How-To Guide Part 2 – Engage and Align Sales with Marketing

Welcome to our MWBE How To Guide, in which we give you simple and practical steps for reaching your sales targets. This five-part series covers the fundamentals of sales, and in this second part, we will discuss engaging and aligning sales with marketing. Read the previous article, Setting up the Sales Shop, here.

Some business people erroneously believe that sales and marketing are the same. They do have the same goal – sell more products and services – but they have very different functions. Think of them as two positions on the same bucket brigade. Both of them want to put out the fire, but one job is filling up the bucket, while the other is pouring it out.

In business, marketing’s job is to tee up qualified leads for sales. Marketing’s purpose is to narrow down the countless number of possible customers into a reachable number of likely customers, also known as qualified leads. Marketing may do this with a well-written web site and email strategy, a mass media advertising campaign or a special event to attract the perfect potential customers. With that filtering in place, sales can apply the next phase of the process to these qualified leads and close deals. Without marketing, sales will be grossly inefficient as it tries to sell to everyone with a phone number or email address.

Critical to a successful sales program is a tight alignment with your marketing program. Sales and marketing must be a team, with both parts sending the same messages and responding consistently to customer feedback. Use these steps to ensure that your sales team is engaging and aligning with your marketing team.

Step 1 – Define Your Sales Process

Among the sales team, define the sales process, starting with how you will first approach a qualified lead. Let marketing in on your plans for selling to the leads they generate. When marketing fully understands what will happen to the leads they create for marketing, they will be more equipped to identify the best sales leads.

Step 2 – Define “Qualified Lead” for Your Company

Hold a well planned meeting or retreat that includes everyone in both sales and marketing, with the sole purpose of defining what a qualified lead is. Very often sales and marketing have radically different definitions of qualified leads, and that creates conflict and frustration right off the bat. Being together physically and crafting a definition that everyone agrees on will provide the best chance for marketing to generate leads that sales will love. Also, review and update your “qualified lead” definition every six months to prevent “drift” between sales and marketing on this definition. Respond quickly to changes in your marketplace.

Arriving at this definition will require sales and marketing leadership to do some homework prior to the meeting, so that everyone on both the sales and marketing teams will:

  • Know your buyers’ profile (who – vertical; what – problem are they solving; why – current challenge; how – do they make decisions; when – ideal timeline for decision making)
  • Understand customer demographics. Your customer base might be homogenous, or it might have multiple demographic “pockets” that should be approached differently.

Step 3 – Develop a Lead Nurturing Program

Not all leads are in a position to buy at the time of first contact with a salesperson. That doesn’t mean they won’t be at some time, and that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a qualified lead. Sales should develop a lead nurturing program with regular facetime that provides value during every connection. By seeing promise in every qualified lead, and by nurturing those leads, you maximize the efforts of your marketing team. Maintaining a base of prospects that are primed for a sale keeps your pipeline full.

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