What Sales and Marketing Can Learn From the US World Cup Team

The US team has played some excellent football so far at the World Cup against (on paper) very strong opposition. Sunday’s game was a rollercoaster of emotions, but nevertheless a result the team would have taken at the start of the tournament.  The US have a great chance of getting through today which will do wonders for the popularity of the ‘beautiful game’ in America. In fact, Sunday’s riveting game, viewed by 24.7 million people was the most watched football game in US history. Quality performances can deliver high returns. The story is little different between sales and marketing, which all too often share an uneasy relationship.

Sales relentlessly screams for more leads but also screams when the quality isn't there. So how do you balance the needs of sales when you pass on leads as a marketer? Here are 5 steps to keep your sales folks happy and fed with leads:

what sales and marketing can learn from the us world cup team

  1. Lead Qualification: A dedicated lead qualification team can help screen leads before handoff to ensure that only leads that mean business are passed onto sales. This pre-screening can ensure better lead qualification, superior prioritization, shrink the sales cycle, and enrich your CRM systems with data. This apart, it can ensure quick response to website inquiries. A Harvard Business Review study showed that a company that responds to a website query in an hour is seven times more likely to qualify the lead than a company that responds after an hour.

  2. Lead Nurturing & Lead Scoring: 6-9 touches is typically what’s required to convert a lead. Companies with marketing departments that excel at nurturing have seen tangible benefits with 9% more sales reps making quota, according to CSOInsights. Lead scoring, which can help prioritize leads, is not a one and done exercise and works best if sales is committed to giving feedback to refine the handoff point. Together, lead nurturing and scoring help create crucial initial parts of an optimized lead to money process which can be repeated thousands of times to generate opportunities for sales.

  3. SLA: A Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the lead qualification team (which can be a subset of the marketing team) and sales can help drive productivity, achieve company goals, and bring about sales-marketing alignment, all the time ensuring accountability for marketing. An SLA should set clear targets for marketing, specify marketing’s contribution to the pipeline, and define lead requirements.

  4. Ensure Sales Follows Up on Leads: Often sales will put leads on the back burner if they won’t close this quarter or mark them as “dead” if they can’t find a point of contact. Ideally, your marketing team should have a close relationship with sales leaders, complemented by joint meetings, and visibility into what sales is doing. Follow up attempts should be included in the SLA - reps are required to send X number of emails and make Y number of phone calls before they can call a lead dead.

  5. Reporting & Analytics: Your job as a marketer doesn’t end when you pass on a lead to sales. Unless you want a leaky funnel, it is important to track the leads through the funnel and make sure none are stuck gathering dust - nurture them back to life. To do this you need to make sure you have good reporting on the funnel so you can see easily what’s stuck, what are the fastest converting channels, and what are the best converting channels?

Good alignment on goals is the key to a great performance. If the team isn’t in sync then you are going to struggle - a point well demonstrated by the English team repeatedly at the World Cup. Jurgen Klinsmann is an excellent coach and he has instilled a great team spirit which I hope will power the US to victory and end in a successful World Cup campaign!

By Giles House | June 26th, 2014 | Marketing

About the Author: Giles House

Giles House

Giles House is Executive Vice President, and Chief Product Officer, SAP Sales Cloud.