It is no fable that B2B marketing and sales teams can have a hard time seeing eye to eye and working effectively together. For a company to operate efficiently and cooperatively, the relationship between marketing and sales must switch from contenders to routine collaborators.
There are many tools and strategies that can be utilized by a company to develop better communication between your B2B marketing and sales teams. Here are 3 to consider:
1. Set Cohesive Goals
Misalignment in marketing and sales departments can create discontinuities in converting leads to customers and can act as a clog in sales funnels. Separating your sales and marketing goals can contribute to this misalignment.
The focus of marketing and sales will have innate differences, which is why they are characteristically separated into different departments in the first place. However, a cohesive set of goals for both departments to work toward can further increase the likelihood of achieving your revenue goals.
In the State of Inbound 2016 report by HubSpot, prospecting was reported as being the most difficult part of the sales process for salespeople, but the challenges can be mitigated when sales and marketing teams collaborate. When the two teams can collaborate around an end goal, it is more likely that the goal will be met.
2. Clearly Define Your Sales Funnel Stages
It is important for a company to have clearly defined funnel stages so marketing and sales teams understand the same language regarding prospects and future customers.
It is often found in companies that are not aligned that their top to bottom funnel stages have not been clearly defined and agreed upon. When this happens, the sales team may be expecting certain qualifications from a lead passed on to them from marketing, while the marketer’s understanding and qualifications may be different.
This misalignment can lead to missed opportunities, keeping companies from turning prospects into customers. When a company doesn’t have a clear understanding of how leads are defined in each stage of the funnel and how the handoff process works, qualified leads can slip through the cracks.
3. Develop a Service-Level Agreement (SLA)
In Hubspot’s 2016 State of Inbound report cited earlier, 74% of respondents said converting leads in to customers was one of their top marketing priorities over the next 12 months. A comprehensive SLA supports this conversion.
SLAs can be an important tool to establish clear and direct channels of communication between marketing and sales. When there is a path or blueprint provided, there is less room for error or miscommunication. SLAs often include information such as ideal client profile, lead definitions, goals, and how to track or measure progress.
SLAs are a great tool for smoothing the handoff from marketing to sales. For example, processes are set up to determine an expected follow up timeline for MQL’s that have been passed on to sales.
A SLA can also help with closed-loop reporting. While marketers have information about what prospects have reacted to, such as clicking on an email, filling out a form, or frequent interest in the website, sales has the opportunity to acquire even more information about prospects in their one-to-one conversations.
Through these more personalized interactions, sales can be tasked to gather critical campaign details and inform marketers about what worked best from a customer-acquisition standpoint, or even provide little bits of information that might be unknown to the marketer such as a blog post being mentioned in a webinar on a different website. This additional insight is powerful, as it will help marketing better refine campaigns to boost success.
Organizations with a SLA are over five times as likely to be effective, yet only 22% of respondents have formal service-level agreements between sales and marketing. Support your marketing and sales teams, as well as new business growth, with a SLA.
From Contenders to Collaborators
Leading a prospect through a buying process requires great collaboration. It would be remiss to say that either marketing or sales are more important than the other because they must complement each other to have success.
It is not only the job of marketers to pull in the desired prospects, but also the job of sales to help marketers understand their customer base and which leads have successfully turned into clients in past interactions.
Marketers inspire interest, while sales representatives create engaged customers. B2B marketing and sales teams working together does not change the innate differences in their jobs, but rather establishes a more efficient and united task force within the company.