Smarketing: Marketing and Sales Alignment is Critical

Now that you’ve become an expert in TOFU and MOFU marketing, the leads are rolling in. However, if you don’t have a strong sense of alignment between your marketing and sales teams, those leads could be dropping through the cracks.

The traditional relationship between marketing and sales in most organizations has been marked by rivalry. It’s nothing new- in fact, it’s a common complaint that sales reps are never happy with the leads that marketing feeds them and marketing is always complaining that the sales reps don’t close the deal. Marketing and sales departments are often at odds in an organization, engaging in finger pointing and playing the blame game.

Ramping up your lead generation efforts alone is not going to solve this and may make it worse. The last thing you want to do is increase the number of leads you’re handing to sales but not ensure quality or inundate them with leads that are still early in the process and a waste of their valuable time.

In order to achieve high growth, it is critical that marketing and sales align around the common goal of revenue growth. There are several steps that both marketing and sales teams can take together in order to generate both higher quality leads and higher lead-to-customer conversion rates. Rather than act as rivals, it is critical for sales and marketing to work together synergistically to improve processes and results. The new industry buzzword to describes this arrangement is smarketing.

It will be much easier to toss aside preconceived notions and prejudices once your sales and marketing teams have worked through issues such as:

  • What is the definition of a lead is
  • What stages does a lead go through
  • What weights will be given to various behaviors and criteria to score the lead

Marketing will finally have the opportunity to prove that it is a profit center, not a cost center. We have the technology to track the revenue generated by any lead and it is to your advantage to know where your leads are coming from and how much those leads bring in revenue. That same technology provides actionable intelligence to both sales and marketing in order to increase effectiveness at generating higher quality leads and help the sales team close the sale.

There is a “new normal” when it comes to sales and marketing today. You’ll often hear people (myself included) saying that inbound marketing shortens the sales cycle. Yes, it does shorten the sales cycle, but the marketing cycle is now longer. Today’s buyer is out researching a solution to their problem online, talking to friends, family and colleagues, and may have made a decision long before your sales rep ever knocks on the door or picks up the phone. According to Gleanstar Research, 50% of leads are qualified, but not yet ready to buy. Buyers don’t want to talk to sales until they are ready. So, it’s now up to your marketing department to get the content out there to get found and to nurture that lead, walk the buyer through the buying process and then hand off qualified leads to sales.

For 2013, make sure you have a clearly defined lead definition and a lead process with a lead scoring and a defined hand-off process that is agreed upon and approved by both marketing and sales. Setting expectations and goals is the first critical step to achieving those goals.

Most companies are familiar with the “sales process” or opportunity process or lifecycle. Not as many are familiar with the “lead process.” According to Marketing Sherpa, 79% of B2B marketers have not established lead scoring. But with the move to inbound marketing, more leads will be coming in and at earlier and earlier stages in the process, making it more important than ever to have a lead process with clear definitions and stages that keep your marketing aligned.

When it comes to accelerating your company growth, the real magic happens when sales and marketing are in alignment. And that’s smarketing!