“Man, these leads stink, none of them close,” says the salesperson.
“Sales keeps dropping the ball on all our leads––it’s all credit and no blame with them,” says the marketer.
You’ve seen it before––the age-old divide between the sales and marketing. It’s a feud that can grind your company’s growth to a halt if both teams can’t get on the same page and work in harmony.
A recent sales and marketing alignment study from Marketo shows that when the two teams play well together, companies become 67% better at closing deals and end up generating 208% more revenue from their marketing efforts.
With the task of driving new business clearly resting on the shoulders of both teams, the question then becomes:
How do you bridge the gap and bring these two sides together for long-term alignment that has a measurable impact on your bottom line?
For many companies, it starts with communication.
1. Set common terms and definitions
You can’t expect to get both sides working cooperatively if they disagree on basic terms and concepts.
If you ask a marketer and salesperson to define a sales-ready lead and get two different answers, it’s time to nail down a company-wide set of definitions everyone can use to get on the same page and seal the language gap for good.
Skipping this step can undermine the entire alignment effort when marketers focus on delivering one kind of lead when salespeople actually want something different.
Get both teams active in the discussion to establish a standard set of definitions for tracking your sales and marketing pipelines. These meetings can shed light on important details about your sales process which one team may still be in the dark about.
If, for instance, salespeople find a particular action to be an indicator of sales-readiness, your marketing team can re-focus their lead nurturing efforts to give more leads the content that pushes them to the next step of the sales process.
Making sure those details are communicated can be all it takes to getting both teams working cooperatively toward a common goal.
2. Create a practical Service-Level Agreement (SLA)
With both teams on the same page, it’s time to use that new language to come up with an agreement that makes goals clear for both teams.
Think of this like a contract that lays out how many leads marketing needs to provide sales and what sales needs to do to make sure those leads are given every opportunity to become customers.
If your marketing team isn’t clear on what it actually takes to close a deal, these discussions are an opportunity to get everyone familiar with the process from start to finish.
Establish a solid set of expectations for your marketing team by asking questions like:
- How many leads do we need to give sales to ensure each rep is efficient at all times?
- How many SQLs does every rep typically need to meet their target?
- What content pieces are driving leads further down the funnel than others? What’s having the biggest effect on our leads?
With solid answers in numbers, you’re able to create measurable marketing goals that define your SLA.
When both teams are ready to shake hands, make sure you’ve got the following tasks crossed off your meeting agenda:
- Define the number of sale sales-ready leads marketing will hand off to sales.
- Establish the number of contacts sales will reach out to each month.
- Define a list of information marketing will include with sales-ready leads to ensure salespeople have everything they need to engage them effectively.
- Establish what kinds of data sales will record into their CRM after engaging with leads to let marketing know what’s working and what isn’t.
3. Utilize your CRM to help empower sales and marketing
CRM platforms are almost always treated exclusively as sales tools. But when alignment is the goal, keeping data exclusive to one team only widens the gap you’re trying to bridge.
Companies are now realizing CRMs are much more than “sales only” tools.
Through integration with your marketing software, they can play an important role in enabling marketers to help move “lukewarm” leads further down the pipeline when more lead nurturing is needed to keep them from falling off completely.
Integrated CRMs also allow for closed-loop reporting, an environment where marketing and sales both have a full view of each customer interaction to determine not only which campaigns are most effective, but which parts of those campaigns are having the most impact.
The push to make CRMs a truly integrated platform is probably best exemplified by HubSpot’s recent foray into the sales side of things with their own CRM software. For companies and agencies already using HubSpot’s marketing tools, think of the CRM as the marketing platform’s Siamese twin. Seamless data integration across the board to bridge the gap once and for all.
To learn all the ways the new CRM brings marketing and sales in sync with one another, check out Mike Lemire’s HubSpot Academy post right here.
If you want to learn more ways to close the loop with your inbound marketing strategy, check out our eBook: Creating Content that Converts