By ADAM BLITZER
It’s an age-old battle: the war between sales and marketing. Marketing runs a campaign that generates hundreds of leads, and then rests on its laurels. Sales gripes that none of the leads were qualified or interested in buying the product. Until interests are aligned, the two departments may never agree, so there are some simple steps that sales and marketing can take to help make campaigns more successful for everyone.
1. Align Department Metrics
The first step to aligning sales and marketing is for leadership to set forth key performance indicators (KPIs) based on mutual success. This helps ensure that everyone remains focused. A successful marketing campaign should be measured not on how many leads are produced, but on how many qualified leads were assigned to sales. Companies should also track the percentage of revenue or projected dollars in the sales pipeline that resulted from a marketing campaign. When nurturing leads, it is also helpful to track the various “marketing touches” a prospect has received to determine which campaigns help push a new lead from an interested party to a true sales opportunity.
2. Talk About It
Once the end game – achieving the new cross-department goals – has been established, sales and marketing can start devising a plan to reach success. Yep, everyone needs to huddle up in a conference room, order in lunch and agree to listen to each other’s ideas. Marketing can start by outlining what they look for when they run a targeted lead generation campaign, and sales can share if they think the appropriate criteria are being used. Brainstorm a list of who your ideal customer is and start to form one or more personas for marketing to work on targeting.
3. Show Them What’s What
Take the buddy-buddy sales and marketing team building a step further by having members of the marketing team tag along on sales demos. This can be a helpful education process, allowing marketers who are often removed from the field to see what it’s like in the trenches. The experience will both allow them to get a feel for the interests and concerns of their target market, and see how their sales team is in action. The result is twofold: marketing is able to both refine their campaigns and develop internal materials to better arm the sales team.
4. Establish an SLA
When everyone is on the same page about what constitutes an “ideal lead,” put some standards in place around how to deal with those incoming leads. A service-level agreement (SLA) between sales and marketing usually includes mutually agreed upon standards like:
- Meeting three criteria points (established by both sales and marketing) will trigger lead assignment
- Once assigned, sales will follow-up with new leads within 48 hours
- Sales will return any unsatisfactory leads to marketing for nurturing
- Marketing will nurture leads for a pre-defined amount of time (or until further qualification triggers re-engagement by sales)
5. Refine the Process
Just because you’ve gotten started on the track to sales and marketing nirvana doesn’t mean you should take a “set it and forget it” approach to your lead strategy. Be sure that the teams meet regularly (once a quarter is a good starting point) to discuss how the market has evolved and establish new lead personas you may want to target. Better yet, have a member of the marketing team attend regular sales meetings to keep an open line of communication between the two groups.
Adam Blitzer is co-founder and COO for Pardot. He is responsible for product management, marketing, and operations. Adam was previously a senior e-mail marketing consultant for InterContinental Hotels Group, a consultant at Moxie Interactive, and spent four years in Japan at an advertising agency.