What’s that grey thing, sat over there in the corner? That thing with the big ears…You may have seen it before in different places you have worked.
Yes, you guessed it. We’re talking about the elephant in the room. The one that sometimes tiptoes in and causes all sorts of mischief when businesses aren’t looking, or have their attention focused on other things. And the one that can sit like a giant wall between sales and marketing teams.
Basically, what we’re talking about here is the friction and rivalry that can sometimes exist between these two teams. It’s likely that anyone working in a sales-driven environment will have come across this rivalry at one time or another. Indeed, you may have a story or two to tell about places you’ve worked where the elephants weren’t just causing mischief, they were running riot!
But all this friction does is get in the way of what could be a united, powerful and successful partnership. As you are, after all, both aiming to achieve the same result in the end – sales. And each team has its own important role to play in landing them.
It’s good to talk
Getting in sync and achieving a closer relationship may feel like it’s currently a million miles away, but it could be easier than you think. The first step is to start thinking about sales and marketing as one unit, not two separate and stand-alone divisions. Yes each team will have its own tactics and responsibilities, but ultimately you are working towards the same goal – to attract strong leads, nurture them and finally convert them.
You also need to get to a place where everyone knows what’s expected of them individually, they know what other people are doing, how it all fits together and also how each person’s role fits within the bigger picture.
So how do you get to that place and achieve the unity which can be so powerful?
It can be started with something as simple as a conversation.
Get both teams sat together around a table, to discuss and agree on the key elements of the sales process. Each team will have its own specialist insights and ideas. By pooling this invaluable information, and being fully joined up in your thinking, you’ll be stronger than ever.
Things to talk about:
Share your facts and figures
To work together better you need to discuss and understand what each team needs to be able to do their job effectively. For sales, this will be about the number of quality leads they need to be able to achieve good results. For marketing, it is knowing what information they need to be able to increase the quality and quantity of good leads.
Define what a good lead will look like
The more targeted the leads are that you generate, the better your conversion rates are going to be, so decide together what a good lead will look like. This may include the type of company, size, location, industry and structural set-up. Agree a list of the core criteria you’re going to use to assess the strength of each lead.
Define what a high quality lead is
Now continue to narrow your criteria down even further, to be clear on exactly what the top, most high quality leads will be. Also share here what striking gold would look like – who does the sales team have on their ultimate dream client wish list? This is a key element to the marketing-sales bond, and when unanswered, it can cause a continuous rift. Instead of asking “who defines a “sales ready” lead?”- agree to decide the criteria together.
Define the buyer ‘personas’
Marketing teams will be aiming content at individuals – the different buyer personas – so work together to define what they are. This may include job title, age, gender, status and behaviors. These are the people that content will be developed around. The definitions will help guide the subject, pitch, tone and even the communication channels used to reach them.
Define the different stages of the buyer journey
Share your insights to plot out a typical buyer journey, then add in the different behaviors that buyers may exhibit at the different stages of the process. This will help you not only ensure content is hitting all stages (with the right info at the right time) but will help you define when a sales lead is ready to be passed to sales. Agree what signs you should look out for that would suggest it’s now the right time. It’s also important to discuss where responsibility falls in regards leaked leads. When a lead loses its way, when do marketing aim to rekindle it, and when does it fall to sales?
Decide what additional core content is needed
As well as defining the sales process, teams can increase the effectiveness and targeting of marketing content by combining what they know and hear. What are the most common questions that the sales team hear from prospects? What other information do they ask for? If sales can feedback these snippets to marketing then they can strengthen the process by covering it off in their content plans.
Strengthen creative content plans
Having defined your buyer personas, share ideas for what content topics may be of most interest to prospects and also existing clients. Again, joint input here can prove to be invaluable. Working together to brainstorm what type of content would be of interest, and what is planned, can help pinpoint any gaps and areas that could be enhanced. Then look to how teams can work together to share and distribute that content- ask what content can boost pipeline movement for sales as well as marketing.
Now you have defined all the important stuff and you’re ready to go, don’t stop talking! Set up regular meetings to keep assessing, revising and strengthening your sales process. These meetings don’t always have to involve every single member of both teams, you could for example put together a taskforce with representatives from each. But make sure you do all try and sit around the table together at least once a year, to do a full review of how it’s all going.
You need to keep checking that this core information is still correct and up-to-date, and keep feeding back on any new insights that have been gained. Consider all the ways you could improve the process even more, so it becomes an ongoing sequence of adjustment and refinement – evolving as your prospects, the communication channels you use and your wider company goals evolve. Keep sharing ideas and keep celebrating the successes you’ve achieved together. And pretty soon, you could be an unstoppable force.
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