If your sales and marketing departments aren’t working together, you’re living the past. Changes to how consumers purchase, particularly due to the internet, has caused a need for sales and marketing to become more customer-centric and work seamlessly together. In this article, we explain how to manage your sales and marketing teams for the best possible success in 2017.
Make sure that you keep track of your sales leads with a CRM such as Pipedrive. You can track the status of each potential deal you’re working on, and get notified when it’s time to take the follow-up action. Read on for more information, or visit their website and sign up for a free trial.
What is Sales and Marketing?
B2B Marketing is the process of connecting with customers at the early stage in their buying process to build awareness and generate customer leads for sales to work on. Sales is the process that qualifies these leads and manages them through the subsequent stages of the sales process until a sale is closed successfully or not.
In recent years, sales and marketing have become more and more integrated to the point that they are often referred together as the sales and marketing team. This has become essential for B2B businesses as it allows you to connect with future customers earlier in their buying cycle.
How Sales and Marketing Used to be
Let’s turn the clock back to the 1990’s. The role of marketing was to make customers aware of products and services. Before internet, this was done with TV, radio and print advertising.
The role of sales was to identify and make contact with customers from cold calling until this resulted in new business. The only real overlap between sales and marketing arose if marketing was tasked to create print ads that had response mechanisms. The thing that turned this on its head was the internet.
How the Internet Changed Things
As the internet has become mature, customers increasingly use it first when we want to find a solution to a given problem.
This means that, as customers, we no longer totally depend on speaking to sales people to find out what we need to know. Instead, we can refer to a resource that we consider less bias and easier to trust – Google!
As a result, most customers now complete 70% of their purchase decision-making process without the need to talk to sales. In some instances, they do not ever talk to sales as they complete their purchase online.
For the purpose of this article, I am now going to wholly focus on the role of marketing in the sales management process and not its role in building brand awareness.
The New Role of Marketing
Marketing is now sales and marketing for the first 70% of the sales process for many businesses. Whether it is 30%, 50% or 70% is determined by the customer. They decide at what stage in the process they wish to engage with sales.
It’s also partly determined by marketing. If your online customer experience provides your customer with everything that they need to know to assess your product or service, then they are less likely to want to engage with sales.
Innovative marketers soon recognized how they could redefine their role. Rather than function as a support act to sales, marketing has become a primary selling mechanism with clear performance metrics that can be tested and improved. The smart sales folks realize that, given the way the internet had changed, they needed to redefine the way that they work with marketing or they would be increasingly disconnected from the source of new customers.
How to Bring Sales and Marketing Together in 5 Steps
One area where small businesses now have a distinct advantage over large enterprises, is that they are able to flex, adapt and change quicker to changing market conditions. Let’s explore what you have to do. In essence, there are 5 key steps involved in transitioning to a more seamless sales and marketing approach:
1. Review Your Business Structure
Traditionally, sales and marketing are considered separate skills. This is why, until recently, the accepted wisdom was to have a Sales Director to head up the sales function and a Marketing Director to head up the marketing function.
If you are going to bring sales and marketing together in a unified operation, this is no longer helpful. The solution is to organize your business structure to have one person responsible for sales and marketing. This person can simply be called Head of Sales and Marketing. You will also see them called Chief Revenue Officer or Chief Customer Officer.
The title does not matter too much; what is important is that this individual understands both the skillset of sales and digital marketing. If they do, they will recognize that both are essential to business growth and combine them more seamlessly without one or the other dominating. Sales cannot close deals without leads and marketing cannot create any real value without deals getting closed.
With this person in place, working as one team suddenly becomes a realistic goal. However, this does not mean that all sales and marketing activity should become blurred together. Far from it. Sales needs its role clearly defined and so does marketing. In addition, the interface between both of these functions also needs to be clearly understood. When does responsibility pass from sales to marketing; and when does in pass back again in the other direction?
2. Clarify the Role of Sales and Marketing
In a business where sales and digital marketing work seamlessly together, marketing is recognized as being best placed to engage with the customer online and sales is considered best placed to engage with the customer in the real world.
The role of marketing is to insert your business into your customer’s online purchasing journey and provide them with the information that they need to consider your brand as an option. Ultimately, their goal is to get prospects to sign-up and provide their contact details so that sales can follow them up in the real world. Pursuit of this objective by marketing is commonly referred to as a lead acquisition or lead generation strategy.
Sales is responsible for pursuing customers in the real-world. In a small business with limited budget, this does not mean that sales waits for leads to be generated by marketing. Far from it. Sales still needs to network and cold call to generate leads. Why? Because, there are still lots of people who prefer to do all of their business in the real world. However, with this new model, sales will also benefit from all of the leads that marketing generates online.
In some sectors, 80% of sales is still completed offline. In other sectors, 80%+ is completed online, like purchasing business stationery. Whatever the case, more and more of the process is still moving online, which is driven by the customer.
Core Meeting Requirements
By understanding the new roles of sales and marketing in their simplest form, it’s also possible to understand how they need to communicate and what meetings are required. There are two meetings that need to take place regularly:
- A lead acquisition meeting
- A sales progress meeting
Lead Acquisition Meetings
These meetings are used to assess the overall health of the sales pipeline. As such, the core questions being addressed are as follows:
- How many leads did we generate for sales to work on since the last meeting?
