5 Basics That Are Left Out of Most Marketing and Sales Strategies Today
On paper, it makes perfect sense for sales and marketing to work closely together as they aim to reach your company’s objectives. Of course, it never quite works out this way. According to a recent survey by InsideView and Demand Gen Report, nearly half of all sales and marketers believe communication is a serious problem between their teams. While this statistic is troubling, it doesn’t mean that harmony between sales and marketing is impossible. However, it does mean that you’re going to have to work at it.
Creating a cohesive marketing and sales strategy doesn’t happen overnight. It takes consistent effort, and it takes the implementation of some important tools along the way. Here are some tricks you can use to maximize the partnership between your sales and marketing teams.
1. Service Level Agreement
The first — and perhaps most important — tool in your arsenal is a service level agreement (SLA). The service level agreement spells out exactly what both sales and marketing bring to the table. It explains what each side does, what metrics each party is expected to live up to, and how sales and marketing will help each other. The SLA also lists the qualifications for marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads, explaining how the two types of leads are different.
Even more important than the document itself is the process that leads up to the creation of the SLA. This is not an agreement to be handed down from above. Instead, both sales and marketing will have to sit down together to hammer out the terms of their working relationship. This allows for a significant breaking of the ice, which will most likely include an airing of grievances that exist between marketing and sales. Out of this discussion will arise a new partnership between these two sides — one that allows for understanding and teamwork in the name of lead conversion and increased revenues.
2. Lead Scoring
Although your service level agreement will state what constitutes a marketing qualified lead and a sales qualified lead, you’ll still need some help determining exactly what those parameters should be. That’s where lead scoring comes in. Your CRM software can help you analyze the leads in your system, prioritizing those leads that are most likely to make purchases in the near future.
Lead scoring accomplishes two major goals for your company. First, it provides a numerical expression of where a given lead is in the buyer’s journey. No longer will you have to merely assume that your lead is ready for a sales pitch. Instead, you’ll have concrete figures to guide you, making your approach much friendlier and more engaging for potential customers. Second, lead scoring clearly shows whether a lead belongs with the sales team or the marketing team. This eliminates a large portion of the disconnect that occurs between the two sides. Where the sales team used to gripe about leads that weren’t ready for the sales process, they can now understand exactly how each lead got to the point that it’s considered to be sales-ready. Furthermore, sales will be able to see what actions the marketing team took to nurture that lead, eliminating the possibility of redundant approaches.
3. Lead Nurturing
An essential part of any marketing and sales strategy is knowing how to handle the leads that come your way. While there’s no exact formula that turns a lead into a long-term paying customer, every company should have go-to strategies that resonate with their prospects. This process of lead nurturing — and the response by your leads to those tactics — will heavily factor into your lead scoring. That’s why it’s so important to continually refine your lead nurturing techniques.
Just as the lead qualification parameters differ between sales and marketing, the lead nurturing tactics used by each group are different. Marketing is charged with identifying potential leads through social media and conventional advertising, then enticing those leads to provide their contact information. From there, marketing sends out periodic emails and other pieces of content, educating the lead and hinting at the ways in which their solution can help the lead. The marketing team then tracks the responses given by leads to these methods, particularly through their website activity.
Once the lead has made it abundantly clear that they’re interested in moving forward, it’s up to the sales team to close the deal. But they don’t begin with a full-court press. Instead, they start out with a personalized email and an initial phone conversation that revolves around that customer’s pain points and how the company’s product can resolve those issues. Since the pain points have been clearly defined and highlighted by the marketing team in their updates to a lead’s CRM entry, these points shouldn’t come as a surprise to the sales team. After it’s obvious that the lead is a good fit for the company and vice versa, it’s time for the company’s established process to take over.
4. Customer-Focused Strategy
The underlying purpose of aligning your sales and marketing teams is quite simple: The more smoothly your internal operations run, the more your teams will be able to focus on the customer. And the more you can truly understand the needs of your leads, the better you’ll be able to nurture and close those leads.
One of the most critical components of a modern marketing and sales strategy is a well-crafted buyer persona. Knowing your ideal customer will help you to target and attract that customer to your business. What’s more, working with those customers will help you to further refine your personas, giving you deeper insight into your target audience.
Although more and more companies are embracing the concept of buyer personas, it’s important for those companies to realize that their customers will change over time, and buyer personas must be continually updated to accurately reflect your ideal customers. That’s where your sales and marketing teams can be very beneficial. Marketing has tremendous insights into the changing habits of consumers, particularly as it relates to your advertising and content. Your sales reps talk to actual leads and customers each day and truly understand what makes people buy or not buy. Using this hands-on knowledge will help to keep your personas up to date — and help build trust between the sales and marketing teams.
5. Teams with Skills that Count
You can have all of the cutting-edge infrastructure you want, but all of your technology and innovation will be useless without the right people to carry out your company’s vision. Success in sales and marketing goes way beyond a college diploma and impressive resume. It’s the skills that are a little less obvious that truly determine the success of your company.
Above all else, your sales and marketing teams should be built around teamwork and communication. Your staff should be well-organized and comfortable within the framework of a given team. Additionally, the ability to listen — to your customers and to each other — is a must. Solid listening skills will help your employees to understand what people are really saying when they speak, even if their needs aren’t explicitly stated.
You’ll also want to make sure your staff members are the correct fit for their respective departments. For instance, marketing should be comprised of people who are well-versed in skills like data analysis, blog writing and video production. On the other hand, your sales staff should have advanced problem solving abilities, leadership skills and empathy.
This isn’t to say that you need to overhaul your entire staff and replace them with people that exactly fit these mold, but you may find that the roles of your employees don’t necessarily match their skills. For example, storytelling is a trait that all marketers share. If you have a great storyteller on your sales team, maybe he or she would be a better fit in marketing. Just as you have to align your sales and marketing teams in a mutually productive way, you also have to position your employees to maximize their contributions to the company.
Help Marketing and Sales Thrive Together
Given the traditionally fraught relationship between sales and marketing, it can’t simply be assumed that the two sides will automatically get along in your company. It’s your job as CMO to create an environment in which sales and marketing thrive alongside each other, working together to achieve your company’s objectives. Defining your marketing and sales strategy with a service level agreement is the first step, and utilizing your lead scoring and lead nurturing techniques will help sales and marketing to work well with each other. This increased synergy will help both sides to focus more on the customer’s needs, building a company that prioritizes revenue and customer satisfaction.