“In the year 2016, around 38% of the leading businesses had marketing and sales alignment as the top funnel priority.” – CMO Council
These numbers clearly indicate why in the year 2017, the best-in-class companies are expected to concentrate a large share of their resources in bridging the gap between sales and marketing.
The following text concentrates on sales and marketing alignment to eliminate the silos and drive an improved ROI in today’s account based everything marketing scenario.
Setting Up Same Objectives
According to a study conducted by HubSpot, misalignment of sales and marketing in B2B businesses costs nearly 10% of revenue annually. The numbers are alarming, irrespective of whether you are a medium scale business or a large-scale enterprise. So, the foremost objective has to be – reaching an agreement for clear identification of objectives.
Defining Goals in Alignment
It is vital that both the sides are on same page, for addressing leads (here, sales-ready leads). While defining goals, make sure you have found an answer to these questions: understanding the ‘customer’ for your brand, knowing revenue-wise profitable leads, measuring monthly sales competition, finding if it is possible to have more online demonstrations, categorizing inquiries, target accounts, etc.
Adopting a Common Language
After clearly defining goals, the next task in the pipeline is to agree on definitions of the key terminologies.
MQL (Marketing Qualified Leads) – When marketing passes a lead to the sales department, it should have met the common criteria for lead qualification. It is important to specify how a specific MQL is passed to sales and what its expected engagement time is.
SAL (Sales Accepted Leads) – A lead passed on to the sales reps has to be credible enough to be accepted as an SAL. Such leads will be allotted a certain time frame to ascertain if they qualify to be used by the sales reps.
SQL (Sales Qualified Leads) – At this stage, the sales reps confirm a lead to be an opportunity. It is then moved down the pipeline after being assigned a specific estimated value and time frame to close the lead.
Converted – Any opportunity that is observed to have chances of becoming a customer is categorized as a conversion.
Communicating with the Teams
According to Content Marketing Institute (CMI), nearly 60-70% of B2B content concentrated towards a specific campaign is almost never used. The reason being lack of communication that results in creation of irrelevant data for target audience. This is why encouraging frequent, open communication is fundamental to align the available assets towards one common goal. You can indulge in
- Weekly or fortnightly sessions with sales team
- Staying updated on the products
- Acquiring feedback from sales team on lead quality
- Closed loop reporting is crucial at every step
Integrating Sales and Marketing
Usually, it so happens that the sales team’s resources are wasted in nurturing unproductive prospects. It, therefore, makes sense for you to shift focus towards better alignment of sales and marketing. Measures for implementation include:
- Sales and Marketing Waterfall – Quite often, the problem arises when sales and marketing define different lead pipelines. Right from the identification of visitors to lead nurturing, the standard sales and marketing demand waterfall model serves as a mediator between the two.
- Designing a Smarketing SLA (Service Level Agreement) for better alignment
- Planning marketing campaigns for sales is a good idea, irrespective of if the point of interest is cold-lead drips or the lost deal campaigns
- Orienting the two teams together on technology front also contributes well by automating the entire process
Optimizing the Process
Around 57% of B2B organizations consider identification of MQLs and SQLs as the prime business objective of marketing process, reports a HubSpot survey. Key measures include:
- Building CDAs (Commonly Defined Agreements) to identify a list of agreed-upon performance metrics
- Maintaining follow-up on the already undertaken initiatives, holding meetings and gauging performance metrics to define the scope of improvement
An Aberdeen Group Study had found that well-aligned organizations achieved 32% higher revenue growth on an average, whereas these numbers decremented by 7% for non-aligned businesses. So, wise engagement of resources is fundamental.