I was recently asked to contribute to a panel discussion on the topic of aligning sales and marketing teams. I’ve had my fair share of trying to bridge this divide to leverage sales and marketing efforts, but there’s always been one significant factor that sticks out- a severe lack of lead conversion.
According to a HubSpot study, 79% of marketing leads are never converted. Let that sink in… 79%!!! That’s huge!
This really got me thinking and reflecting on my own sales and marketing alignment experiences. When marketing and sales teams unite, they can improve marketing return on investment (ROI), sales productivity, and grow their company’s brand.
I’ll share some of what I’ve learned that can help your team convert more leads and create a more harmonious union.
Tips to achieve an ideal sales and marketing marriage, or Smarketing, as I like to call it:
1. Marketing needs to become an “enabler”
There are two definitions of an enabler. One is a person or thing that makes something possible, the second one is someone who encourages negative or self-destructive behavior in another.
In the Smarketing world, we do not want to be that second definition — ever! Just the opposite.
Marketers want to help make visions become a reality. This tip is the simplest of all because it involves doing “the ask”. By that I mean, simply asking your salespeople what they need in terms of marketing materials and resources. You’d be surprised with the answers you’ll get.
Often, this question leads to uncovering what sales tools are needed for both customer-facing marketing elements, as well as marketing efforts geared towards new business development.
Marketing enablement is the methodology of discovering which marketing-owned activities such as content creation, asset management, sales communications, and content analytics are made more efficient, and thus improving overall Sales and Marketing alignment.
2. Marketing and sales need to define SMART goals…together!
More often than not, Marketing and Sales goals are defined separately. What I’m about to say may seem very controversial, but I’d suggest setting goals together as well individually. Marketing typically sets long term goals regarding the brand’s foundation.
We look towards analytics to help increase brand recognition and promote it’s finest features and benefits strategically. We also look long term at qualifying leads and nurturing them with targeted campaigns. Sales seems to revolve around quotas, pipelines, and activities surrounding clients and prospects.
So as the Beatles say, how do we “come together?” Let’s point some fingers… why do you think that 79% of leads are never converted? That’s Marketing’s fault (mostly).
That’s not a typo! Marketers, you’re job does not stop once a lead has downloaded your latest whitepaper, or filled out a CTA form on your website. Those leads tend to be the ones that need the most nurturing and require more frequent “touches.”
Developing a solid lead nurturing campaign to get those prospects out of the middle of the funnel, and into the bottom of the funnel takes a bit of finesse, and strategy.
By working together with sales to learn a buyer persona’s pain points, will often uncover the best way to reach that untapped 79%. Goal setting is super important and can really help unite teams around dramatically improving marketing return on investment (ROI), sales productivity, and top-line growth.
3. Define and refine sales/marketing processes
I’ve been lucky in my career to have had bosses that were really into process driven results.
One of my first jobs was at a flower shop taking orders for floral arrangements. My boss developed an order taking process that not only captured all the vital information we needed to collect to fulfill the order, but also key points of customer service interaction that made each experience unique.
The order-taking process was well scripted, and you could not deviate from the script, or you’d potentially miss key points from the client. I’ll be honest, at first, I wanted to do my own thing. But after I bought-in to the reasoning and rationale, I was sold, because IT WORKED!
Having well defined and refined processes in an organization is key for a brand. Those flower shop clients knew that when they called, they were going to get a unique and glorious bouquet for their loved ones. You can create the same experience for your clients by creating processes that showcases your brand’s voice through each stage in the buying process.
4. Tap into each other’s knowledge to leverage efforts
In any union, I believe communication to be the key. For Marketing and Sales to move forward in unison, there needs to be some leveraging of knowledge across the table.
I’ve often found Sales meetings fascinating. I’ve learned so much by just listening. I’m not talking about listening to respond, I’m talking about active listening where you’re building trust, establishing rapport, and respect.
Marketers, tap into your sales team! They are a wealth of knowledge about what is going on in the field and have wonderful insight as to buying patterns and behaviors that can help navigate future marketing campaigns.
Both sides bring so much to the table, and if we can move beyond our differences and align to work in tandem, we truly can affect the bottom line positively.
5. Report and meet often to make sure goals are met
It’s great to have meetings and be included, but to what extent? One of my biggest pet peeves is having a meeting that goes NOWHERE! Can someone please memorialize a meeting, and set some post meeting action items?
I’ve established a punch list of sorts for my clients so that after meetings I recap our call and lay the ground work with actionable next steps. I often refer back in subsequent meetings, “we talked about X, where are we on this?”
This benchmark is used to keep us on track and to create forward momentum. Nothing worse than going into a meeting and no one has done anything from prior meetings.
By setting goals, meeting often, and measuring our marketing and sales efforts, we can create a more perfect SMarketing union, and a results driven team.
Brandy Alvarado is the CEO and Owner of BAM! Marketing & PR Agency, an agency dedicated to serving the Pro A/V community with their marketing endeavors. She assists several A/V publications as an editor and writer and has over 7 years of experience in brand management, product marketing, and content creation through various digital marketing channels. She is passionate about helping women succeed in the industry and is the Chair for the AVIXA Women’s Council and is on the Advisory Board for the Women of Digital Signage.