Marketers are From Mars, Sales Reps are From…

Marketers are From Mars, Sales Reps are From…:from Business 2 Community 

I have been involved with corporate marketers and sales reps for more than 25 years. I don’t have to tell you that marketers and sales reps see the world from different perspectives. I’ve been in organizations where marketers believe that they are doing all the hard work—finding and passing good leads over to sales reps—only to have the sales reps not follow up on them. They believe that the sales reps only want leads on a “silver platter” (ready to sign a contract)—otherwise the sales reps are out on the golf course or wining and dining prospects wasting company money. I’ve been in companies where the sales reps believe all the leads that the marketers give them are garbage. The marketers are out spending company money on trade shows and advertising while the sales reps have to use their relationships and skills to find and qualify leads. I hate to admit this, but I have even worked at companies where the marketing and sales departments did not talk to each other. This is absurd. Even if your company is in one of these situations and is continuing to grow, I guarantee your company’s revenues will be growing faster or bigger with better sales and marketing alignment.
If you truly want your revenue to grow, you must stop thinking that marketing owns a lead funnel and that sales owns a sales pipeline. Your sales and marketing teams need to step back and see that your independent funnels or pipelines are really part of one overall “revenue cycle.” Both sales and marketing need to be interested in all stages of this revenue cycle. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through the use of marketing automation. Let me show you how in four practical scenarios:
  1. Defining revenue cycle stages—Through the definition of revenue cycle stages, sales and marketing can make sure that only the “ideal leads” get to sales. Marketing must work with sales to get agreement on what the criteria is for that ideal lead. It may have several definitions and criteria. An ideal lead could be one that wants to see a product demo. It could also be one that fills out a “contact us” web form and wants pricing information. Once that ideal lead or Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is defined, then marketing and sales can start setting up the rest of the revenue cycle stages. A marketing automation platform will do the “heavy lifting” by routing the leads through the different stages based on implicit and explicit lead scoring. By working together, marketers can start seeing how many leads can be sent quickly to sales and how many leads need to be nurtured more by marketing first. Sales should start raising expectations as it starts seeing better quality and consistency out of the MQLs. If marketing tries to set up the front end of the revenue cycle without sales, it will never get buy in. If sales tries to run the back end of the revenue cycle without marketing, it will never stop complaining about the quality or quantity of leads. The two sides are working against each other and no efficiencies are achieved. Since it is usually the marketing department that is building out the front end of the revenue cycle and implementing the marketing automation platform, it usually falls on marketing to reach out to sales to begin the revenue cycle stage definition discussions.
  2. Finetuning your lead scoring—Once you set up your lead scoring and revenue cycle stages, you will want to let the lead routing process run for a couple of months. After that you will want to sit down with sales management and review the process. Often you will have to adjust the scoring based on lead flow and quality. Sometimes when marketing sits down with sales they will hear that the quality of the MQLs is fine but sales needs more leads. You can either implement more lead generation programs or you can work with sales to lower the scoring threshold to become an MQL. Other times sales will let you know that they are getting a lot of MQLs but the quality is not where they want it to be. Then you can increase the scoring required to become an MQL as long as you let sales know that they may be getting less MQLs once the change is made. The key to success is to set and manage expectations.
  3. Reviewing revenue stage activity—Once your revenue cycle, lead scoring, and marketing automation has been up and running long enough so that you can see data for a complete sales cycle, you will want to sit down with sales and review the volume, velocity, and conversion of the leads at each of the revenue stages. So if your average sales cycle is nine months, you may want to wait at least a year before you start reviewing revenue stage activity with sales. When that time comes, you do want to look carefully at the volume of leads at each stage, how long it is taking for leads to convert from one stage to the next, and the percentage of leads that are converting. If sales projections are looking weak for the next quarter, you may want to look at your Middle Of the FUnnel (MOFU) activities. These are the activities that occur at the prospect, lead, and sales lead stages. Some of these leads may have become inactive. You have already made a large investment to acquire these leads and sometimes running some automated lead nurturing campaigns targeted at these leads will get them reengaged. Improving your conversion rate by 10% from the prospect to lead stage may mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue opportunities for your organization. Staying in touch with sales will help you determine when to review revenue stage activity and improve MOFU conversion rates.
  4. Measuring performance—One of the great benefits of a good marketing automation platform is the ability to look at metrics and reporting easily. Marketing has worked hard and spent a lot of money at the front end of the revenue cycle and sales has worked hard and spent a lot of money at the back end of the revenue cycle. Has it paid off? With the reporting that a marketing automation platform can provide, marketing, sales, and executive management can sit down regularly and review performance. Adjustments to programs can be made at any time. For example, your organization could decide mid-year to go after vertical markets such as healthcare and financial services. You can put together vertical marketing collateral and webinars and then build out lead generation and lead nurturing campaigns. Segmenting audiences by title and industry can be done quickly in your marketing automation platform. Once you get comfortable with your reporting and can start seeing consistent trends, you will be able to begin to forecast future revenue to your executive team. Sales can project short-term revenue with CRM platform data but marketers can forecast long-term revenue with marketing automation platform data. By combining the revenue projections of both sales and marketing together, executive management will be in a better position to manage the future growth of the company in terms of headcount, budgets, revenue, and more.
Marketers and sales reps may come from different planets but that does not mean that both groups cannot speak the same language. When a company has strong sales and marketing alignment, you will see both groups talking about “opportunities” and “revenue” instead of “leads” and “costs.” I’ve seen marketing departments change the way their staffs incentivized as well. Marketers earn bonuses based on the number of sales opportunities they influenced instead of how many tasks they completed on their quarter MBO list. For many companies with this level of sales and marketing alignment their revenue and revenue potential is out of this world.

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