Traditionally, these two departments have been run as completely separate entities in the enterprise, often working in different parts of the building, or even at completely different locations altogether.
The result, of course, has been disharmony, which is inevitably bred from the inherent lack of communication that keeping two teams disparate engenders.
And a lot of the problem comes down to a very simple yet fundamental discrepancy as to what defines a lead as being “sales-ready”. On one side of the fence, the guys in marketing have their own definition – but on the other, the sales guys have a completely different idea as to what constitutes a genuine opportunity to make a sale.
And so here’s the scenario: marketing nurtures a bunch of leads to the point where they believe they’re ready to be passed over to the sales team, and they do so. Sales, however, sifts through these so-called leads, but determines half of them aren’t sales-ready at all. Then, when they fail to close out deals, it’s the marketing they blame for not doing their job properly – whilst of course marketing digs their heels in and say that it’s the sales guys that are useless.
Either way, leads are lost, revenue is not maximised, and the conflict between these divisions continues to inflate.
Defining a “Qualified Lead”
It’s a problem that is coming into ever-sharper focus amongst business professionals the world over. Indeed, a 2014 study by CSO Insights found that less than 1 in 2 companies have an agreed-upon definition of what a “sales-ready lead” actually is.
(Image source: marketingcharts.com)
The figures reveal, as you can see, not much movement over the three years, and in the two years since this study was conducted I’m pretty certain – from my own experience – that they won’t have shifted that much more.
And that’s a big shame. For indeed, further findings from the CSO Insights study reveal that those companies which do work with a formalised “sales-ready” definition enjoy substantially higher conversion rates:
“Among those with a formally agreed-upon definition of what constitutes a qualified lead, some 29.8% claim a lead conversion rate (leads converted to opportunities) of more than 75%. By contrast, only 18.2% of firms that lack a qualified definition at all boast conversion rates at that level, as do 20.8% of firms with an informal definition.”
How to Create A Strong Relationship Between Marketing and Sales
Many companies know that they need to induce a culture-change within their walls, though few have yet to implement it. Indeed, Marketing Week reveals some alarming figures from recruitment company Ranstad that highlight this point:
“Despite the fact that 80% of businesses recognise the benefits of greater alignment between sales and marketing, most (60%) aren’t unifying their divisions.”
So, what’s to be done?
Well, here are four tips to start building a stronger relationship between sales and marketing.
1- Formalise Your “Qualified Lead” Definition
I think I’ve hammered the point home thus far – but here’s just one more reminder to get it sorted, and quick!
2- Mix Desks
The best way to improve relationships between your teams is to get them in the same room working together. Not only will each division be able to learn more about what the other does (and therefore work out what each can do to better support the other), but working relationships will be better. Happy workers are productive workers – and a perpetual “us-against-them” conflict rarely does much for bringing smiles to faces.
3- Let Marketing Listen in on Sales Calls
Beyond what can be learned by mixing desks, take this simple step to let the process of education continue. If marketing teams really are passing over leads that aren’t sales-ready, then perhaps it’s simply because they don’t understand the conversations that the sales team has regularly with prospects. Marketers need to know what real customers ask sales associates. With this information, marketing can then start to create content that answers these questions long before a prospect picks up the phone, making the conversion journey more streamlined, and the sales team with less problems to tackle when trying to seal a deal.
4- Give Marketing Access to Sales Enquiry Emails
Another great source of content ideas are found in the emails that are sent to sales and customer services. After making contact with a prospect, sales are very often asked questions, such as “How does this work?” and “How do I do this?”. By identifying these pain points, marketing can set to work addressing them in the content that they produce, once again lubricating the sales funnel for easier prospect passage.
Do you want to improve company culture and find a great solution that will help sales and marketing work better together? What about enabling a more accurate lead generation process? Take a look at the LeadSeed sales and marketing platform. Our service delivers better qualified new business leads and strengthens customer relationships. Get in touch to find out more.