How Sales-Marketing Alignment Results in Better Lead Nurturing

What sets apart winning teams? When it comes to professional sports, it is not just the star players or superior coaches that ensure a team will win. Of course, these people can increase the likelihood of victory, but what matters is a unified group of people that is striving towards the same goal. Truly great teams seem to operate as one. Players seamlessly work together, throwing and catching balls, and following preplanned strategies that help them beat their opponents.

A unified strategy is also essential for success in business. If multiple departments within the same organization have conflicting objectives, there is no way that the business can continue to grow. However, in large corporations especially, each department can seem like an island unto themselves. They may even be isolated physically and have little to no interaction with other teams.

Collaboration is the best way for a business to improve and all teams should be working together and supporting each other to reach their objectives. And while it is important for the company as a whole to be unified, there is no more important task than sales and marketing alignment, particularly when it comes to nurturing leads and increasing conversions.

In general, most businesses would agree that their top goals are to boost sales and become more profitable. But if there is a disconnect in the strategies that are used to reach these goals, it could badly affect the way leads are captured, nurtured, and converted. Here’s why sales and marketing teams must be on the same page in order to support a growing business.

Misalignment negatively impacts lead generation

Sales and marketing obviously go hand-in-hand, but if their messaging and methods contradict each other, it can actually do severe damage to your brand.

Confusing messaging from sales and marketing results in non-unified branding. Combined with under- or over-targeting, this can severely slow down the sales cycle and make it difficult to nurture leads.

For instance, say that your marketing team is focused heavily on growing a social media presence. They may focus on gathering interest data from your followers (a significant portion of which might be existing customers) and target them with social media ads. Now, say that your sales team is unaware of this new strategy and in order to generate more sales, they send multiple marketing emails to existing customers. This could lead to an overlap in your target audience, not only annoying them, but probably resulting in lost sales.

By aligning sales and marketing teams to keep messaging similar and objectives united, customers will have a more cohesive experience and branding will be stronger. Marketing and sales teams should discuss their objectives and design a game plan accordingly to make sure that no customers slip between the cracks. In our example above, a better option would be to funnel previously targeted customer accounts that engaged with ads over to the sales team for follow up communication.

Alignment results in lead return

Traditionally, it’s been Marketing’s job to uncover leads and send them on to the sales team to close the deal. However, many sales departments often complain about the quality of these leads. This can fester into an unhealthy blame game where each department blames the other for the lack of conversions. Ultimately, poor communication and a lack of shared data resources is at the center of the disconnect. If both sales and marketing departments are unsure of the underlying plans and execution strategies, then it will be quite difficult for either of them to do their job correctly.

Basing marketing and sales plans on the buyer’s journey and behavioral data is a much more effective way of closing sales. In fact, the vast majority of customers these days expect businesses to utilize their data in order to personalize interactions and provide them with relevant content.

A united front helps nudge leads to conversion

Two heads are better than one, and two teams working on the same objectives is better than just one working at it alone. Taking a project management-type approach here is going to be far more effective than setting generalized objectives and hoping that everyone figures out how to make it happen. Marketing and sales should create a lead follow up and messaging strategy by assigning tasks and nurturing flow unambiguously. For example,

  1. Marketing and Sales can work together to define the ideal buyer profiles to target, based on their industry, revenue, or company size.
  2. Then they define lead scoring criteria for a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). These might include number of previous engagements, location, BOFU content viewed, and so on. It is critical to define point where the lead will be handed off to sales.
  3. Set up a two-way reporting and feedback system for better accountability. This can include the number of SQLs passed on by Marketing, the number of follow-ups, and the close ratio.

Businesses that were able to successfully align sales and marketing objectives reported significantly more success in terms of converting leads and hitting growth goals than their competitors. Marketo’s own research found that aligned organizations had 67% higher conversion rates and their leads generated over 209% more revenue.

One for all and all for one

The time is now to take control over your business by ensuring alignment and keeping your leads at the center point of your sales and marketing strategies. Remember to always keep the customer experience paramount to all objectives and provide your sales and marketing teams with the tools and support they need to work together in order to qualify leads, keep nudging them down the funnel, and close sales.

What conflicts, if any, arise between the sales and marketing departments in your organization? How do you attempt to resolve them? What lead scoring methods do you use? Care to share in the comments?

Via Marketo Blog

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