In my 15+ years as a B2B Marketing Professional, I've seen many changes, specifically within the demand generation function.  In fact, it wasn't too long ago that we were mass mailing thousands of #10 letter and postcard campaigns or even worse broadcasting out the dreaded Fax campaign.  Tracking success was difficult and understanding which channels worked well was even harder.

Now it’s 2013, and through extensive trial and error, along with cutting edge technology, we have all been transformed into Marketing Super Hero’s, Revenue Rockstars or whatever superlative that’s become trendy over the past few years. Marketing automation has given us the power to run multi-channel, dynamic content, industry segmented nurture programs. Sales Enablement technology has turned us into content and sales tool creating machines, pushing out and sharing more material with sales than ever before.

So with all of this great knowledge and technology, why is it that, according to Forbes, 50% of B2B sales staff continue to miss their quotas? The culprit, according to sales, is the quality and volume of leads from marketing. The marketing department may be quick to snap back that sales is ignoring their leads or not trying hard enough to close them. The more things change, the more they remain the same!

The truth is, bringing together sales and marketing is much like a marriage, it takes work!  There is no magic potion that will immediately join the two groups in perfect harmony.  However if you follow these 6 fairly simple steps you should be able to find the utopia that is sales and marketing alignment:

  1. Consistent, Open Communication: Much like Fax broadcasts, gone are the days of marketing viewing sales as the customer. The customer is now THE CUSTOMER!  Marketers should be participating in sales kick-offs, weekly sales meetings and even tagging along on sales calls to truly get an understanding of the pains that customers face and challenges the sales team must overcome. This relationship with sales now must be a partnership.
  2. Understand Sales Revenue Targets and Commit: Sales targets have to be marketing’s targets. Take sales revenue targets and work backward to figure out precisely what marketing needs to generate. Key stats needed to accurately perform this exercise are:
      1. Average deal size,
      2. Percent of generated pipeline required from marketing,
      3. Average length of sales cycle,
      4. Percent of deals closed in pipeline,
      5. Percent  of “Sales Accepted Leads”  (SAL’s) that enter pipeline,
      6. Percent of leads that become SAL’s.
  3. Put Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) in Place: SLA’s force sales and marketing to agree on key items such as the definition of a lead, and the best point to hand a lead off. Marketing therefore knows exactly what sales wants out of a lead, rendering the age old “quality” complaint moot.
  4. Goal The Entire Marketing Team Based on Sales Targets: Forcing marketers to achieve quantitative goals like sales gets everybody on the team laser focused on corporate revenue targets.  All Marketers, from Product, to PR to Demand Gen, should constantly be asking themselves “Is what I am working on somehow generating or progressing pipeline?”
  5. Make Marketing Automation Sales Best Friend: As modern day marketers, we already know we cannot live without our marketing automation solution, but did you know that many marketing automation platforms actually cater directly to sales needs as well? For example, Leadformix by CallidusCloud provides an easy to use platform where sales can painlessly build personalized website visitor reports based on their unique territories, and run easy to set up mini drip campaigns.
  6. Don’t Leave Sales at the Altar: Once marketing has passed a lead to sales that’s met the SLA, marketing’s job is far from complete, in fact, it’s just beginning. Sales now needs marketing more than ever. Sales Enablement technology allows marketers to provide their sales team with relevant sales tools and compelling content in real time, easily accessible in the field on any mobile device.

By taking this holistic approach to aligning your sales and marketing teams, having 50% of your salesforce missing their quota should go the way of the broadcast fax campaign!

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