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How to Close the Gap Between Marketing & Sales

If we were to summarize how to bridge the gap between Sales and Marketing teams at a company, it would be to “eliminate the silo mentality”. This mentality is defined by Business Dictionary as:

A mind-set present in some companies when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the same company. This type of mentality will reduce the efficiency of the overall operation, reduce morale, and may contribute to the demise of a productive company culture.

Doesn’t sound like an effective way to run a business, does it? However, some companies are creating a “siloed” environment without even realizing it. Consider that many businesses have their sales and marketing departments operating in separate areas, with little communication between the two regularly. In fact, this is true for 60% of businesses. This silo mentality is causing businesses to miss out on 10% or more of revenue annually.

It’s so important for businesses to come up with a strategy for these two teams to work closer together. When sales and marketing team up efficiently, it leads to an increase in revenue, plus better brand messaging and awareness. That’s why we’re going to take a deep dive into this silo mentality, as it relates to your sales and marketing teams. Ultimately, we’ll discuss how you can break down these walls in 5 steps.

Step 1: Get to Know the Other Department and What They Need

Closing the sales and marketing gap starts with understanding how the other team works. Then, think through what contributions you can make in your role to help. Let’s start by discussing each department’s fundamental focuses and needs.

Marketing teams work to find new prospects and pique their interest, so they can feed the sales funnel. To do so, they produce and publish relevant content that educates their target audience about the brand and what it offers. Sales teams are focused on the sales funnel, which consists of prospects that have already expressed interest and communicated with the brand. They regularly work to persuade each individual prospect, in various stages of the buying process, to make a purchase decision. 

Already, you can see a gap between the two departments based on their workday focuses. One excels at finding new prospects, and the other excels at persuading those prospects. But what some fail to realize is how these two departments actually depend on each other. Remember that the prospects in the sales funnel were once part of the audience the marketing team targets. That means marketing and sales are working with the same perspective individuals. It’s essential the departments work collaboratively with one another, to make the process more efficient for the customer.

What Marketing Wants from Sales

It’s key for sales teams to understand how they can help the marketing department work more efficiently. Based on a survey by DemandGen where they asked marketing executives what they wanted most from their sales team:

  • 34% said better (quicker) lead follow-up
  • 32% said consistent use of systems (i.e. CRM)
  • 15% said feedback on the success of campaigns
  • 13% said use messaging and tools provided by marketing
What Sales Wants from Marketing

Marketing teams need to understand how to help sales teams be more productive and work the leads better. When DemandGen turned the tables and asked salespeople what they wanted most from marketing, they found that:

  • 55% said better-quality leads
  • 44% said more leads
  • 39% said competitive information/intelligence
  • 37% said brand awareness
Facilitate Communication between Teams

Do your sales and marketing teams know what they need from each other to perform their best? The only way to know for sure is to get the two departments to have a conversation. According to DemandGen, a whopping 49% of marketing and sales executives say communication is “by far the greatest culprit” in the divide between the two departments. However, most sales and marketing teams have similar high-level goals. They want to bring in revenue for the company. They both want better leads and more relevant conversions with sales-ready buyers (which, of course, equates back to revenue). 

In many ways, sales and marketing really are on the same page. But many aren’t working on the same page. Imagine all the extra revenue that could be earned if the departments made a better effort to communicate with each other. Research shows that better communication between the two teams does in fact lead to higher revenue gains. For instance, when sales and marketing teams have a system in place for collaboration:

Start setting up routine meetings between the two teams. Create structured agendas to craft marketing campaigns and sales strategies that would benefit the needs of both departments. Just make sure that both teams are speaking the same language before they start communicating. Which brings us to our next step…

Step 2: Speak a Common Language

One thing that keeps sales and marketing separated is that they interact with customers when they are in different stages of the buyer’s journey. Marketers communicate with buyers before and during the “awareness stage” of the journey (top of the sales funnel). On the other hand, sales reps communicate with buyers as they approach the “decision stage” (towards the middle and bottom of the funnel).

This is all well and good. But it becomes a problem when marketing and sales are not speaking the same language. They often use different definitions when talking about the same buyer. At the same time, current B2B buying trends pertain to both sales and marketing teams, and leveraging them could lead to serious increases in revenue.

Define Leads: MQL vs. SQL

Both marketing and sales teams want better leads and more relevant conversions with sales-ready buyers. Makes sense. However, go ask your sales team their definition of a “sales-ready lead”. Then go ask your marketing team the same thing. If they gave different answers, then it’s probably time to schedule those cross-department meetings. And it’s more than just a discussion merely over semantics. Why? Because research shows sales teams ignore 80% of marketing leads. If marketing isn’t producing leads that fit the sales team’s criteria, then their time and resources used to generate those leads are wasted. The whole system crumbles.

Granted, there will be some variance between how “leads” are discussed in both departments. That’s why there are two separate terms altogether: marketing-qualified leads (MQL) and sales-qualified leads (SQL). Remember that there are different stages in the buyer’s journey, and that’s okay. Regardless, you must have a company-wide understanding as to what qualifies as a lead, a MQL, and a SQL, and which term applies to which stage of the buyer’s journey. What you don’t want is each department operating by their own specific set of criteria, independent of other departments.

