Seven Tips to Get Sales and Marketing Working Together

While there will probably always be some good-natured joking about whether the marketing division or the sales team is more important, ultimately both have to be in synch. After all, all teams within the same company are on the same side. Facilitating an effective marketing and sales alignment can be one of the greatest communication difficulties managers and team leaders are likely to face. These tips will help keep everyone working together and focused on sales enablement.

  1. Funnel stages should be defined by the entire team
    Since sales and marketing are looking at the sales pipeline from somewhat different perspectives, each is likely to develop their own take on the various funnel stages. This can lead to a radically different distribution of resources, emphasis, and overall team focus. To prevent this, get the entire group together to define these important stages.
  2. Work out a service level agreement
    This tip has a lot in common with the first. Being very clear about the KPIs for each team as well as remediation activities if these goals are not met will help prevent some of the misunderstandings that can hamper team effectiveness. Even if this agreement appears to have little to do with, for instance, content marketing or other campaign particulars, providing both teams with the same information is important.
  3. Communicate campaigns
    The particulars of a campaign can be lost through poor communication. Members of the marketing team need to provide their sales counterparts with all the details of new, current, and on-going campaigns. This will help sales members effectively communicate with customers and other target audience members.  Internal newsletters can be used to communicate campaign activity as well as share wins, solutions, and new ideas. These short bursts of information encourage engagement, too.
  4. Provide talking points for follow-up
    Providing email templates and talking points drastically improves the effectiveness and efficiency of your sales force as they follow up with their prospects. Also, these simple steps ensure that everyone is communicating the same differentiated points and messages. In the end, everyone wins.
  5. Share performance indicators across teams
    Marketing and sales are going to have slightly different key performance indicators and will, therefore, see a somewhat different set of results. Keeping both teams informed of what their partners’ KPIs are and about the various goals reached will help strengthen the communication between groups. Less catch-up will have to be done during meetings since this important topic is already somewhat familiar to all members.
  6. Score leads
    The goal of alignment is to ensure that the sales team receives warm leads that are in the buying process. Make sure that lead activity is tracked and scored appropriately. This will help keep everyone motivated to nurture weaker leads into strong ones.  There is not a perfect scoring process so continuously adjust your lead scoring program to improve MQL to SQL conversion metrics.
  7. Be open to feedback
    Effective communication flows more than one direction. Marketing leaders need to tap into the sales force’s intimate knowledge of the customer.  Incorporating the feedback into sales collateral and marketing programs improves the performance for everyone. Most importantly, adapting demonstrates responsive leadership skills and the ability to respond dynamically to changing circumstances.

These seven tips might be some of the first tools in your kit for marketing-sales collaboration but they certainly will not be the last. As these two important teams become aligned, leaders will discover many other ways of promoting collective synergy.

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Getting to the Heart of Marketing Performance Measurement

Most executives are familiar with the Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) metric that rose to prominence a few years ago. This simple and straightforward form of measurement was applied to the marketing activities of all kinds of companies to quantify the results of marketing activities.

As useful as this metric has been to the broad conversation about marketing, its practical application over the long-term requires a more critical examination. While MQL has certainly helped further the dialogue surrounding marketing operations overall, one more instance of the age-old breakdown between marketing and sales has taken place.  Can this current schism be addressed? Can a different measure of marketing performance benefit both sides?

Identifying Specific Shortcomings

Though qualified leads have certainly helped marketers adopt a scientific, numbers-based approach, this method has proven to be less useful for the sales pipeline. Two specific shortcomings have become evident:

  • Tracking the number of qualified leads does not necessarily reflect or meaningfully predict incoming revenue.
  • The rate of closed deals can fall despite application of the metric.

These two apparent shortcomings are closely connected. The emergence of these complaints actually points to a disconnection between sales and marketing.

What Can We Learn?

Because few companies are selling products within a rapidly expanding market, each team must acknowledge the parameters of the market where your products or services compete. Specifically, your team should quickly react the competition’s actions. The MQL metric as it is commonly applied cannot accomplish this in a direct manner; thus it fails to draw attention to this all-important aspect of revenue generation.

In most circumstances, there are a finite number of customers interested in purchasing your product. It can be reasonably concluded that a company’s industry peers are using lead generation methods of similar sophistication; competition for greater win rates between companies is the natural result. Additionally, there is likely to be an upper limit to the number of units sold within a period of time. Since MQLs cannot grow faster than the current market, the closing rates projected by the metric have logical limits.

Sales professionals will also point out that market influence should take into account customer behavior, another aspect that the qualified lead approach does not account for. In the past, the traditional B2B marketing model did not always recognize the way that customer activity influenced marketing programs. Once a customer buying cycle is applied to current marketing efforts, additional shortcomings of the qualified lead metric become evident.

Improving Metrics, Improving Performance

Though MQLs have been shown to have certain shortcomings, they can still be useful if they are applied correctly. Specifically, it is helpful to tie marketing performance to the conversion rate of closed deals. This is arguably the most important metric since it most clearly demonstrates the success or failure of all related metrics and strategies. If a large number of MQLs nonetheless have a low conversion rate, latter stages of the sales pipeline must be examined.

The emergence of competitive win rates is going to be the real evidence of an improved application of MQLs. Revenue growth never fails to be a strong measure of marketing performance, though customer retention rates should also be considered. Though we will no doubt see the emergence of increasingly nuanced marketing metrics, these two measurements remain valid.

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