We sometimes tend to talk about sales and marketing as if they were one entity. In most companies, though, these two vital functions are handled by different groups. The marketing group will be focused on getting the company’s message out to the public and driving them towards your website and products. The sales team steps in at that point, working to convert those leads into closed sales. While they’re working on two aspects of the same process, the relationship between them is not always what we’d call a love affair. The Harvard Business Review reported a while back that in a recent survey, 87% of the comments made by sales or marketing professionals about their counterparts on the other side were decidedly negative.
For the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to assume that you’re working an inbound marketing campaign, and your marketing efforts are aimed at online lead generation. If you’re hoping to maximize the results of their efforts, you’re going to need to make sure the sales team is in sync with this process. Here are some of the reasons why:
1. Marketing needs to know the quality of the leads they’re bringing in.
Sure, your marketing department has an awesome online lead generation engine, and you’re getting tons of traffic on your landing pages. But if those aren’t the type of leads that your sales team is able to convert, it’s essential that they communicate that to marketing. They also need to provide specific feedback as to why leads they’re getting are qualified or not, so that marketing can make the appropriate adjustments to their campaign.
2. Marketing needs to know what questions to ask.
Your sales team undoubtedly has a set of questions that they use in order to qualify their leads. If your online lead generation efforts are centered around forms on your landing pages, it’s important to ask the right questions in those forms. The answers to those questions will enable salespeople to quickly determine whether a lead is worth their time and effort.
3. You need to track your results.
Sometimes it seems that that the marketing team is working in a vacuum, and really doesn’t see anything that happens after they get the lead. If they don’t know what the sales team is doing, how efficiently will they be able to generate the right leads? They need to know what the results were obtained from the leads they passed on to the sales team, and how long it took to get to that point, how many calls were made, etc.
4. Everyone needs to know when a lead is really qualified.
Is marketing passing the leads to sales too soon? Would more lead nurturing have improved the process, and saved a lot of time and effort from the sales department? You won’t know these answers unless there’s some real dialogue between the two groups.
5. The sales team needs to know what the marketing team is actually doing.
You might be surprised to find out how little your sales team really understands the online lead generation process. In the aforementioned study, salespeople referred to members of the marketing team as “academic” and “irrelevant”. It goes the same way in the other direction too. Marketing pros referred to salespeople as “cowboys”, “simple minded”, and “incompetent”. While some amount of rivalry between groups is acceptable and perhaps even healthy, this shows a profound lack of understanding of the whole process. Success in your sales and marketing efforts is going to require more understanding and alignment between the two groups.