October 7, 2015 Rutika Salaskar

Sales and Marketing – How to Align Two Pillars of Business Growth

Sales & Marketing are two such functions of a business, which rely on each other for optimum output from their efforts. Setting common goals, defining target market, messaging, value proposition, choosing common channels, etc. are of paramount  importance for achieving and sustaining the most significant sales and marketing goal – revenue realization and customer retention. This needs alignment of aspirations as well as efforts of sales and marketing teams.

Firstly, the  most important aspect  is to discuss and agree upon common things. For instance what are the goals set and how can you measure those. Both sales and marketing need to work together to define numbers, and explanation for numbers, expectations, ways to achieve those expectations, etc.

How do you set up common grounds?

A combined strategy should be set up between two teams to identify their target market and buyer personas. After setting up your target market it’s vital to have proper segmentation of audience. Direct marketing, online marketing, email marketing, social media, etc are some of the common mediums for sales & marketing channels. It also depends on the marketing efforts and whether those efforts were of push or pull marketing. Proper strategy helps in decision making of overall communication and branding of products or services.

Not only setting up common grounds is important but also its execution of the ideas and plans is vital. It’s very essential to have a proper marketing plan in place, through which you can plan and execute your ideas. For instance, let’s assume you usually do event marketing and you need to set up a plan for successful  execution of an event. While setting up a plan you need to cater to several essential things like which tradeshow/conferences will you like to attend? What kind of participation will you opt in for will influence your branding and lead generation, etc. You need to consider what type of audience is ideal for you, do you need additional sponsorship to achieve your event participation objectives, etc.   All these things helps in collaboration of sales and marketing teams to achieve desired success jointly.

 What is qualified lead and when should marketing hand over it to sales?

Typical B2B sales cycle can be quite long and testing for sales & marketing folks; and having a clear consensus of the lead lifecycle management is one of the most pivotal links to Sales & Marketing alignment.

Framework of Lead management approach depends on how marketing defines a marketing qualified lead (MQL), what criteria does Sales takes into consideration to pursue (Sales Accepted Lead- SAL), then how it qualifies to be an opportunity will be Sales Qualified Lead – SQL, etc.

There has to consensus and proper process flows for handling the lead cycle (MQL to SQL – to Proposal Handling and closure). At what stage marketing’s job is over and sales should take over for a closure. Both teams inputs has be considered for finalizing a process so that there are list numbers of lead qualification mismatch and conflict of definition. In a ideal scenario 100& of MQL should go to the SAL – and this is possible only if process is aligned to both the teams aspirations

Your Marketing and Sales Technologies should talk to each other

The basic objective of Marketing’s Web properties (website, blogs, social media presence), Web marketing platforms (SEO, SEM/SMM), Analytic tools (Website Analytics, Social Media Analytics, etc.), Email tools, Marketing Automation (Web forms, Landing Pages, drip campaigns, etc.) is – acquiring leads/inquiries and gathering as much information as possible for , qualifying and pushing into sales System.So your Marketing technologies should be integrated to Sales systems – Salesforce Automation/CRM.

Where does your database fit in this alignment?

  • Once you make a proper discussion and achieve common grounds for all of above, next big question is ‘ where should you feed your data’? that is completely dependent on the framework you achieve above.
  • Based on the lead management framework you have – your Marketing and Sales teams’ needs to decide where your data resides. Where you keep your raw data, MQL, SQL, SAL, etc. How do you manage data once lead cycle is over (e.g. deal won/lost or dropped etc.)
  • But one thing goes beyond saying – all your integration and alignment efforts, lead management framework would work only if your database quality has high percentage of accuracy and relevancy!

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