Define the Sales Funnel and Buyer’s Journey

Now it’s time the two departments have a similar conversation regarding the journey of those leads – as they work their way down the marketing-sales funnel. Consider that 68% of B2B marketers haven’t identified their marketing-sales funnel as a team. If you want to accelerate the journey of your buyers, there needs to be regular communication between your sales and marketing teams. This is because both teams’ efforts and buyer knowledge contribute to that funnel.

But why do you need to identify a marketing-sales funnel at all? Well, buyers are already nearly a third of the way through their journey before they even connect with sales teams. Before that point, they are in communication with marketing. Plus, up to 70% of marketing materials go unused because sales believes the content they’ve created isn’t based on the funnel. The best advice we could give is to get both teams to come up with a holistic, high-level understanding of your funnel. Figure out the buyer’s experience as they move from communication with your marketing team to your sales team. That way, all the hard work in both departments can be utilized appropriately.

Define Buyer Personas

Do both departments know the specific wants, needs, pain points, and demographic information of your target customer base? Your sales team is likely more familiar with this. They are the ones on the front lines interacting with customers on a regular basis. But if they’re not sharing these insights with the marketing team, then they’re not helping the company as a whole.

Remember that each team has its own strong suits. Marketing teams may forget the importance of building a relationship with the customer on a deeper level, which comes second-nature to a salesperson. In order for campaigns to be successful, marketers have to become buyer experts. The easiest way to personalize campaign efforts and target the right audience is to start meeting with the sales team to get insider knowledge about the buyer.

 Step 3: Use Tools to Streamline Collaboration

It’s important that the appropriate automation tools are being used to facilitate collaboration and streamline processes. Making materials and data accessible for both teams is paramount in bringing together these two departments. Consider that:

  • Companies that align their sales and marketing by putting more collaborative practices and meetings in place generated 208% more revenue from marketing efforts.
  • Companies with dynamic, adaptable sales and marketing processes report that 10% more of their salespeople meet their quotas, compared to other companies.

If you do not yet have a system – like a CRM – to keep all departments in the loop of all operations, you’re missing out on a ton of potential revenue! You never want to make a business decision without having access to all insider knowledge as possible. While it’s great to schedule regular cross-department meetings, it’s even better to keep everyone informed on a daily basis.

Step 4: Create Content that Satisfies Your Sales Team, Marketing Team, and Buyer Needs

Now that you have a holistic view of what marketing, sales, and buyers need, you are now ready to create content to appeal to your target buyers. There are tons of options for marketing content – including blogs, videos, infographics, e-books, webinars, emails, social media posts, and much more. Your marketing team can get ideas for this content with the help of sales and their specific knowledge. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when creating content:

Once you start collaborating efficiently with both departments, your prospects will experience a more seamless experience with your company. Additionally, your teams will be able to work more productively and reap the benefits of understanding the entire buyer experience!

Step 5: Implement a Feedback Loop Between Sales and Marketing

Collaboration with sales and marketing cannot end after content is produced for buyers. Once buyers have made it through the entire marketing-sales funnel, the two teams need to get together to discuss the outcome and patterns of success. Your CRM can help you look for patterns in your strategy that have led to closed sales. Then, you’ll want to replicate those processes to improve conversion rates and win more customers down the road.

Implement an efficient “feedback loop” between marketing and sales teams to help forecast each department’s goals. Most likely, at various points throughout the year, your company’s leaders will sit down to determine sales and marketing goals for the month, quarter, and year. When this happens, each team should ask one another what contributions they need from the other teams to achieve those goals.

Goal Forecasting

Marketing teams will likely operate by a “lead volume” goal. In other words, their goal will be to generate a number of leads to pass off to the sales team. Sales teams will likely have a numerical goal, or “revenue goal”. This may be broken down into “sales opportunities” and “actual (closed) sales.”

As we already discussed, sales teams can’t achieve their goals without efforts from the marketing team. They are like two parts of the same engine – they work with the same set of prospective buyers. So, the input from the marketing team has to be coordinated with the sales team’s goals, so that the sales team can realistically achieve them.

Here’s one efficient way to implement a goal forecasting process:
  1. Figure out how many leads the marketing team must produce to allow the sales team to hit their revenue goal. You can figure out this number based on… 

The sales team’s average close rate – historically speaking. (This is where that CRM comes in handy!). 

Determining the average dollar amount per closed sale for your business.

Multiply the average closed sale amount by the average number of closed sales, given marketing’s lead volume goal and average close rate.

2. Now that the marketing team has their lead volume goal, they should analyze their marketing channels to determine patterns of success in the past. For instance, how many leads are typically generated in the given time frame from:

Email marketing

Paid search

Social media

Content marketing

Traditional marketing

And any others

3. The marketing team can divvy up their lead volume goal by channel, so that they know where to best focus their efforts. 

At the end of the day… Marketing Team’s Acquired Leads + Closed Sales = $$$ Revenue Earned

If you’re looking for ways to facilitate your sales and marketing efforts, 360Connect provides many sources to make your life easier! Take a look at our business tips section in our Supplier Blog, which is a support channel for sales and marketing professionals, and is updated weekly.

If you’re looking for a reliable way to boost your marketing and sales efforts and see a higher ROI, give 360Connect’s Revenue Generation Program a look. We help companies improve sales and revenue with a seamless, affordable solution. Get in touch with us to find out more about how we can help.

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