The following is a guest post by Rachel Lefkowitz of EverString.
Sales and marketing alignment can make or break your business. These are the teams that are responsible for bringing in revenue. How do they work together? Marketing works to create relationships with leads over time, handing warm leads over to sales so they can close deals faster. Prospects are much more likely to have a positive response to the first touch from a sales rep if they have already had a positive experience with your brand.
Marketing and sales work together across the buyer journey and beyond with customer content and upsells. But sales and marketing teams aren’t always aligned. This can mean substantially less revenue and an inconsistent experience for your leads and customers. Don’t let this happen to you!
At EverString, we pride ourselves on sales and marketing alignment—it is a key outcome from our predictive marketing software and we live and die by it internally. Here are 6 best practices for sales and marketing alignment that have helped us ensure our teams are working well together.
6 Tips for Sales & Marketing Alignment
1. Get on the Same Page About Your Goals
Get in a room and come to an agreement on what determines a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and a sales qualified lead (SQL). This sounds basic, but sometimes this is the biggest rift between sales and marketing teams. If you have a predictive marketing tool, these definitions can be based less on guesswork and more on data, since you have more insight into what deals will convert. There is only one sales funnel, and marketing and sales are pushing leads through it with the same goal of converting those leads. Make sure the key stakeholders are on board with your definitions on what makes a good lead.
Our marketing team’s main goal is to add more leads to the top-of-the-funnel, and move them through the buyer’s journey to eventually achieve MQL status. Our sales team knows that MQL creation drives the inside sales team’s ability to drive SQLs—their main concern. That mutual respect and nailing that handoff will go a long way in getting (and keeping) your marketing and sales teams on track.
2. Use Lead Scoring, or Better yet, Account Scoring
Scoring is critical for your sales and marketing teams to understand who they should be targeting, how they should be targeting them, and when to pass a lead between teams.
Lead scoring measures engagement of a prospect with your brand—whether they open an email, visit your website, attend a webinar, etc. Each of these moments have a score that marketing and sales teams need to agree on.
Ideally, you should also be doing account-based scoring with a predictive marketing platform. Predictive scoring measures engagement with other brands and websites in addition to firmographic fit to determine which accounts are the best fit for your business. Just because an individual lead isn’t the right person to talk to, doesn’t mean the account isn’t the right company for your product or service. In the same vein, just because the lead you’re talking to has the ideal title or background to adopt your product, doesn’t mean the company has the right qualities to be your customer.
By employing lead scoring and account scoring, your sales and marketing teams can achieve far more together. And winning teams are aligned teams, and aligned teams deliver more revenue.
3. Communicate About Content
Marketers create content to move prospects through the funnel, and often times sales teams are the ones distributing this content. Make sure marketing has a consistent way to communicate new content and how it might fit into the current sales email cadence. Communication tools like slack and email can be helpful here, and for big pieces of content, consider calling a meeting to break down the key moments that sales teams can reference in their meetings and on calls.
Sales teams only have so many opportunities to approach a prospect with a content asset and move them through the funnel. Make sure your sales team is getting the right assets, to the right people, in the right stage in the buying process. Consider testing a piece of content for conversions in nurture before it’s passed off to sales. Also note that early stage leads have more patience for educational marketing emails than they do for sales emails. Figure out which pieces of content are working, and have sales use those pieces of content to get more
4. Provide Joint Support and Enablement
Sales Development Rep (SDR) teams need support and enablement, and that is not just the job of the SDR manager. The marketing team has the opportunity to play a huge role here in making sure SDRs are equipped for success with information about the messaging and positioning, the company, the market, and the product. This kind of enablement should be available to remote sales reps by phone or by video conference, and recorded for future employees. This not only helps to create more informed and successful SDRs, it also makes for a continuous experience across the buyer journey.
At EverString, we have sales enablement meetings once per week. There is always a marketer present so he or she can answer questions or present on important topics or processes.
5. Be Transparent with Pipeline and Revenue Numbers
There are companies out there that do not talk to their marketing executives about pipeline and revenue numbers. To have a marketing team with their eye on the revenue ball, you need to make sure they’re informed about where the company is in relation to pipeline and revenue, and where the company wants to be.
That doesn’t mean the entire sales and marketing team needs to know what the MQL threshold is, that can put unnecessary stress on other members of the team. But, in order to have marketing and sales teams working towards the same goals with the same expectations, there needs to be transparency at the top of both teams.
6. Use the Same Dashboards!
There are too many times when marketing and sales teams go into executive meetings with different numbers. This is frustrating for everyone. Prevent this by using the same dashboards. Pass those reports back and forth and be sure you agree with how each lead is scored or what status this or that lead has.
Which of these best practices do you think could help your sales and marketing alignment?
Sales enablement is a key component that can help align your sales and marketing teams. Download our whitepaper 7 Ways to Make Your Sales Team More Productive with Sales Enablement