Sales and marketing are two very different worlds—or are they? While unique in their work styles, these two essential business functions share the same goals: closing leads and making sales.
Marketers know how to present their products and get in front of their target audience, and salespeople know how to sell the products to the audience. But are these really two separate steps in the overall sales process?
Having a solid grasp of the customers' preferences and needs is crucial to making the sale. After all, the best salespeople don’t sell products - they sell solutions. By marketing and sales working together, team members can tap into the important elements of each department, and enhance their own (and each other’s) strategy going forward.
While some companies turn to a sales development rep to bridge the gap between the two teams and nurture leads into customers, the real secret lies in streamlining the system. By engaging in “smarketing” techniques (sales and marketing), you can develop stronger leads and closes, and cut out the middleman in the process.
marketing and sales working together
Driving results is not a solo endeavor. In any company, it’s easy to get lost in the different departments and their different goals. But if you want to take your sales to the next level, it's imperative to make sure that your sales and marketing goals align. Despite their different tactics in converting customers, both departments should be operating as a single unit.
For sales managers, discussing sales goals with the marketing department will ensure that everyone’s on the same page. Likewise, the better the sales team understands the processes, motivations, and goals of the marketing team, the more targeted and effective each team will be.
Key benefits of Smarketing
Position company for growth
Smarketing drives more conversions, positioning your company more effectively for ongoing growth. How? Marketing and sales are equally responsible for generating and closing leads, so alignment is key. Clear communication is a good prognosticator of growth and success, and communication between departments provides insights and data that can improve outgoing messages and the quality of incoming leads.
More consistent and better leads
Sometimes the marketing team falls into the rut of sending leads to the sales team that aren’t adequately prepped, or that the sales team isn’t prepared for. By working together, both teams can share insights and feedback, and they can generate more solid leads that will actually convert. After all, despite their different methods, both departments are after the same thing—sales.
Gaining insight into inbound marketing processes can help reps feel more confident about connecting with sales-ready leads faster—thus enhancing conversions. When a lead takes the initiative to get in touch, sales teams who respond within 5 minutes are 21 times more likely to close the sale than if they had waited 30 minutes.
lifecycle stages of the common customer
Sales reps often focus on a single aspect of the sales process—the close—and when it doesn't pan out the way they'd like it to, they're left wondering what they could have done differently. But it’s not always a sales issue. Since marketing leads eventually transition into sales-ready leads, sometimes the problem lies in the funnel itself, and your team's understanding of their target audience’s place within it. With marketing and sales working together, the departments can study a bigger picture of the buyer's journey to understand where their prospects are in the process, and how they can best close their sales.
Segmenting audiences into lifecycle stages ( subscribers, leads, marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, opportunities, customers, and evangelists) helps to not only keep track of them on their journey, but also to send them the right messages at the right time, and provide them with valuable and targeted content.
But how do you know when your marketing leads are ready to transition to sales leads (and then to customers)? When aligning sales and marketing strategies, it’s important to define what makes a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and a sales qualified lead (SQL). Essentially, you can think of them like this:
An MQL is a prospect that has shown some interest in your products or services. They may have downloaded content from your site, sent an inquiry, or engaged via social media. They have questions and they're seeking solutions—and wondering if your company can provide them.
An SQL has made the transition from marketing to sales, after being nurtured through the funnel, and led to believe that your company has the solution they seek. While MQLs are often abundant, they phase out as they go through the funnel, with only a fraction of them ever becoming sales qualified.
With shared leads and a shared bottom line, it’s a wonder many sales and marketing departments think they should still run independently of one another. As a result, marketers often pass unqualified leads over to sales at astounding rates. In fact, only a small fraction of leads are actually ready to buy when the sales rep takes over, making the close a whole lot harder. By bridging the communication gap to align sales and marketing strategies, department directors can help create a more fruitful environment that breeds better leads.
Content marketing for the win
Content marketing is an inbound marketing tactic that attracts targeted leads by connecting with them through information, education, or entertainment. Targeting specific keywords in your content will ensure that it makes it to your audience's digital screens. But when creating content, it’s important to know exactly who your audience is so you develop content accordingly.
Teams can define and understand their target customers by creating marketing personas to capture their overall essence. It’s impossible to know the ins and outs of every individual customer, but by categorizing them and understanding their conglomerate interests, what they value, what they dislike, and what their pain points are, you can tailor your marketing and sales approach for success. As you get to know your customer personas, you’ll be more intentional in developing content that actually attracts them into the funnel.
The transitory nature of content
Your marketing team can use content to transition leads from MQLs to SQLs. By knowing the type of content that brought their SQLs through the funnel, the sales team will then be better prepared to engage in conversations that connect with their audience. By aligning sales and marketing strategies, sales can tap into similar content, language, and tone to provide the solutions the SQLs need, in a manner consistent with prior interactions and experiences with your brand and company culture.
Giving voice to better leads
Connecting your teams and opening the door of communication provides better leads as the two departments come to understand the approaches and needs of the other. Instead of working as two separate entities struggling to make their sales goals, they can merge forces to ensure a seamless transition of their leads from one stage to the next.
Benefits of an integrated CRM
Sales and marketing alignment is ultimately about managing the customer relationship consistently. To do this effectively, companies need a good customer relationship management (CRM) system that meets their specific needs—essentially keeping both teams on the same page by tracking their leads through transitions and the funnel.
By implementing a CRM to track customer relationships, the marketing team can keep track of how far their transitioned SQLs went in the process, and connect with sales accordingly to refine the approach. For example, how many leads closed? Or if they didn't close, where did they drop off? Tapping into lead trends enables marketing teams to rethink the nurturing phases, and prep future leads for the close.
Likewise, the sales team can see MQL leads as they funnel towards them, and become familiar with every point of contact that has already been made. Knowing if a customer is open to a conversation is crucial to beginning the closing process. No one will shut you down—and disappear—faster than a lead who’s not ready to have that sales chat.
The benefits of marketing and sales working together are clear and plentiful. Your department’s bottom line is to help your company succeed by funneling customers to a successful close. By aligning sales and marketing strategies, you can ensure that your department - and company - is set up for success, every step of the way.