When your car’s wheels in are alignment — with the angles set to the manufacturers’ specifications — it drives more easily, gets better gas mileage, and reduces wear and tear on the tires.
When your sales and marketing teams are in alignment — each with clear objectives and duties, and with a shared understanding of key definitions and processes, aka “manufacturer’s specifications” — leads flow more smoothly, the sales cycle is more efficient, and there is less stress within your workforce.
In fact, a study by the Aberdeen Group shows that organizations with good alignment between sales and marketing achieved 20 percent annual revenue growth in 2010, compared to a 4 percent revenue decline for companies with poor alignment. (Click to Tweet!)
Having a shared understanding of key terms and processes is vital to bringing sales and marketing teams into alignment. Here are the terms and processes your sales and marketing teams need to agree on.
Sales funnel stages, especially qualified leads
Stages in the sales funnel can be defined in a number of ways. Leads may be classified simply as cool, warm and hot.
The funnel could include visitors, leads, marketing qualified leads, sales accepted leads, opportunities and customers (this is how HubSpot describes them our partnership ebook), or you could outline your funnel as we have: strangers, visitors, leads, customers and promoters.
One of the most important definitions your company will need to agree on is what constitutes a qualified lead. These are the leads who are ready to be handed off from the marketing department’s lead nurturing program to sales. (Click to Tweet!)
Every company will have a slightly different definition, but it should reflect the traits and actions that indicate a lead is both a good fit for your company and ready to talk with sales.
Characteristics of a good fit:
Lead matches your target customer (could be large financial institutions, or healthcare companies with fewer than 100 employees, or retail companies with 50 or more locations, etc.)
Lead has the ability and authority to purchase. It may not make sense to send a lead to sales if the individual is only an end user for your product, without any say in the purchasing decision.
Characteristics of an interested lead:
Lead has engaged with your website in ways that indicate interest, such as requesting a demonstration or viewing pricing information.
Using the criteria you outline for your company for a good fit and sufficient interest, determine the specific parameters that indicate a lead should be passed on to the sales department. This gives marketing a target to reach for in nurturing leads, while ensuring that the sales department knows what to expect on a consistent basis.
Use your closed-loop marketing to develop data-based triggers, rather than simply going on gut instinct. These could include number of page views, number of conversions, patterns of interaction that typically lead to closing a sale, or other observations from past history.
And when the time comes for marketing to shift a lead over to the sales department, be sure that complete lead information goes with them to improve closure rates.
When everyone in the organization is moving in the same direction, you reach the destination — a closed sale — more quickly with less effort. That is what sales-marketing alignment is all about. Find more about using closed-loop marketing and a service level agreement in The Complete Guide to Unifying Marketing and Sales. Click here to download your ebook.