Every business wants to increase revenue, but too often companies and agencies focus on maximizing leads to meet their goals. It’s relatively easy to measure the success of marketing dollars based on an increase in the number of leads, but increasing leads is simply an intermediate goal that has no impact on the bottom line. The most important goal is to maximize sales.
Business leaders don’t always think about the power of combining sales and marketing to change that focus. It’s a bit more difficult to determine how those marketing dollars contribute to an increase in sales, so the focus on leads seems to make sense.
When sales and marketing aren’t working well together, the problem is that the quality of leads isn’t consistent. Flooding the sales department with low-quality leads simply diverts their attention from focusing on maximizing sales. You can eliminate that problem by ensuring that your sales and marketing departments work together to set strategies and goals.
What Happens When Sales and Marketing Aren’t Aligned?
In summary, the job of the marketing department is to promote the company’s products and services and to attract buyers/leads to the company. The sales department is supposed to get leads from the marketing efforts and turn them into customers. It sounds easy.
However, when sales and marketing aren’t aligned, neither department can do its job well. You can see this frustration in what the two departments complain about. The marketing department thinks that sales would be higher if the sales department did a better job of following up on leads. The sales department thinks the answer to higher sales is getting more and higher quality leads from marketing.
If the two departments aren’t aligned, the sales process stalls. This is typically the result of no communication between the departments and the departments being measured by different criteria.
For example, if marketing and sales aren’t in agreement on what makes an ideal customer, the marketing department will continue to identify leads that the sales staff can’t convert to customers. If the two departments use different measurements of success, each one can be successful on its own, but the sales process is still stalled.
If there is no formal feedback system between the two departments, sales can’t help marketing refine their definition of an ideal customer, and marketing can’t help sales take advantage of marketing campaigns to close sales.
Advantages of Sales and Marketing Alignment
Research shows that aligning marketing and sales has an amazing impact on business success, showing up to a 208% increase in revenue, 38% higher conversion rates, and 36% better customer retention. Some of the other advantages of aligning sales and marketing include:
- Marketing improves its ability to find the best leads. When sales and marketing are aligned, they both agree on what makes a good lead, and they can develop a strategy for moving a lead through the entire buy process, from awareness to the final sale.
- Marketing improves their understanding of the customer. The salespeople are the ones who talk to leads and customers every day. In a vacuum, marketing can try to determine what will motivate a lead to become a customer, but they lack the day-to-day interaction with leads and customers. Working together, sales can help the marketing staff understand the roadblocks they run into and contribute to refining the definition of a high-quality lead.
Get More Customer Feedback And Nurture Sales Leads
- Sales and marketing can provide feedback on marketing campaigns. Salespeople aren’t perfect, and they may not automatically know what hot buttons to address with leads from a marketing campaign. On the other hand, the marketing people can learn more about the results of the sales department’s efforts to help improve future marketing efforts. This feedback loop is critical for making the efforts of both departments more effective.
- Marketing can take a strong role in nurturing leads. If a lead isn’t ready to buy, the salespeople shouldn’t need to spend time staying in touch. But, the marketing department can work with sales to segment the universe of leads that need nurturing and develop a strong follow-up program for each of those segments.
- Staying in touch with customers is critical to customer retention. To a point, Marketing is effective in staying top of mind with customers. However, segmenting customers for follow-up programs is much easier when sales and marketing work together to identify the triggers that should result in contact based on the customer’s situation.
How to Approach Combining Sales and Marketing
Combining sales and marketing doesn’t necessarily mean that you create a new department encompassing both teams. Sales and marketing are different enough that it makes sense to manage them separately as long as they work closely together. Here are four key tips for achieving the alignment that will help you maximize sales.
1. Create a Sales Funnel
Start by understanding how marketing and sales are involved in each step of your overall sales funnel. This is a graphic representation that clearly shows the handoff from marketing to sales. It will help your two teams to very clearly visualize why it’s so important for them to work together.
A simple sales funnel may consist of four stages: Awareness, Interest, Decision, and Action. Another company with a more complex product may need to add details such as Develop Solution, Demonstration, Evaluation, and Negotiation.
In either event, identify the place where marketing will turn over a lead to sales. Get agreement from both departments on:
- The criteria that marketing will use to decide when a lead should be turned over to sales usually called a Marketing Qualified Lead
- The criteria that sales will use to determine when a lead is worth pursuing usually called a Sales Qualified Lead
Sales qualified leads will typically turn into opportunities that the salespeople will pursue. If a lead doesn’t reach Sales Qualified Lead status, it needs to be turned back over to marketing for nurturing.
2. Agree on An Ideal Customer
Knowing who you are selling to is important for both marketing and sales, and your marketing and sales departments have probably already decided who their ideal customer is. Now you need to make sure that both departments agree on one definition. Lack of agreement in this area is the root of many problems.
3. Coordinate Sales and Marketing Campaigns
Let’s assume you’re selling software. If your marketing team targets User Type 1 and your sales team targets User Type 2 at the same time, chaos will ensue. Marketing will be frustrated because the sales team isn’t focusing on the leads they’re sending over, but the sales team will be trying to meet their goals for User Type 2 sales.
4. Track Joint KPIs
Traditionally, sales and marketing have set different Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), a fact that has continued to drive a wedge between the two departments. When sales and marketing are aligned, it’s possible to establish joint KPIs, for example:
- Length of the sales cycle: As sales and marketing align, the sales cycle should shorten.
- MQL to Opportunity Ratio: Both departments should work toward increasing the number of MQL leads that turn into opportunities.
- Opportunity to Customer Ratio: Both departments can contribute to more opportunities turning into more customers.
Symphonic Digital wants to make sure you get the most from your digital marketing. It starts with developing a mindset that moves from leads to sales. Once you’ve achieved that, we can help you increased your sales with a data-driven approach that focuses on finding your audience.
If you’re working toward maximizing your sales, Symphonic Digital can help. Call us at 888-964-3498 or send an email for more information.