Published on August 8th, 2017
Alignment between marketing and sales is crucial.
Ideally, you want the hand-off between marketing and sales to be as smooth as two NBA players scoring the game-winning basket and that begins with sales enablement.
One of the biggest benefits of inbound marketing is the high-quality leads it produces.
It allows you to target specific buyer personas in mass quantities, nurture a relationship, assist through the buying process, and ultimately, get them ready to make a purchase.
By the time your sales reps speak with a qualified lead, the majority of the process and deliberation should already be completed, but it takes a while to get to this perfect scenario.
It all starts with getting your marketing and sales team on the same page and creating a culture of sales enablement throughout your organization.
To accomplish this, there are a number of questions that your marketing team should ask sales to ensure they're doing everything they can to attract and qualify the best leads. Below, I've shared five of the most critical.
1. What does the sales process look like?
I'm sure you already have a general idea of the sales process at your company, but you probably don't know a lot of the specifics. Have a sales rep walk you through the top three most common scenarios step-by-step.
How does the conversation begin? How long does the process take? Does the rep do a presentation and when does that happen?
Look for any insights that you as a marketer can use to better prepare prospects before they speak with a sales rep by creating content or other marketing materials.
2. What qualities make a lead sales-qualified?
Generating leads with inbound is easy -- the challenge is generating a lot of sales-qualified leads.
This is a question that you'll want to re-visit with your sales team quarterly, or at least annually. You'll use this information to adjust the way you score leads and improve your lead nurturing process.
Without an effective lead nurturing strategy, it's extremely difficult to consistently generate sales-qualified leads in a predictable manner.
There will always be the sales-qualified leads that discover your content and reach out to you on their own, but the majority of leads will be marketing-qualified and require nurturing to become sales-qualified.
3. Are leads' expectations too high or low about what they're getting?
This is an area that's notorious for causing friction between marketing and sales.
As marketers, we're very optimistic about the product or service that we're promoting. You could say it's our job.
If you genuinely believe in what you're marketing, you have a right to be optimistic, but you still have to set realistic expectations. When you exaggerate or give false hope, you're setting prospects up for a big let down.
Disappointment is a difficult challenge for sales reps to overcome. Often the lead will feel betrayed and refuse to do business with you out of resentment, even if your product is a good value.
Remember, all purchases, even B2B purchases, are an emotional decision. Your job as a marketer is to persuade a lead's emotions, not manipulate them.
However, you also don't want to set expectations too low or you'll fail to generate as many leads as you could. You still have to give people reasons to be interested.
Marketing and sales teams need to agree on the right balance. You want to set expectations as high as you can, while still keeping them realistic.
4. What are the most common objections leads have?
In the ideal inbound marketing-to-sales scenario, all of the major objectives of a lead have been addressed before they speak with sales.
At that point, they're just looking to go over the details and make sure the fit is right.
Questions, concerns, and objections are all excellent topics for blog posts and lead nurturing emails.
The average B2B customer prefers to do their own research before speaking with a sales rep and the easier you make that process for them, the more favorable your company is to them.
If your competitors are using this tactic, you're at a disadvantage by not doing it because prospects will have the perception that there will be more interaction required with sales reps.
There will be some leads that don't see this content and still raise the same objections, but now your sales reps will have resources they can quickly share with leads if need be.
5. What do leads say about the competition?
You should never copy the competition (without doing your research first).
Effective brand positioning requires you to set yourself apart from the competition. You don't want to do everything they're doing -- it makes you look unoriginal and it's likely that not everything they do will work well for you.
However, if a significant amount of leads bring up something specific that the competition's marketing team does, it's worth taking a look at.
For example, let's say you're a SaaS brand and several of your top competitors have created a series of videos that detail the most important features of their software and how to use them. Your brand only has blog posts with screenshots. When your sales reps are presenting the software to leads, they often comment that they wish you had videos they could've watched.
That's a clear sign that you're competition is doing something that's working and is probably causing you to lose sales.
That was an obvious example that marketing could figure out on their own, but your sales team likely has insights into the competition that you haven't discovered because they're getting those insights directly from sales-qualified leads.