Sales and marketing often have an uneasy relationship, lacking trust and transparency. But at a time when marketers are being asked to show ROI for all their activities, marketing has little choice but to work with sales to meet the common organizational goal – generate higher revenues.
One of the top priorities for marketers should be to help grow revenues by making sales easy, irrespective of where the lead originated from. This need for change also comes at a time when sales and marketing roles are seeing far greater overlap as the customer buying cycle undergoes a fundamental shift.
Traditionally, marketing would promise to deliver intangible benefits such as branding and capturing mind share. Leads that came their way as a result of their campaigns were promptly handed off to sales with little heed for quality of leads. Over the years this hand off became a thorny issue. Only about 25% of leads passed onto sales qualify as immediate sales opportunities. Three-quarters of the leads were time-wasters, which meant reps had to run pillar-to-post looking for leads to meet quota. With such a low qualification rate it’s obvious why sales began to distrust marketing.
Today, sales reps are demanding a greater focus on quality of leads. Balancing lead quality with quantity is one of the great challenges that B2B marketers face even as it broadens the scope for sales and marketing collaboration.
Sales with its real-world customer intelligence can help marketers improve their processes: firm up lead definitions, frame qualification questions, fine tune lead scoring mechanisms, and develop processes to close loops between sales and marketing. All this can help marketing deliver the goods.
A good relationship has a lot of give and take. Just as sales provides marketing with real-world customer insight, marketing or more specifically, product marketing should provide sales enablement - ensuring sales has all the content, messaging, tools, and analytics it requires at every stage of the buying cycle to close deals. Sales reps shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel and create content on their own for every pitch; this is precious time better spent closing a deal.
Best-in-class companies are better able to align sales and marketing to drive sales performance. According to Aberdeen Group, best-in-class companies tend to have the following in place:
- A two-way feedback mechanism between sales and marketing (56%).
- A process in place to analyze cost/benefit of individual marketing campaigns (56%).
- A mechanism for sales to rate or comment on marketing collateral (47%).
- A clear understanding of which marketing channels are the most effective (47%).
At the end of the day, it all boils down to making sales win. Sales reps are at the center of the lead to money cloud, a step-by-step method which equips sales reps with integrated technologies to turn leads into revenue. Their performance drives the entire process. It’s important that reps are supported however possible, not just by marketing but also by sales ops, and sales managers.