New Year’s Resolution: Get Your Sales & Marketing Teams Together

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We are hearing a lot about the importance of Sales and Marketing alignment lately. Most have probably read this statistic from The Aberdeen Group:

Highly-aligned organizations achieve an average of 32% year-over-year revenue growth – while their less aligned competitors saw a 7% decrease in revenue.

That’s a pretty powerful statistic, and it begs the question: how do I align marketing and sales? First, it’s important to look at what the functions of marketing and sales are individually, and what their driving motivations and perspectives are when it comes to buyers. Second, it’s important to understand how Marketing and Sales can, and should, work together and help each other create a seamless buying experience.

The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

Let’s look at the function of marketing.

  • Marketing is passive by nature
  • Marketing seeks to make prospects aware
  • Marketing wants the prospect to reach out
  • Marketing is content reaching people
  • Marketing creates leads

Let’s compare that to the function of sales.

  • Sales is active by nature
  • Sales seeks to make connections with prospects
  • Sales wants to reach out to the prospect
  • Sales is people reaching people
  • Sales closes leads

Let’s finish this comparison with the following statements.

  1. The lead that is the easiest for marketing to generate is rarely the lead that is the easiest for sales to close
  2. The lead that is the easiest for sales to close is rarely the lead that is the easiest for marketing to generate

What does that mean? Marketing can easily churn out content, create ads, and find the cheapest sources to generate leads, but that doesn’t mean that all those leads are actually sales-ready leads. If not properly defined and managed sales and marketing functions can be motivated by opposing forces: marketing wants to create the greatest number of leads at the least cost, and sales wants to close the greatest number of deals with the least amount of effort. How often do you hear sales say, “if marketing could just generate more quality leads…” And how many times have you heard marketing say, “if sales would just properly work the leads they get…”

Marketers have a tendency of being primarily concerned with the ROI on each campaign. They are measuring the cost to generate a lead, the number of leads needed to create a deal conversion, and the revenue generated from each converted deal. This is obviously a simplified view – many other things can be factored into the mix – but we will stick with the basics for the purpose of illustration. What many marketers fail to consider is that the salesperson’s time and mental engagement with the leads that are being provided will affect a campaign’s ROI quite a bit. If marketing sends sales leads that they consider of low quality leads, sales might be reluctant to follow up thoroughly or even call at all. If marketing sends over more leads than sales can effectively handle, then sales will naturally judge which leads they think are most important, and not follow up with the others. Studies show that 36% of leads that marketing generates are never contacted by sales. No matter what the reason, that’s a huge waste of company resources.

The Age of Automation in Sales & Marketing

Why talk about this again now? We are moving into the age of automation and the latest obsession is marketing automation. Plenty of companies are diving head first into the shiniest product without fully understanding what its actual purpose and function is, and what they can really accomplish with it. Don’t get me wrong: I think that marketing automation can be fantastic and is here to stay. For many companies, however, it will be the “As Seen on TV” situation. It’s just the latest fad that we misperceive as the fix-all answer for our desperate desire to succeed, instantly. Yet research shows that many marketing automation investments fail. The reason is two fold; 1) Marketing automation is not a miraculous solution. It does not create marketing strategies; it is designed to make your existing marketing strategies more efficient and effective. 2) Marketing automation does not make sales, and it certainly won’t replace the need for sales people. This means that if it’s broke, automation won’t fix it. Marketing automation will take your current marketing efforts and strategy and make that process more efficient. So if your current marketing efforts and strategies are ineffective, marketing automation will give you a lot more of the same. Marketing automation works best for those that currently have a well thought out, well executed marketing strategy and they are looking to take it to the next level.

Now let’s address the sales side. A salesperson’s time and talent is a limited commodity. The current average number of calls a salesperson makes is 8 per hour. So, before you think about a marketing automation solution that will help to generate a higher quantity of leads (good quality or not), you need to think about your sales team’s capacity to work those extra leads efficiently and effectively. This is where a sales automation system comes into the picture. A queue-based sales automation system has been shown to increase a sales rep’s productivity to an average of 32 calls per hour, a 400% increase. Queue-based automation also allows for an automated workflow where management dictates the value of leads throughout the sales cycle and automatically routes the next-best lead to the sales rep at the appropriate time. This helps solve the issue highlighted previously about sales not following up on leads. So, not only can your salespeople work harder, but they can work smarter as well.

Where is all this leading?

Sales teams and marketing departments should work toward the same revenue goal. However, they can have different objectives:

  • Marketing departments sometimes see their main objective, mistakenly, as driving the greatest number of leads at the cheapest cost. Marketing needs to be quality content focused. Whether through ads, blogs, social posts, or educational pieces (white papers, etc.), the content needs to create awareness, build trust and credibility, and needs to support sales throughout the sales process.
  • Sales teams often see their main objective as closing the greatest amount of sales with the least amount of effort. This is not a bad objective but it can lead to many missed opportunities as each salesperson makes their individual judgment as to the worthiness of a lead. The only way marketing can make smart adjustments to each campaign is through the equal engagement of sales on every lead.

In the rush to achieve their objectives, Sales & Marketing leaders opt for automation solutions to move efforts along more quickly. It’s important, though, to take a step back and examine those objectives to ensure they are aligned to revenue goals. Only after the examination and creation of a strong strategy can leaders make the right decisions on the combination of sales & marketing automation solutions for their businesses. You do not just want to end up going more quickly in the wrong direction.

For a deeper look at what marketing and sales alignment looks like and how marketing automation and sales automation work in tandem to create better leads and more intentional and insightful sales interactions, download our latest white paper, Sales & Marketing Alignment: Bringing the Pieces Together. Also, for more information on the benefits of a queue-based sales automation system, download our white paper, 4 Ways Queue-based Lead Management is Shaping the Inside Sales Industry