Countdown to Improving in 2013: Day 3 - Sales & Marketing Alignment

by Desiree Baughman on December 29, 2012

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sales & marketing alignmentThe following is part of our six-part series counting down to the new year. We've included six ways to see improved results in 2013.


No one likes bickering, nit-picking co-workers, so why are the sales team and marketing team often at each other’s throats?  Hopefully at this point you're helping put a stop to the fire that's been brewing between the two and showing them exactly how beneficial it is for them to work together.  If you’re still struggling, then definitely read through our free eBook “The Expert Guide To Aligning Sales & Marketing” and consider these stats:



  • According to the Aberdeen group, organizations who had a good – not seamless, but good – alignment between the sales and marketing teams saw a 20% annual revenue growth in 2010 (Aberdeen Group, 2010).

  • In contrast, those with a poor alignment saw a decrease of 4% in revenue (Aberdeen Group, 2010)


To help get these two teams on a more unified front, let's start with the most important part of it all: what it takes to qualify a lead.


How Can A Lead Be Qualified?


The first step to getting these two teams on board with one another is to have them agree upon a definition for what makes up a “Marketing Qualified Lead”, or an MQL.  This definition should include a variety of different actions and traits that will indicate to marketing that a lead is ready to move on and speak to someone in sales.  We recommend our clients look at two things:



  1. Fit

  2. Interest


Fit


Taking this potential lead's demographic information into account, see how well it aligns with your own organizational goals.  For example, if you're selling high-end furniture, then a lead who has been defined as an economic buyer is not likely someone who you'd qualify through to the sales team.  You want the fit to be as close to your ideal buyer persona before sending them to sales.


Interest


All because someone visited your “products' page once doesn't indicate a strong interest.  You'll want to monitor how much they're engaging with you company.  For instance, a lead who has just begun to follow you on Twitter probably isn't that interested in you yet. A lead who has taken the time to watch a demo video or request a free consultation, however, is showing a whole lot more interest.


Lead Scoring


Lead scoring is another effective strategy that can really help your marketing team qualify leads appropriately.  HubSpot offers lead scoring software that looks at a number of different aspects, such as:



  • Patterns of behavior and behavioral history

  • Activities the lead has taken before becoming a customer

  • Average close rates


Increasing Your Number Of Qualified Leads with Sales & Marketing Alignment


As we mentioned, getting someone to watch a demo or download an offer increases how “qualifiable” they are.    So if you want to increase your number of qualified leads, you'll want to create offers and produce content that speaks to those leads.  This means producing quality content that your leads find interesting, useful and entertaining.  This means effectively segmenting your leads so that you can present them with offers that they'll actually want to take you up on.


This means having the right software in place to help you seamlessly implement these tactics. HubSpot's “Workflows” tool in the new Hubspot 3, as we talked about in yesterday's post, will help you turn a lead into a qualified lead.  This software will track their behaviors both on you site and elsewhere, and send messages and offers to them based on those behaviors.  This will drastically improve lead engagement and your conversions.


What you'll want to consider are the different stages of the sales funnel and then look at the metrics behind each stage of the sales funnel so that you can learn how to optimize those stages.  Look for things such as:



  • Visitor to lead conversion rates

  • Lead to MQL conversion rates

  • Lead work rates

  • % of sales accepted leads

  • Sales cycle length

  • Average cost per sale


Don't Waste The Sales Team's Time


The reason why there's often such a rift between the marketing and sales teams is that the sales team thinks that marketing is just wasting their time by providing poorly groomed or premature leads who just aren't ready to buy.  It's up to you, the manager or business owner, to ensure that the sales team only spends time with the leads who are qualified.


This means ensuring that both teams agree on the definition of the organization's MQL, that sales leaves the lead nurturing process to the marketing team up to the point that they reach that MQL, and that marketing doesn't pass any other leads through until they've met the appropriate criteria.

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