- How many leads do we need to generate for sales before the next meeting?
- What proportion will come from online marketing activity?
- What proportion will come from real-word sales activity? Do sales need any tactical support from marketing to help with this e.g. marketing collaterals?
- Are we getting the lead quality right?
Given the nature of the meeting, the Head of Sales and Marketing leads the meeting and both marketing and sales executives attend. It makes sense for this meeting to take place with all team members logged into the sales pipeline dashboard within your CRM system, like Pipedrive, Prosperworks, or Insightly, which are all well suited to small business.
Sales Progress Meetings
This meeting is also led by the Head of Sales and Marketing and the only other attendees are sales execs. This is because the focused activity of this progress meeting is:
- What deals are we going to complete before the next meeting?
- What deals are we going to progress from one stage to the next through the pipeline?
- Are we still as confident as we were in the last sales meeting that each sale is sitting in the right stage? Do any need to be weeded out?
3. Adopt Sales and Marketing Tools
Just as sales and marketing have evolved, there has been an explosion in software and online tools that enable sales and marketing to work more efficiently and more closely together:
- Appointment setting systems like Acuity or 10to8
- Video conference tools like Zoom
- Webinar tools like GoToWebinar
- Desktop publishing tools like Adobe Marketing Cloud
- Presentation tools like Slidebean
However, the tool that has most contributed to sales and marketing being able to work together more seamlessly is the customer relationship management (CRM) toolset.
These tools allow you to measure and manage every stage of the sales process from lead acquisition to closing sales. CRM tools also provide a dashboard of the current sales pipeline that acts as an excellent realtime agenda for lead acquisition progress meetings and sales progress meetings alike.
This is because it is possible to measure and manage the marketing activity that generates leads for sales. Marketing knows when it’s job is done and can move leads to the next stage where sales are ready to pick them up. Importantly, marketing can see through the system how sales progress with each lead they support. Which leads convert, how many convert so that they can learn from this and improve the quality of leads supported next time around.
Sales are able to receive new leads and follow-up them up to qualify them. If they do not qualify as target marketing, they may be discarded, but marketing will understand why. Or they may qualify as target market but go cold or become unresponsive. In which case, they can return to marketing and re-enter the lead nurturing program. A good CRM system makes this really easy to do in real-time so that anyone involved in sales or marketing can see the current status of any lead of opportunity.
4. Develop a Lead Acquisition Campaign Model
A lead acquisition campaign model is designed to nurture online customer relationships. This immediately precedes the roll of sales and usually results in new leads entering the sales pipeline in the first stage. They are often referred to as unqualified leads because they have not yet been qualified by sales, which follows at the very next stage. They are also often called marketing qualified leads (MQLs).
A typical leadgen campaign plan, explains your lead acquisition processes. Let’s take a look at one example:
The classic lead generation model has 4 stages. Your model will vary depending on your specific lead sources and the type of product or service you’re selling. However, here are the typical stages:
- Stage 1 – Content development: Campaign content is developed that speaks to the customer problem or need and starts to engage prospective customers online. The content may result in a series of communications that identify with the needs of the customer as they explore their needs and potential solutions.
- Stage 2 – Content distribution: Campaign content is sliced and diced to suit the different channels that your business is using to communicate with its customers online. In our example, webinar, social media, email, online advertising and affiliate marketing are being used as the channel mix.
- Stage 3 – Lead conversion: Some of the leads that receive the content click through to your website landing page to learn more. This stage may be incentivised. For example, sign-up to receive our e-book.
- Stage 4 – Lead transfer to sales: Leads are funneled through to the first stage of the sales pipeline in your CRM tool. At this stage you may only know their first name, email address and maybe their phone number too. When the lead arrives in the CRM system, it activates sales to respond. Usually the objective of the next stage is to call the prospective customer and qualify the lead.
This sort of process works particularly well when your website landing page is integrated with your CRM system tool. Tools like Pipedrive and Prosperworks make this easy.
Adopt a Data-Driven Approach
Another advantage of using a good CRM system is that they will provide you with reports that will help you to measure and manage your performance. For example, you can auto-generate reports that make it simple to understand:
- The conversion rate of leads from one stage of the sales pipeline to the next
- The time it is takes for your leads to pass through each stage of the sales pipeline
- The proportion of leads that you lose at each stage
To learn more about how to measure your sales pipeline performance, you can find everything you need to know in our sales pipeline metrics article.
5. Review the Way Your Sales and Marketing Team is Rewarded
The final key step toward aligning sales and marketing teams is to review how they are rewarded. Traditionally only salespeople have been rewarded for closing deals (e.g. with commission or sales contests). However, when sales and marketing are brought together, there’s now a lot more people contributing to the sale.
You need to take this into account when developing your compensation strategy. Rather than go with a traditional commission model, you may want to consider a bonus pool for both sales and marketing based on performance metrics.
The Bottom Line
Historically, sales and marketing worked quite independently. However, since the internet has matured and more customers choose to complete more of their purchasing decision making process online, it has led to sales and marketing being much more interdependent.
Bringing sales and marketing together seamlessly results in more sales because you can not only nurture leads online, but also continue to nurture them offline too.