more direct way than marketing. A salesperson typically calls someone who was handed to them by the marketing team. The lead is deemed as sales ready by someone else. The salesperson’s job is to build trust and create enough tension to steer the lead into making a purchase.
The marketing team’s job is to define the company’s ideal customer. This is done through collecting online data and information from surveys and interviews. Then they create awareness of a brand or product by using a combination of digital marketing methods, tactics and channels including:
- PPC (Paid Per Click Advertising)
- Content Marketing
- Organic Traffic and Search Engine Optimization
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Influencer Marketing
Regardless of how a marketing team generates leads, sales will try to convert. This is often where the relationship between marketing and sales breaks down. Sales approaches leads that may not be a good fit. Sales puts the blame on marketing, while marketing blames sales for not following up with the leads they have generated from campaigns like paid ads, email marketing, and social media marketing.
Points of friction in the relationship between Marketing and Sales
- Research by Marketo and Research Force shows “that sales ignores up to 80% of marketing leads, focusing half of their time on unproductive prospecting”. If sales believe that marketing leads lack quality - aren’t sales ready - they’ll spend their time on recycling older leads.
- Research cited by Review 42 shows that just 61% of marketers hand over leads to their sales colleagues. “Still, only 27% of those leads are qualified”.
- In Kapost’s “The 2018 B2B Marketing & Sales Alignment Benchmark” report they found that 55% of marketers don’t know which assets (things like blog posts, brochures, data sheets) their sales team uses; 44% of sales reps don’t even know which assets are used by their sales colleagues.
The above statistics show the complexities of the marketing and sales relationship, but there are other factors below that contribute.
Typical obstacles faced in the Marketing and Sales Relationship:
- Only 1 in 2 companies say they have a formal definition of a qualified lead.
- 43% of marketers and sales teams say that communication is a problem.
- 25% of marketing and sales teams report that there’s a lack of accountability on both sides.
- 41% marketing and sales teams admit to using different metrics.
- 21% of marketing and sales teams admit to reporting challenges.
Sales And Marketing: Working As One Unit
When marketing and sales teams work together communication and information flows effortlessly between departments. Your sales team informs marketing what campaigns and strategies are working, and which need tweaking.
In fact, recent research by LinkedIn shows that, "87% of sales and marketing leaders say that marketing and sales collaboration enables critical business growth". As Japanese writer, Ryunosuke Sataro said, "Individually we are one drop. Together we an ocean".
Software like HubSpot’s CRM, facilitates a solid lead scoring method. This allows both to spend more energy and waste less time on generated better qualified leads. The more they communicate, the more they’ll develop trust. The fruits are more effective campaigns and more conversions leading to more revenue and growth.
Ways To Get Marketing And Sales To Work Together
Up until now, if your marketing and sales teams seem like dance partners tripping over each others feet; here are some solutions:
- Organize your sales based on your buyer personas
Buyer personas are invaluable to marketing. They help salespeople know who they are selling to and be able to help them more effectively.
- Appoint a team member or small team to receive and assign leads:
One common avenue where sales and marketing often meet is through lead sharing. As your marketing team generates leads through campaigns and email or paid ad campaigns, they hand them over to sales to qualify, nurture and convert.
Do you have a person on your sales team who accepts sales qualified leads? If not, you need to appoint one of your team members or even a small team to receive and assign these leads. This is one of the most important places where sales and marketing should align.
- Manage training between sales and marketing
What challenges do you, your sales team, have in selling a specific product that perhaps marketing can help with? Get both teams to swap notes, this will be beneficial in getting them to work together.
Strategies Of Aligning Marketing And Sales
Marketing goals are long term. Marketing projects establish a strong basis for qualified leads and brand awareness. Marketer’s are valuable for their skills in analyzing metrics, leads and lead nurturing over the long haul.
Salespeople goals include meeting quotas. Even without the quota, they often work on commission. Being able to “help prospects or be the personal touch that someone is looking for” as soon and as often as possible. Sales are looking for immediate solutions from marketing teams so they can meet their goals.
