In this article, you'll learn...
- Seven best-practices that will help you align Sales and Marketing
- How to stimulate sales by having Sales and Marketing operate more efficiently
Sales and marketing best practices are universally desirable—but, too often, elusive.
Why? And more important, what sales and marketing processes are recognized as best-practices?
First—so that we share common ground in this discussion—I offer this definition of best-practices from the U.S. Government Accountability Office:
"The processes, practices, and systems identified in public and private organizations that performed exceptionally well and are widely recognized as improving an organization's performance and efficiency in specific areas."
We are all too familiar with the inverse: Sales and marketing processes don't perform; they are inefficient, and they waste resources and dollars. In most companies, such a lack of productivity is rooted in the lack of alignment between Sales and Marketing.
Take lead definition, for example:
- Marketing "leads" are high volumes of unqualified prospects that have raised their hands and expressed interest by responding to marketing initiatives. But Sales requires leads that meet specific criteria and deserve attention from highly compensated reps in the field.
- Prospect databases are not segmented and tested to ensure that marketing programs target only high-value prospects most likely to close. Marketing doesn't have the resources or skill sets to qualify and nurture hundreds and thousands of names in the prospect database.
- Overwhelmed by the volume of names, Marketing falls back on mostly reactive initiatives for "nurturing" until prospects self-qualify as worthy of Sales' attention. Sales reps do not have the incentive or time to contact prospects, assess their value, and work them as qualified opportunities.
- When there is Sales contact, it tends to be infrequent, brief, and haphazard, as sales reps move on if they don't find short-term opportunities.
- And when it comes time to measure success, Marketing points to hundreds and thousands of names delivered at a low cost-per-lead, while sales reps shake their heads wondering why the names they receive are called "leads."
- The result: Most prospect names end up languishing in what SiriusDecisions calls "lead purgatory," where they lie unattended—until they magically reappear months later as a closed deal for a competitor.
Following are seven sales and marketing best-practices that address these issues and contribute to the successful alignment of the two groups.
1. Agree on the definition of a lead
It sounds so simple, but Sales and Marketing define leads differently based on their respective self-interest. A consensus on what a lead is must spell out required components, such as decision-maker title and role, business pains, buying process, and the sense of urgency—expressed as a buying timeframe.