8 Questions Every Modern Marketing and Sales Leader Must Be Able to Answer
Although sales and marketing departments have a famously acrimonious relationship with each other, the truth is that they have plenty of incentive to work together. A harmonious partnership between marketing and sales means clear communication, accountability and an organized workflow. These are elements that make the jobs of both teams easier.
Alas, not only do most companies not have this symbiotic relationship between sales and marketing, but the two sides often can’t even articulate what the other side does. At minimum, there are some basic understandings that must exist between sales and marketing in order for the partnership to be successful.
If your sales and marketing leadership personnel can’t answer the following questions about your company’s operations, it’s time to put in some work to get them on the same page.
1) What actions make a lead marketing qualified?
All leads start somewhere, but it’s not always obvious when those leads should capture the attention of the marketing team. You should have a defined set of criteria that triggers an organized effort from marketing to convert prospects. For example, signing up for your email list or following your social media accounts is a good sign that a particular lead is interested in learning more. But is that enough for your marketing team to start making contact? Developing a clear set of parameters for your company will help you to create a defined approach that you can use for the majority of your leads.
2) What lead nurturing follow-up tasks are your marketers responsible for?
A major reason why it’s important to understand the qualifications for a marketing qualified lead is that it sets the table for your marketing team to take action. Having the same starting point for every lead helps them to take action in a measured and organized manner. And while it’s true that every lead is different and some leads might require a varied approach, you should have a basic template for your lead nurturing techniques. And, those tactics should be clearly communicated to your marketing staff. This lets your employees know exactly what they should — and should not — be doing when they engage in follow-up communications.
3) What actions make a lead sales qualified?
According to Hubspot, 95 percent of marketers believe that the quality of the leads they give to sales is important. However, just 5 percent of those marketers think they give the sales team leads that are definitely ready to buy. This disconnect shows the importance of having clear criteria for a lead that’s sales-ready. Some definite signs might include the lead asking about pricing or downloading a free trial. As is the case with marketing qualified leads, the criteria will vary from company to company. What’s most important is that you develop these parameters based on feedback from the sales team, who has the most insight as to what makes a lead ready for the sales process.
4) How are leads handed off from marketing to sales?
It’s not enough to simply know when a lead is ready to be transferred from the marketing team to the sales staff. You must also have a process for actually handing off the leads. How is this done? How soon does the sales team have to make its first contact? A customer relationship management software program with lead scoring capabilities can solve a lot of your headaches in this area. But if sales doesn’t utilize the CRM, handing off this way is useless. It’s up to you to make these transitions as smooth and as painless as possible.
5) What lead nurturing follow-up tasks are your sales representatives responsible for?
Just because a lead was given to the sales team doesn’t necessarily mean that lead is ready to buy right this second. Some further nurturing may be required in order to get the sale. This is a case of managing the expectations of your sales staff, and it’s also a case of making sure your sales staff understands what’s expected of them. It’s also worth noting that if a lead isn’t nurtured properly after it’s handed off from the marketing team, it will ultimately be considered the failure of the sales team if that lead doesn’t make a purchase.
6) How do you track both marketing and sales communications with leads?
The complaint about marketing most cited by sales reps is that the sales team has tremendous difficulty locating the marketing materials used to nurture leads. How can a salesperson know what to do next with a lead when he or she doesn’t know what actions have already been taken? It’s important to have a system for tracking the activity of both sales and marketing as they nurture their leads. Why? It’s vital to your internal workflow, and it also shows your leads that you’re organized. Simply setting up a CRM program isn’t sufficient — there has to be an actual process for tracking and accessing these communications that both sales and marketing have bought into. And needless to say, your employees must understand exactly how to identify these contact points, as well as how this information can be responsibly used in lead nurturing.
7) How do you measure the success of your marketing and sales teams?
It’s traditionally been difficult to separate the performance of the marketing staff from the effectiveness of the sales team. When lead conversion is your only metric, you’re not getting the full picture. Developing ways to assess sales and marketing independent of each other is the only true way to see how your teams are performing. What’s even more essential is that both sales and marketing be fully aware of how they’re being judged. Clearly laying out the criteria will help both sales and marketing understand their responsibilities; it’ll also encourage them to play along with the idea of aligning your company’s sales and marketing teams.
8) Do your marketing and sales teams work together to practice closed-loop reporting?
Closed-loop reporting is a fancy way of saying that the relationship between sales and marketing is a never-ending cycle. In other words, the job doesn’t end after a sale is made. Sales informs marketing on how sales-ready their leads were, allowing the marketing team to evaluate its own performance. This helps marketing to hone its strategies, which will ultimately help sales, who will then have better feedback to give to marketing the next time around. Closing this communication loop is essential for building a working relationship between sales and marketing. If this isn’t happening in your company, it may be a big reason why your sales and marketing teams aren’t performing the way they should.
Where are you falling short?
It takes time to build the perfect relationship between marketing and sales. These questions can help you to see where your company is falling short. Once you know how both sales and marketing qualify their leads and approach lead nurturing, you’ll have a better idea of who’s pulling their weight and who isn’t. From there, you can incorporate closed-loop reporting and build the accountable and effective sales and marketing teams you’ve alway wanted.