Is your company’s sales enablement process as effective as it could be? Think about it — how often do you hear about a lead that falls through the cracks, or a sales call that was a waste of time? Maybe more often than you’d like.
Frustration is common among marketing teams that feel their sales counterparts half-heartedly follow up on qualified leads, if at all. On the other hand, sales teams often complain that marketing hands over leads prematurely, or fails to properly vet them for quality. This disconnect could be hurting your business: the Aberdeen Group found that companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve a 20% annual sales revenue growth.
If your sales and marketing teams have trouble working together, it could be evidence of a flawed process. In a few steps, you can create standard expectations and procedures for a more successful lead nurturing and sales conversion process.
Clearly define lead quality expectations
Disagreement over lead quality is one of the most common grievances between sales and marketing teams. Plan a discussion to jointly decide what constitutes a marketing lead, and at what point that lead becomes an opportunity ready for hand-off to the sales team. In the meantime, early-stage leads should remain in the marketing funnel for nurturing campaigns.
For example, a contact that likes your Facebook page is probably not ready to receive a sales call. On the other hand, a lead that visits the Services page of your website or fills out a form to request a demo is probably more receptive to hearing from someone on your sales team.
Decide what actions or “triggers” warrant a hand-off, and make sure everyone is on the same page.
Develop an SLA between Marketing and Sales
A service-level agreement (SLA) functions as an accountability contract between the sales and marketing teams. Marketing may be responsible for generating a certain number of qualified opportunities per month (per agreed upon standards), while the sales team may agree to follow up on opportunities within a certain time frame, meet certain criteria or answer qualifying questions in a certain way. By outlining metrics goals, both teams have clear expectations for the sales process.
Use closed-loop reporting
Opportunities should never disappear from your marketing team’s radar once they’re pushed to sales. Likewise, lead intelligence and other data discovered by the marketing team should be easily accessible by sales to facilitate the closing process. With the right tools, you can create a much smoother handoff:
- Marketing automation software — manages lead nurturing campaigns such as email marketing, and captures lead insight such as buying stage and competitive advantage (think Marketo or Eloqua)
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software — tracks the sales closing process and produces reports for conversion rates, sales volume, etc. (you’re probably familiar with Salesforce, for example)
By implementing these measures, you can encourage your sales and marketing pros to work together as a team, rather than individual organizations with individual goals. When your marketing team spends more time priming your leads for the buying process, your sales team can focus on converting the opportunities that are truly viable.