Marketing vs. sales. Sales vs. marketing! Who will win in an all out battle to secure customers and take home the glory? No one and everyone is the answer here. When it comes to the marketing team and the sales team, there should never be any competition, and certainly never any rivalry. Traditionally, the marketing team has focused on finding and getting the customer somewhat in the door before sending them on over to sales to close the deal (good luck, sales!!), but all that is changing, and fast. As attribution technology has gotten better, marketers are able, and expected, to stick with the customer throughout the lifecycle, including after a close.
For example, AdStage’s newest product, Join, is a solution that strengthens the alignment between marketing and sales by letting marketers report, optimize, and automate campaigns based on down-funnel metrics that once fell strictly into the sales funnel.
Now that marketers are better able to speak the sales language, it’s even more important for the two teams to sync up as they go after the same goal – ROI.
In this aspect, winning at sales doesn’t mean commandeering your colleagues with data, collateral, and instructions. Winning means understanding what both teams need to succeed and working together to make it happen.
Define and agree on expectations
In the business world, expectations usually come in the form of KPIs. Each team and each individual on that team has different KPIs, even though everyone is working toward the same goal of making the company money. Sometimes the KPIs will overlap, but the key players will care about them for different reasons. For example, the marketing team probably looks at lead generation as an opportunity to reveal which markets, channels, and targeting profiles yield high-quality leads while the sales team wants to identify the leads that brought in the highest ROI and were easiest to close.
The simplest way to get on the same page is exactly that – getting key players in the same room to decide on KPIs, and then recording them in a shared document. Most organizations call this all-important document a marketing and sales service level agreement or SLA. Not only does this doc include goals for each team, but equally important, it highlights the characteristics of when an MQL becomes an SQL, and is, therefore, ready to be handed off. And not just when, but how. When everyone reads back through the SLA, there should be no questions about when and how something will be done since this document acts as the holy grail blueprint for how marketing and sales will succeed together.
Deliver high-quality leads that are ready for sales
As mentioned above, this will be a major component of your SLA, but low-quality leads are one of the biggest complaints you’ll hear from the sales team, so it deserves another mention and its own section. If your marketing team has been focused on generating tons of leads, there’s probably no arguing about the quality of who you’re sending over to sales. But it’s all fixable!
First, ask the sales team what their perfect customer looks like, then build your strategy to find and acquire him or her. The clearest starting point is to develop buyer personas based on what the sales team describes as the type of customer they’ve already had success with, and therefore want lots more of. Take a look at your current customer base for indicators on who this ideal customer is, but do your market research, too. Facebook has some amazing tools, which we covered in this post about creating powerful customer personas, that can give you a jumpstart to building out your personas. From there, you can build and refine your strategies and targeted campaigns to find and speak to this person.
Collaborate to produce helpful collateral
Ask the sales team how much of the marketing collateral that’s available they actually use, and you’ll probably be surprised (and a little disappointed) at the answer. Many marketing teams spend hours churning out beautifully designed leave-behinds, pamphlets, and presentations that quickly collect dust because they weren’t created with a sales focus, don’t speak to a target customer, didn’t come with directions on how to use them, or one of many other oft fallen into traps.
Sync up with sales to see what they need! Maybe it’s something that’s been on their to-do list for ages and your team has the bandwidth to get it done, or it could be a question they find themselves explaining to customers over and over again that could easily be communicated in a piece of collateral. See what new life you can breathe into old pieces, too. Filter through what’s been working, what’s never been touched, and why.
From there, keep the collaboration going with a shared doc where sales reps can add new collateral requests, offer feedback on existing pieces, and contribute insights on the customers they shared the collateral with and how it was received.
Keep in mind that the best collateral in the world is worthless if no one knows how it exists, or how to use it. With each new release, find out a way to make sure everyone on the sales team knows it’s available, and how and when it’s meant to be used.
Talk, communicate, connect, converse, collaborate, meet
Oftentimes, communication can prevent most problems. Hold regularly scheduled meetings with sales leads to go over KPI updates, in-progress work, collateral building, and results data. This ensures the lines of communication are always open so you can avoid a tension-filled emergency meeting when everything has gone to crap.
Part of this regular meeting time should include a process to share results and give and get feedback. The SLA that you developed at the beginning of the relationship will degrade if you don’t bring it all full circle by sharing results and decisions made from those results and asking for updates from the sales side.
Finally, trust the process and know it will pay off. This is not a one-way street. In the beginning, it might feel a lot like marketing working for the sales team, but it will pay off for everyone. For the marketing team specifically, the proof will be in the pudding, and you’ll have the data to get more budget allocated to the right places.