A lack of alignment between sales and marketing has plagued companies of all sizes for decades. According to the Harvard Business Review, misalignment between business development and marketing costs businesses more than $1 trillion per year. According to the study from HBR, misalignment is actually the number one reason why an organization’s revenue stagnates or declines.
Sales and marketing collaboration is vital to any revenue-generating initiative, but especially lead nurturing.
Why Alignment On Lead Nurturing Is Critical
Bringing your sales team into your lead nurturing strategy will lead to a growth in marketing-generated revenue, higher sales win rates, and faster profit growth numbers. Lead nurturing is the lifeblood of your sales organization and it’s essential to get it right if you want to keep your pipeline full.
How can your operations support the entire sales process if your business development professionals haven’t weighed in? Companies that don’t have sales as an active part of the lead nurturing program also experience:
- Waste of budget – up to 70% of B2B marketing content ends up not being used
- Longer sales cycle due to inefficient processes
- Less customer satisfaction and a poor buying experience
- Cultural issues between marketing and sales departments (poor internal customer satisfaction)
- Misunderstanding about the quantifiable value marketing brings
10 Steps For Involving Sales In Your Lead Nurturing Program
We’ve worked with clients of all shapes and sizes to put together their most effective lead nurturing workflows. One thing that impactful lead nurturing programs all have in common is that marketing ops has gotten buy-in from sales. Not only have they received sign-off on the process, but sales remains an active part of supporting leads through marketing automation.
Here are ten steps to follow in order to make sales a partner in your lead nurturing efforts.
- Identify a sales professional who can act as a “representative” and be a consistent part of a collaborative sales/marketing team. Ensure they have some tenure at your company and can also accurately speak to what customers are saying. Set up a regular meeting cadence with them in order to discuss ongoing efforts.
- Work jointly on a single customer journey. Sit down with the representative you identified and work through the stages, from awareness to brand loyalty. You’re looking for a consistent, holistic brand experience. This connectivity will allow your team to track a prospect across the entire funnel.
- Get sales sign-off on unique customer personas. Does everyone agree on who you’re actually selling your product or service to? Again, sit down together and document various buyer personas. Review things like size, company type, industry, etc. Make sure to use the data you have at your disposal but also input from your sales pros. Who do they actually speak to? Which of their prospects end up being most likely to purchase?
- Have sales provide a list of customer pain points and questions to be addressed with content. Your sales team can provide valuable insights into what prospects are looking for when they reach out to your company. You’re looking for specific problems or challenges that you can create content around. Take a “marketing first” approach where a significant part of lead nurturing is sending emails and content. That way prospects are primed to hear from your sales team when they call and everyone is on the same page with talking points.
- Provide a regular channel for sales to deliver specific feedback from their interactions with prospects and customers. If you’ve completed the step above, you’re off to a great start – but you want this process to be ongoing. You can set up a monthly meeting or request a weekly recap, but you need some sort of avenue for sales to consistently let you know what they’re hearing on the phone and in meetings.
- Create marketing assets that can help sales to close further down the funnel. Content marketing is highly efficient at moving people through the sales funnel. When marketing and sales both leverage content as part of the lead nurturing process, it’s even more powerful. Unfortunately, research shows that a lot of sales professionals don’t know what content to send (or even what they have access to) when conversations happen further down the funnel. In fact, this is an often cited complaint from sales teams in general. Ensure that you have content ready to go for every stage of the funnel – white papers, product sheets, testimonials, etc. Make sure sales teams are educated on what content is available at every stage and provide them a visual of the automated workflows that occur so they know what prospects are getting.
- Ensure sales reviews your lead scoring activities. Hold a conversation about which actions are worth a higher or lower score (and why). You’d be surprised how often marketing thinks a certain action qualifies a lead, but sales believes it doesn’t matter as much – and vice versa. Take the input you get from sales seriously before plotting out values in lead scoring.
- Ensure you have a formal process to turn over qualified leads. Part of that process should be following up in a few days to ensure sales has taken action on those leads. Adobe Marketo Engage users should have a program set up to qualify and then send leads to sales, and ping them with follow-up reminders. Ideally you have these workflows set up to occur automatically.
- Track joint KPIs. One of the biggest reasons sales and marketing tend to be misaligned is that they’re measured differently – their performance is tracked through different KPIs. Unite under one common goal by looking at the same metrics. Revenue growth is a good place to start, but sit down together to determine which shared KPIs you’ll review together to know if your lead nurturing is working.
- Host monthly meetings to review the pipeline together. Whether you do so with the entire marketing and sales teams or just get together with the representative you identified above, you need a regular and formalized schedule for going through the pipeline together. Bring documentation and have your CRM open to make updates in real-time. Ensure relevant notes are captured on each opportunity and set follow-up reminders for the next appropriate action.
Sales Reps Play A Role In The Quality Of Leads
Sales and marketing alignment is key in all areas of revenue generation. In today’s digital world, technology can enable that alignment like never before. Sales often request a higher level of more qualified leads from marketing, and they can work toward that by being a proactive part of the lead nurturing strategy. The more involved sales are from the beginning, the better and more qualified leads will be throughout the entire funnel.
If you’re not sure where to start, take advantage of Digital Pi’s Assessment. We dig deep into your marketing technology stack to uncover areas for improvement and optimization throughout your lead lifecycle.