Your marketing engine is active with a full calendar of campaigns. Sales is busy with 10 appointments per week. So why aren't new leads moving quicker through your marketing pipeline? How come sales keeps saying that leads handed over by marketing aren't sufficiently qualified? According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound report, when marketers were asked where they got their best leads, the majority said inbound-sourced leads were the highest quality. However, salespeople who participated in HubSpot’s study rated marketing-generated leads last, behind self-sourced leads and referrals. There is definitely a perception gap here!
So how can you fix the disconnect and improve alignment between sales and marketing? When working with our clients, we recommend the following four steps for aligning marketing and sales for demand generation:
1. Co-create buyer personas for your top 5 target customer segments
A buyer persona is marketing's version of an avatar for your target customer. If your marketing team has already created buyer personas, then you simply need to revalidate the persona and update with current feedback from sales (who typically own the relationship and have great insights on their customer behaviors). If your personas haven't been updated in 12 months or more - or if sales weren't involved in the original exercise to create them - spend a few hours with your marking and sales leaders to rethink your current personas. We have created a great template for building powerful personas – you can download this from here. With business markets transforming at light speed, you don't want to be missing a potentially lucrative market.
2. Help your sales teams blog like rockstars!
Who doesn't like to see their name in bright lights? Chances are your sales people have great stories from the sales battlefield, interesting insights about the market and tales of successful projects. Have your best marketing writer spend a few hours each month collecting stories from the field, invite sales to author or co-author a blog written by marketing and ask them to share it across their network. You will instantly reach new contacts with fresh material, increase your online authority by having posts from a wider pool of contributors and build long-term bridges between your sales and marketing champions.
3. Build 3-4 email templates with creative input from both marketing and sales.
In one-on-one communication with their customers, smart sales people invest the time to make their messages personal and relevant to the reader. However, not all of us are born Shakespeares, and sometimes sales gets stuck when writing - then editing - and then rewriting emails. Multiply this by 50 customers and you are spending ALOT of precious time trying to be clear with your communications. With help from your creative marketing writers, draft 3-4 email templates with appealing graphics and content for a few different customer scenarios. Sales can personalize the text to fit the situation. Integrate the templates with your Outlook or Gmail accounts, link email to your CRM and voila - guaranteed hours saved!
4. Agree on an SLA (finally!) between sales and marketing - and manage to it!
The HubSpot research found that only 23% of solution and service providers have an SLA in place. If you are part of the other 77%, it's finally time to agree on an SLA which manages the lead handover process from marketing to sales (MQLs to SQLs). Or if you already have one, bring it out again, review its effectiveness and revise your metrics accordingly. Chances are there are areas which need a tweak or update. Look at typical metrics such as days outstanding (the number of days or hours in which a lead needs to be contacted by sales. Lead scoring using marketing platforms like HubSpot and Autopilot helps take the guesswork out of the process. And try to remove the emotions: it's not about marketing not doing their job or sales being unable to move an opportunity forward. It's all about finding a better way to make the buying journey easier for your prospect and to help them discover why your solutions are awesome - which is a win-win for everyone!
Would you like to learn more? Download the below eBook.