5 Ways To Get More Sales Out Of Marketing
Sales and marketing. They’re lumped together so much in conversation, you’d think they’re a perfect combination — like peanut butter and jelly. But the relationship is more often like oil and water.
There are many reasons why sales and marketing teams become misaligned. However, by eliminating the roots of these issues, leveraging shared definitions, and understanding sales and marketing’s role in the bigger picture of the customer journey – sales and marketing can live in harmony while driving enhanced lead-to-revenue performance.
The following are five suggestions any organization can follow to better align their sales and marketing operations. These include a mix of both technical and philosophical strategies that can lead to a better understanding of the lead-to-close process, increase sales close rates, and subsequently drive stronger revenue and profits.
Tip 1: Agree on Definitions
One of the biggest disconnects between sales and marketing departments is caused by differing definitions of what is, and what is not, a qualified lead. Often, marketing departments focus on volume of leads, rather than quality, as marketers are often pressured by sales leadership to provide lots of leads. But the consequence is usually felt: sales teams complain that their leads are of poor quality – and sales close rates suffer. However, if marketing and sales work together to clearly define what is a “sales ready” lead – many of these issues can be addressed. One method that has proven successful is to hold a sales and marketing “summit” to co-define terms like “lead,” “qualified lead” and “highly qualified lead.” A good way to generate these definitions is by talking about the common attributes or behaviors of leads that converted. While generating agreed upon definitions, try also to build “checklists” that can be tracked in a marketing or CRM system. Rather than generic “scoring,” each lead should meet a minimum number of qualification items to move to the next phase of the lead-to-sales cycle.
Tip 2: Use Data from Sales (and beyond) to Improve Lead Quality
Agreeing on the definition of a qualified lead is one thing. It is another effort altogether to improve lead quality and maximize the potential of leads to close. After all, according to a recent B2B Technology Marketing Community survey, 61% of marketing executives stated that lead quality was their number one barrier to success. It is an understandable obstacle. After all, buyers today have greater choice, and access to more information than ever before. But marketing and sales teams can use information to their advantage too. Start by establishing a clearly defined mix of demographic data (which types of job titles typically buy, for example) and behavioral data (which collateral or campaign is more effective in conversions) in the lead scoring process. And, by associating closed deals in a sales automation system with the lead source campaign, sales reports can reveal which targeting approaches and marketing messages are delivering the best quality leads. Finally, by attaching social media and other data sources to lead records, a robust lead qualification scoring mechanism can be attained. It’s important for both sales and marketing teams to remember that quality can come at a price – fewer overall leads. It takes some courage to deliver fewer, higher quality leads, but with good lead targeting, sales goals can be met more efficiently. Everybody wins when pipeline waste is reduced and reps go after only truly qualified leads.
Tip 3: Tightly Integrate Your Marketing and Sales Tools
This seems like a no-brainer, but many organizations still take a siloed approach to deploying and managing the technology that supports marketing and sales efforts. For example, many marketing organizations simply buy lists and blast them with email messages. Then, any response is quickly passed to sales. This basic approach can lead to some sales, but there is a better way. With an integrated sales and marketing system (which can, in fact include more than one piece of software) – the lead development process can be far more sophisticated. By utilizing the scoring and nurture mechanisms inside marketing automation tools, organizations can automate the process of passing more qualified leads to sales. This way, sales reps focus on the leads most likely to complete a purchase and spend less time chasing down poor quality leads.
Tip 4: Enforce Best Practices with Intelligent Workflow
Even with an integrated marketing and sales automation system, leads can fall through the cracks. A scoring mechanism may automate the handoff of leads to sales, but the sales tools may not properly measure and manage the treatment of those leads by sales reps. If the lead status is not tracked, and controls are not put in place to insure timely follow up by sales – “hot” leads can cool quickly or the competition may get to them first. By injecting advanced workflow into the lead routing and management process inside the CRM system, missed opportunities can be avoided. For example, once a lead is routed to a sales rep, workflow can track the action – or inaction – around that lead, and re-assign the lead to a less busy rep if the rep does not reach out after a set period. This increases the potential to convert leads, and provides a positive and seamless buying experience for the customer.
Tip 5: Create a Total Customer View
Not all customer behavior happens where it’s naturally tracked by CRM and marketing tools. There is a wealth of customer data in other internal and external systems that can be tapped to improve business performance. ERP and accounting systems contain transactional information that can be analyzed and integrated with sales and marketing information to better target high value customers. Data from social media can be used to give a fuller picture of individuals’ behaviors and preferences, and information from providers like Dun & Bradstreet can help fill in gaps in organizational knowledge. What’s more, frequently tapping data from these external systems can improve overall data quality. Checking multiple sources can help insure that lead and contact data is correct, further improving the efficiency and effectiveness of campaigns.