Many of the businesses I talk to have a strong, dependable, hard-working sales team that spend a lot of their time finding new and qualified prospects, and mostly... trying to set appointments with them. If you’re lucky, then you also have a marketing team that is responsible for bringing in sales qualified leads each month to help sales spend less time setting appointments and more time actually presenting and closing deals.
Let’s say you do have some sort of marketing—inbound or outbound—that is in place to help generate new leads for your sales team. It’s quite possible that it’s still not enough. Marketing might often hear things like, “These leads aren’t any good,” or, “I tried to contact them but never heard back.”
Don’t worry. You’re not alone.
This is what we typically diagnose as a lack of sales and marketing alignment, and it’s not one department’s fault but it is something that you can address in order to have better leads for sales, close more business, and save your salespeople and marketing department valuable and precious time.
Here are the top reasons sales doesn’t have better leads, which can be remedied with a sales and marketing service level agreement (SLA).
1. Marketing isn’t getting the detailed feedback they need from sales.
It’s critical that your salespeople are sharing exactly why a lead is or isn’t qualified. This is truly the only way that marketing can optimize and improve their lead generation efforts.
2. You aren’t asking prospects the right questions.
If you have forms online, it’s important that the right questions are being asked. What does a salesperson absolutely need to know in order to determine whether this lead is worth their time?
3. You don’t have clear lead definitions.
If your sales and marketing teams haven’t ever sat down together to discuss who your best prospects are and the information you need to uncover them, then you are really missing the boat here. Everyone should completely understand and agree upon exactly what makes a lead, a lead. When are they marketing qualified? When are they sales qualified? What makes a lead an opportunity?
4. You aren’t tracking the process or results.
Again, without detailed feedback you can’t figure out what’s working or what’s not. You also will have no way to optimize your lead follow up efforts. This means you’ve got to have a clear process outlined, and marketing needs to know what the outcomes were for different leads. Not just the wins.
They need to know how many calls or emails it took on average to set an appointment--this could mean more lead nurturing should have taken place before they handed the lead off.
5. Sales has no idea what marketing actually does or how it helps them.
Marketing is a sales initiative, right? We advertise and market our brands to grow our businesses. We want to generate more traffic, more leads, more customers, more referrals, and so on. If sales has no idea what marketing is up to, and they aren’t invited to provide feedback and insights, then they’re not going to trust that the leads you give them are even worth following up with.
Heading down the path toward a true sales and marketing alignment within your organization isn’t going to just benefit revenue and the bottom line, it’s going to positively affect much of what you do and how you do it. Sales and marketing departments have lived too long on separate islands, it’s about time we give them the opportunity to learn from one another and to boost each other toward success.
So, how do you do it?
It all starts with a plan, and we typically solve these problems by conducting a thorough Sales and Marketing Service Level Agreement (SLA) Workshop. The main areas that need to be covered, and agreed upon, by all the key members of both your marketing and sales departments include:
- Definitions for a Lead, Marketing Qualified Lead, Sales Qualified Lead, and Opportunity
- Outline your Ideal Customer Profile and match that with the questions you are asking in forms
- Get on the same page for all your revenue goals, including individual marketing and sales goals
- Determine expectations for team members including how they are expected to contribute to your marketing and sales efforts, and the information they should learn including needed education or training
- Outline a detailed lead follow up process including who will do what and when
- Establish a lead tracking system to track all of your progress
- Put systems in place to encourage, and ensure, ongoing feedback and communication between both departments
This might seem like a lot (and it is!) but these are all very important conversations that need to be had in order to truly get results from any inbound marketing program you have in place.
Interested in learning more? Watch our pre recorded webinar: 20 Sales & Marketing Metrics Every Organization Should be Tracking.