End the Sibling Rivalry Between Marketing and Sales

A common topic I read about is the departmental feud between Marketing and Sales. In one regard, they are siblings that clearly act as one. One blames the other for the lack of quality, quantity, or a variety of other items. Although each department comes from the same family (company), their approach towards one another is due for a revamping. This is the way to create synergy between Marketing & Sales: treat each other as if they were a potential customer!

When someone reaches out to a new prospect, each action is strategic and carefully executed. The prospect explains the circumstances, their needs are evaluated, recommendations are given and a professional relationship is developed. Most times, not everything is solved immediately and the sales cycle takes full effect. Marketing and Sales should adopt the inner campaign cycle that should let eat department understand the necessary development process of each new marketing or sales campaign. By having a more professional relationship as opposed to a dueling sibling rivalry, marketing and sales will naturally be able to let synergy evolve between them.

Marketing Sherpa: Never Send Unqualified Leads into your CRM

In Marketing Sherpa’s recap of their B2B Lead Generation Summit, they designate one point as the summit’s key takeaway. The “most scribbled-down-tip” was when Jackie Kiley of Sybase explained the importance of passing only qualified leads into your company’s CRM. Marketing Sherpa’s article highlights this point reinforcing that your firm should “*never* put suspects, inquiries, or unqualified leads into [your CRM]”.

By not filtering your leads, you send the good and the bad onto your sales team, and create an immense amount of “noise” which the sales people must sort through to be successful. Rejection and lost time results in a less-than-motivated sales team, that will begin to distrust leads sent to them from the marketing department.

A lead qualifying tool can improve the relationship between your sales and marketing departments by allowing for a more seamless interaction between the two. Marketing automation software allows only qualified leads to make it to the sales pipeline, allowing both departments to more effectively accomplish their goals.

Also key in aligning sales and marketing is providing scheduled feedback on leads by having sales report on the status of leads (good, bad, accepted, rejected, etc.) Doing so is the final step in closing the loop between the two functions by further refining the filter for the next sales cycle.

The Golden Rule of Lead Generation

More and more, marketers are beginning to embrace quality over quantity and putting in place steps to help the sales team improve their odds of closing the deal. Brian Carroll sheds some light on the issue of cost-per-lead vs. cost-per-opportunity in his post, Why Cost-Per-Lead Budgets Fail and Fewer Leads Are Better. Though it can be hard to accept such a claim – why would any one want fewer leads, isn’t it a pure number game? – Carroll says, “The truth is that sales people care very little about the cost of the leads we generate. What they really care about is how many of those leads will actually become viable sales opportunities.” 

For a small sales team, the information being passed in to the CRM system can be overwhelming, making it difficult to efficiently sort through the “noise” and determine which leads to focus on. It’s easy to dedicate too much time to unqualified leads and unknowingly passing by valuable opportunities. One step marketers are taking to improve lead quality is developing a system to triage leads and evaluate them for “sales-readiness.” Instead of dumping huge numbers of leads in to a CRM system, marketers are using this lead qualifying system and keeping the junk out of the sales team’s hands.Management and web automation systems can serve as a great “holding pen” for leads before they are passed in to the CRM, allowing the marketing team to review prospects, assign a grade or score and pass the record to the appropriate sales rep. 

If marketers can begin to live by the rule of quality over quantity, they will see a great improvement in their conversion and greatly increase their percentage of qualified opportunities. Not to mention, they will get a big “thank you” from the sales team!

Use Marketing Automation to Do More with Less

B2B marketers who have budget surpluses, more than enough staff to accomplish all of your objectives, and work from 10-4, please raise your hands. Why don’t I see anyone with her hand up? Yep, you guessed it, B2B marketers are chronically overworked and understaffed. What’s worse is that most organizations require the marketing department to spend significant time and resources on items that will not necessarily increase lead generation effectiveness or return on marketing investment, the two most import key performance indicators for a b2b marketing program.

Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, states that B2B marketers spend too much time on non-revenue-driving activities. He cites a post from Michael Webb of Six Sigma selling who lists the following tasks that take up valuable time and resources from already understaffed marketing departments:

  • Time spent on administration, reporting, and menial tasks (leaving little time for customers)
  • Trade shows and events that generate boxes of “leads” not worth calling on
  • Marketing literature that no one reads
  • Wasting time with the wrong prospects

Each of these tasks can be made more efficient or alleviated altogether through technology. Marketing automation solutions provide advanced micro-level analytics and automation allowing marketers to focus their efforts on their most promising leads and marketing vehicles.

Less time spent on reporting — by consolidating all marketing vehicles into one interface, slicing and dicing data should be a lot easier than when using disparate tools

Automated nurturing for “boxes of trade show leads” — let the software do the work by nurturing these “suspects.” The ones who respond will be flagged by your system and the ones who don’t… well… they were probably interested in your free iPod.

Marketing literature that no one reads — micro -level web analytics shows you exactly which white papers your promising prospects are downloading and reading. Use what you have learned from your first few papers to tailor any future collateral.

Wasting time with the wrong prospects — automatically scoring and/or grading prospects will show your sales teams exactly where to spend their time. Scores are typically based on implicit factors (online behavior — clicks, page views, etc.) and grades are based on how well the prospect fits your ideal customer profile (industry, job title, etc.). Combining these two factors gives your reps a very objective way to prioritize their time.

There are a number of good solutions available and they are starting to generate some press. It is only a matter of time before these tools are mainstream. In the mean time, marketers who take advantage of marketing automation will reap the benefits of streamlined marketing and sales processes.