One of the biggest topics of our meetings with new and potential customers is (unsurprisingly) lead generation.
Sadly, there’s no silver bullet for generating more high-quality leads.
There's also no ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy which can just be put into place and - as if by magic - bring more warm leads into the business each month.
If either existed, I'd be retired, in Barbados, with my feet up and a beer in hand.
Instead, I’m in sunny Birmingham with a cold coffee, writing this article!
With that said about silver bullets not existing, there is one thing we always instil in every single business we work with which does drive more leads into the pipeline, every single month, and that’s sales and marketing alignment.
What on earth is sales and marketing alignment?
I know, I know: ‘Sales and marketing alignment’ sounds like another one of those wanky buzzwords people like to band about in meetings to make themselves sound like they know what they’re talking about and are down with the kids.
Sales and marketing alignment is nothing new though; it’s just a new way of phrasing an old problem.
For a long, long time now, there’s been a fair amount of friction between sales and marketing in most businesses all over the world.
Sales still think marketing just play with crayons all day and marketing still think sales have an easy job that anyone could do.
The fact of the matter is that the two can't succeed without one another's cooperation - not to their full potential, anyway.
In his inauguration speech as president of the United States, JFK told the American people: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country".
In exactly the same vein, salespeople should be asking themselves how they can help marketing and marketing how they can help sales.
After all, it's all in your best interests to do so.
Besides a referral, the warmest leads a salesperson will ever get are marketing qualified leads (or MQLs for short - more on that here).
And marketers: without the insights of your sales team - the people who are getting their hands dirty at the coal face every single day - your work will never be as effective as it could be.
So, salespeople, what can you do to help marketing generate more leads for you?
Marketeers, what can you do to help the sales department's success rate?
Here are a few ideas to make sure your sales and marketing departments get the best out of each other.
1. Set clear benchmarks
First of all, its key that everyone understands what the perfect opportunity/customer looks like.
Marketers might get excited when someone downloads the new ebook they’ve been working on, but if that person isn’t a good fit, what’s the point?
The thing is, your ideal customer should be thoroughly identified well before the content has even been written.
This means that at the heart of everything the marketing team does, there’s a focus on helping the sales team to push would-be buyers through the funnel.
It’s also important for marketing to take responsibility and understand the sales team’s targets and objectives (as well as short and long-term goals) and equating that into a number of leads that need to be generated and closed monthly, quarterly etc.
Sharing the burden - even just slightly - will help to bring the two teams together, understand each others pain points and allow for some sense of unity between the two; clear, measurable benchmarks are the starting point for that.
2. Agree the top level strategy
Once you’ve worked out your benchmarks, you need to talk about the top level strategy. That should be focused on the biggest pain points in the sales department and how marketing can help to resolve these.
Look at how your target audience can be segmented and which segments are higher priority that others.
Also, what are the main problems the teams are facing at the moment? If marketing are struggling for content ideas, speak to the sales team about the problems clients are facing. If sales are struggling to close deals, maybe some materials such as case studies are needed to aide that process.
For every sticking point is a solution, but generally speaking, that solution is a combination of efforts between both sets of professionals. Building your overall strategy to focus on these challenges will massively help everyone to achieve in their roles.
3. Set regular meetings
Based on the above, there needs to be regular meetings between the key players in each department to make sure the strategy is being actioned and, more importantly, is working.
Sales need to give first-hand feedback on their pipeline and the conversations they’re having with clients to help marketing adapt to any changes happening in the market.
On the other hand, marketing need to update sales on the effectiveness of their campaigns: ”Prospect has opened X emails, read articles on X topics etc”.
This information should be passed to sales on a regular basis. HubSpot (a sales & marketing software suite) uses a scoring system to rate leads based on activity. Whether you use HubSpot or not, setting up a similar scoring system for your prospects is a great way to decide when your salespeople need to call.
More to the point, that same information should be used to fuel the conversation sales have with the prospect and make the call much warmer than it would have been.
- We see marketing as a service and it exists (in part) to generate new leads and help to increase the sales team’s close rate
- Traditionally, sales are there to sell. But the business world has changed and as marketing has become more sales oriented, the sales team now need to contribute to marketing activities
- The more sales & marketing work together, the more effective both will be. Individuals in both teams will develop much faster, too, as they learn to understand completely new areas of the business.
Want to learn more about aligning sales and marketing to get more leads? This is a great starting point.