Both sales and marketing view their roles differently in the lead generation process. Sales’ focus is meeting goals every quarter. Marketers assume that they are the only ones that think strategically. Sales tend to wonder why they have to generate their own leads; marketing wonders why sales never follows up on their leads.
If marketing and sales teams can come up with common understanding and expectations of each other’s roles, this is a good start to getting them to work together.
Automation enables personal one-to-one conversations with prospects, rather than one talking to many. For the best results,” marketing needs to ensure the methodology, process, and terminology used to support these efforts is in alignment and collaboration with sales”.
5 Steps To Sales And Marketing Alignment
- Establish common definitions
for things like what a qualified lead looks like. Research shows that only 44% of sales and marketing teams share common ground in defining what are qualified leads.
- Outline goals and strategies for the teams to work together: to do that you need to have agreed understanding of lead scoring, lead generation and Service Level Agreements:
- Lead Scoring: this refers to defining your leads sales readiness. This is based on their position in the buyers cycle, their fit, engagement with your business, and fit.
- Lead Generation Metrics: an MQL is a person that shows an interest for your services by downloading a content offer but may not be ready to buy yet. An SQL is a prospect that is determined to be ready for an offer. When sales and marketing come to an agreement on how each of these are defined, this will lead to alignment.
- Service Level Agreements (SLAs) Service level agreements need to be determined for each phase of the revenue cycle. As these systems become more automated, both sales and marketing performance improve. Establishing these systems also makes sure everything is documented, so marketing can show how a prospect became a MQL, and sales has a record of their contact with that person.
- Replace your old sales funnel with a revenue cycle model:
replace your sales funnel with a revenue cycle model. This is from your first interaction with a prospect until they become a lead, then into a customer. A revenue cycle gives you a better idea of your prospects progress “from first touch” until a buying decision is made - which leads to new revenue.
The sales funnel is outdated because it focuses on pushing your prospects through narrower and narrower stages, “ignoring their freedom of choice and personal whims”; influenced by the content they read, social media, and third party reviews.
- Define your marketers roles into content marketers, product marketers, and demand generation lead.
“Account executives and sales development representatives (SDRs) are on a third team, separate from marketing and sales, and they have one exclusive focus: to review, contact, and qualify marketing-generated leads and deliver them to sales account execs” (https://www.marketo.com/marketing-and-sales-alignment/)
- Move forward together: when marketing and sales can see beyond what differentiates them, and work together, they have the ability to increase revenue and cut costs.
Marketing identifies people with problems who will happily pay a company to solve. The job of sales is to connect with the people that marketing identifies and build enough trust and tension so that the lead becomes a customer. If they don’t manage to close a sale, the sales team should collect meaningful data that helps to inform marketing lead generation strategies.
Both sales and marketing have certain accountabilities: Marketing identifies people with problems they’ll happily pay a company to solve.The job of sales is to connect with those people that marketing identifies and build trust and tension. So that the leads that have been identified and brought in will be closed and become paying clients.
For each lead that marketing finds, sales can be responsible for one of two things: traceable data or a closed deal.
Traceable Data and/or Closing The Deal
- Traceable data from interaction with lead: come up with usable data for the marketing team to base their decisions on. The data should inform the marketing team if “this avenue of lead generation is good, but could do with tweaking”, or “this lead avenue is not producing any results, we need to scrap it”. In short, something that’s informative for the marketing team.
- The second thing that sales should do is close the leads identified by the marketing team.
Our Bottom-line: marketing and sales teams can work together by determining a common definition for qualified leads, using personas, defining goals, and aligning roles. Replacing the sales funnel with a revenue cycle model, they’ll increase profit and growth for their company.
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Jonathan Gordon is the chief writer and PR liaison for an HR firm. His passions are creating inspiring and engaging content. Jonathan has a love for learning about new industries and acquiring new skills. Jonathan is also a trained classical and jazz pianist and loves meeting new people and is open to new experiences.