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Marketers From Mars And Salespeople From Venus: 5 Ways To Harmonise Them

Posted by Steev Glover - May 12, 2015

Marketers have been battling to link their creative endeavours with the honest graft of sales for decades. They have largely failed. The consequence being misaligned effort from both sides that fuels the fire of mistrust in one department for the other.

This disconnect between marketing and sales can largely be attributed to a failure to understand the difference between MQLs (marketing qualified leads) and SQLs (sales qualified leads).

Marketing can never and should never promise sales conversions from its activities. Sales people sell. It’s their job to take a lead – a defined MQL – and convert it into cold, hard cash. And marketing? Well, its job is to provide more MQLs, better quality MQLs – MQLs that are more likely to convert, and thus, less likely to waste the sales team’s time.

The deployment of an automated marketing platform (such as Hubspot, Marketo or Pardot) and the effective use of a lead-scoring system will help provide sales people with better qualified leads. If you don’t have automated marketing, you need to ensure every website form submission and phone call received DOESN’T make its way to sales without a qualification process in place.

So here are five ways to better align your sales and marketing departments, maximise the leads you generate, and shorten the sales conversion process:

1) Marketers – understand the sales process

Marketers can’t help sales and the sales team if they if they don’t understand how leads are developed and defined within the business. Discover where the marketing messaging and sales patter overlap, then ensure marketing has developed tools and guides to maximise these engagements. First-hand experience is essential in building awareness of the difficulties sales face. 

How does the sales team use their CRM platform? What can marketing do to ensure they add value and don’t complicate this process – CRM systems can cause a turgid experience at times! Sales enablement tools should be developed in a way that encourages all sales folk, of any digital competence, to take MQL information and convert it to a sale.

2) Define Marketing Qualified Leads for your business

Each company defines a lead differently and with varying success and, at the risk of generalising, you can guarantee that the sales team will have questioned the validity and quality of what marketing has provided at some point too.

For some teams, the moaning is more habitual than for others. But it’s crucial both sides agree on the definition of a Marketing Qualified Lead. Some may qualify a lead based on content consumption and general website interaction, while others have such an exaggerated site visit ratio that they need to go through a more linear understanding of which pieces of content were consumed in what order, and over what time period, before a value can be attributed.

No matter which bracket your company falls into, you need to use statistics to determine which leads have the highest interaction rate, and therefore higher likely close percentage, BEFORE you hand them over to sales.

When the sales team gets a lead, it should be in the form of a detailed file (CRM compatible) that outlines which contact form, demo request or content download they completed and what their lead score is.

Only those with a score that both sales and marketing have agreed is worthy of SQL status should be handled by the sales team. All others must remain MQLs and be retained by marketing for ongoing nurturing. If you do this, then both sales and marketing are held accountable for what happens to the MQLs developed.

3) Keep learning, keep tweaking

If you have historical lead creation and conversion data then you can of course immediately set parameters and measures based on that data. If you haven’t, then you need to collate as much statistical information as you can from your current and new campaigns. Analyse:

  • Which content creates the most interest (click-throughs, views and downloads)
  • Which combination of content has the most MQLs and SQLs
  • Which SQLs convert to sales the quickest
  • Which SQLS fail to convert – is there a pattern to the content or persona?

All of the above (and more) will define the marketing you do next in terms of targeted campaigns and new content creation. It will also help define the content and conversion journeys of specific personas, as well as helping you tweak your lead scoring across your audiences.

4) Do some training . . . together

Marketers need to stay ahead of the game. They need to be reading, digesting and facilitating tech and theory changes with each new go-to-market channel. Sales people that can sell will always be able to sell – it’s a natural state. The key is that sales teams are given the opportunity to learn and understand new processes.

These processes must be presented as simpler and more efficient. You need to invest in joint training on how to use the automated marketing system and its benefits to sales. Above all else you must not add complexity or time-heavy process, otherwise sales will disengage very rapidly.

Ideally, you’ll create joint learning and practical sessions that assist sales in delivering value proposition messaging to the right persona, in the right vertical, at the right stage of the buying journey. You’ll also have mobile-friendly assets that help.

5) And one more thing . . . measurement and ROI

Establish measures that ensure both sides – marketing and sales – are accountable. When marketing in this way, it will produce more leads, and, if the process is right, they should be easier to convert for sales. The essential elements you should be tracking are:

  • Volume site/content engagement (leads) vs MQL defined
  • Volume of MQLs vs Sales converted
  • Time taken from Lead to MQL and from MQL to Sales conversion

So if the conversion rates don’t change, you may discover more about your sales process than you were prepared for, but at least you’ll be armed with data to make informed changes.

Remember it’s a fast changing business world with continual innovation and development of tools and services to assist in the sales process.

Some have merit and value, some don’t and will be a distraction. Stick to the marketing basics and adhere to a process that matches your business culture and, when combined with open departmental dialogue and accountability, the business will find sales and marketing have more in common than they realise.

Download our Strategic Customer Acquisition guide for more insight into streamlining your sales and marketing processes

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