Hey you! Yes, you over there in Marketing Land with your constant creative campaigns, penchant for all things social, and chatter about creating content and finding ROI. You and your fellow marketers are the golden children of the office, right? You’re positioned right in that sweet spot where your fun, creative side meets business sense and big picture profitability—who wouldn’t love that? I’ll tell you who: The sales team. In fact, as you’re over there basking in all your marketing glory, your sales team just might hate you.
Ok, that’s harsh.
They probably don’t hate you, but I had to get your attention so you’d stick with me. Nobody volunteers to read an article all about what they’re doing wrong, after all, without a bit of massaging. (As a fellow marketer, I hope that helps take the sting out of what I’m about to tell you.)
Unpleasant Fact: If you’re like many marketers, you’re doing some things wrong when it comes to your sales team. Let’s discuss four major ones.
Do you play hot potato with leads, throwing them over the wall to sales without doing any actual qualification? Perhaps you think you’re doing a fine job of qualifying those leads, but your definition of “qualified” and sales’ definition of “qualified” can be vastly different. If you’re like many marketers, you’ve never taken the time to ask.
Listen, I know marketers can’t get too involved in leads because there’s just not enough time in the day. And I’ve been there before—those times when you toss a top of the funnel lead over to sales without checking first to see if it’s even a true opportunity. It happens. Those incidents should be isolated, though, and not the norm.
Make it Right: Your marketing team needs to have nurturing programs in place. You can even use marketing automation platforms based on activities and interests to make this process easier to swallow. It doesn’t have to be hard, but it will take a bit of time. You’ll need to work closely with your Sales Development Team (SDR) to see how to best approach the nurturing process. (Don’t have an SDR? I recently wrote all about why you need one.)
The word ‘strategy’ is so multi-dimensional in the business world. You have a marketing strategy, a sales strategy, a corporate strategy, etc. SO. MANY. STRATEGIES.
And that’s the point—there are too many different strategy meetings happening behind closed doors. Don’t get me wrong—of course there is a place for individual strategy meetings (hello, C-suite), and there always will be. In some instances, though, making those discussions a little more collaborative could save steps and streamline processes down the road. For example, your sales team is on the front lines. They hear what prospects and clients are saying. In fact, they could probably tell you customers’ most common challenges and provide some insight into how your messaging, content, and products/services are received in the field. Most marketers, however, don’t include sales in the strategy process and miss out on this valuable perspective.
Make it Right: In the spirit of good teamwork, you should invite the sales team to be a part of your relevant strategy sessions and brainstorming meetings. You could even consider running some of your lead gen programs by them as well. Now, it might not add value every time. Truthfully, sometimes it could just serve to appease them. I’d bet most of the time, though, they are going to provide real insight and assistance.
In this age of Big Data and uber-connectivity, what we measure and how we measure it has basically exploded. Just because you can track everything, though, doesn’t mean you should. In fact, many in sales believe marketers worry too much about “fluffy” stats than hard revenue figures. For example, how many clicks your banner ad got is an important stat to know. It is not more important, though, than the number of sales resulting from those clicks. Additional fluff stats include how many social media “likes” your business has or data on page views.
Make it Right: Wait, I know what you’re thinking: ‘What is this guy talking about? Those are marketing metrics that matter! I use those!’
They do matter, and I know you use them. I’m only saying to be more ROI focused as you approach metrics. For example, calculating the customer acquisition cost (CAC) could be a good way to determine the success of your marketing campaign, and that’s a measurement sales could get behind. Another suggestion—as you track web traffic, try to track the source of that traffic, too. (For more ideas, read KNG’s eBook: 6 Marketing Metrics Your Boss Actually Cares About.)
This point has a little bite to it, I know, but your sales team probably views you and your marketing cohorts as having it pretty easy. Case in point: Quotas. Both sales and marketing have them. Sales’ quotas are generally pretty rigid, and the consequences for under performing are usually straightforward. As a marketer, I’m going to bet you’re afforded a bit more ‘wiggle room’ with your quotas, right? After all, marketing is a creative endeavor that comes with a hefty side of subjectivity. And, as I just noted, the metrics for measurement can come from two totally different camps.
Make it Right: It’s not that you’re slacking off, but it can look that way. While that’s not your fault (your mother always told you to worry about yourself, right), it can be a precursor to a little self-evaluation. Have you settled a bit too comfortably in your marketing seat? Set some new goals for yourself and your team. Try taking a different angle with your next campaign. Isolate a useful metric you haven’t examined yet, pull the data, and dive in.
Listen, I’m not a mean guy. I touched on those four common mistakes above because I’m on your team, and I want the team to do better. Sometimes that means tough love. At the end of the day, marketing is hard work. Sales is hard work, too. They’re very different, but they’re not islands. Let me repeat that: Marketing is not an island. Include your sales team in strategy meetings, initiate some basic lead qualification, and try to take a more revenue-focused different point of view now and then (if for no other reason than to add new perspective). I think you’ll find the results are worth the extra effort.
Now it’s your turn to tell me something. How does your marketing team interface with the sales team at work today? Can you identify any ways you could improve that relationship or make communication smoother? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas, so leave them for me in the comments.