Same building. Worlds apart. I’m talking about the marketing and sales teams in many B2B companies.
The “great divide” is a very common problem. The marketing team blames sales for not following through on hard-earned leads they provide. The sales team blames marketing for not giving them quality leads they can act on. The circle continues on and on, all the while, conversions slow and sales suffer.
Fortunately, there’s a relatively quick and easy solution. Check out these 5 ways to create sales and marketing alignment that enables you to take control of lead generation and increase qualified sales leads.
1. Improve Lead Quality
The marketing team is providing leads, hand over fist. Done deal, right? Not so fast. Unless these leads are converting to customers, they’re bogus. To be most successful, the sales team needs high-quality, end-of-funnel leads.
To start, each lead must be a real a person who has the need, authority and means to purchase your product and/or service. If they don’t meet these criteria, they’re not a qualified lead.
From there, the marketing and sales teams can work together to use lead scoring or an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy to determine which of the leads are most valuable. Establishing these key accounts and leads will strengthen sales and marketing alignment, and enable your entire organization to focus attention of the highest-opportunity leads that will result in the biggest gains.
2. Convert Leads to Prospects
To transition those qualified leads into prospects, you’ll need to invest in lead nurturing to show those leads a little love.
The key here is integrated marketing communications that provide valuable information about how your product and/or service will benefit the lead, and delivering it in the right format and place that will be most effective.
If leads are most responsive to emails about cost-savings benefits and marketing provides the sales team with printed sales materials about manufacturing efficiency … you’ve got a problem.
That’s why sales and marketing alignment is so critical. Only then can you create and deliver the most effective content to nurture leads.
3. Convert Prospects to Customers
So you’ve nurtured a lead and now have a prospect who shows a genuine interest in purchasing your products and services. Great! Now it’s time to close that sale.
The same principles of converting leads to prospects applies to converting those prospects to customers: delivering what information the prospect needs, how and where they want it.
A mistake we see all too often is that once the marketing team passes that prospective lead onto the sales team, they change up the conversation. Using the previous example, if a prospect is responding positively to emails, it’s a mistake to try and contact them via phone.
There needs to be a seamless handoff between marketing and sales in order to convert prospects into customers.
4. Increase Net Promoter Score (NPS) & Post-Close Sales
It’s way easier (and less expensive) to keep customers rather than convert new ones. That’s why marketing and sales teams should work together to improve NPS, which helps gauge overall customer satisfaction and loyalty, and identify opportunities to add on sales after the original conversion.
A great way to get your relationship off on the right foot and identify unmet needs is a strong on-boarding program. How your company treats new customers in the very beginning sets the tone for the rest of the relationship.
Sales and marketing alignment makes it easy to create a program that increases confidence and satisfaction while reducing stress and confusion. Providing new customers with valuable educational materials, tools and resources during on-boarding sets a strong foundation for the marketing and sales teams to build upon.
5. Demonstrate Sales + Marketing Impact
Your sales and marketing teams won’t go from “frenemies” to “besties” overnight. But one important element that helps to quickly close the divide? Results. Prove your integrated sales and marketing plan is working.
Track your plan throughout the entire sales funnel. Most likely, you’ll experience hits and misses. But that’s okay. Drilling down into the data will simplify decision-making and help you adjust your marketing and integrated sales solutions until you see a direct and positive impact on the bottom line.
Show your marketing and sales teams the money, and they’ll show you just how willing they are to work together.
With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing and account services, Kip leads a diverse team built to develop strategies for successful marketing and brand-building for clients.
Kip Botirius, CEO