Sales and Marketing are ultimately judged on the same metric, but they act on different timelines. Sales focuses on the short term as it races to meet monthly and quarterly quotas. Marketing has a slightly longer term, nurturing prospects into Sales-ready leads.

Despite their different outlooks, Marketing and Sales can forge more profitable relationships by creating a two-way flow of information.

Here's how marketing automation (along with an old-school method) can sync Marketing and Sales to drive revenues.

Deliver as much data as possible

The first stage in collaborating with Sales: track the heck out of your prospects with marketing and CRM systems.

Every email opened. Every page a prospect looks at. Every guide downloaded. Deliver every crumb of information about prospects to Sales so sales reps can see the entire progression of the lead.

By knowing whether a prospect is hot on the trail of one offering and cooler on others, the sales rep can customize a pitch to that specific customer's wants, needs, and interests.

Don't just tip a wheelbarrow of data onto their desks, though. Data is important, but insights are gold. Enable Sales to perform better by providing context for the data. Include a summary of pain points that prospects have, and provide the best positioning options (qualification questions, supporting content, and other resources).

Timeliness is also essential. If Marketing sees engagement from someone or multiple people from the same company, the sales department should know so that it can act quickly. Sales reps who follow up a Web lead within five minutes are 21 times more likely to get the lead entered into the sales process than if they follow up after 30 minutes.

Score activity and contact

Lead scoring automatically rates prospects based on an activity score and a contact score. The more points prospects rack up, the more qualified they are to meet the sales team.

An activity score adds or subtracts points based on a prospect's actions. If a prospect downloads a whitepaper, her lead score will rise and she will move closer to meeting with Sales. If a prospect receives but doesn't open several recent emails, his score drops as his inaction indicates a lack of interest.

A contact score considers factors about who has engaged your business, such as whether the prospect is male or female, from the East or West Coast, a representative from a small or large business, and more.

For example, you can target prospects by their title. B2B companies selling higher-priced products often find their best prospects are higher-ups or people with "director" or "vice-president" in their title.

When a VP or director engages with that B2B company, her lead score will rise. In the case of an intern who downloads a whitepaper, on the other hand, the lead score will likely drop because interns lack the authority to make purchasing decisions.

Summarize the information in a way that allows Sales to better see who prospect are, what actions they've taken, and which pain points afflict them that your product or service can resolve.

Have metrics reach all the way to Sales

Show me a marketing department that looks only at cost per lead, and I'll show you a marketing department that is wasting money. Marketing needs to see what works for Sales if it is to invest wisely.

Metrics such as cost per opportunity and cost per win allow the marketing department to get a clearer view of what it should continue doing and what it should ditch.

Calculating cost per opportunity and cost per win requires the sales department to share information it already uses. The same metrics that inform Sales—whether its team will make a quota or have enough leads—can have significant value to marketers, though they'll view it under a different lens.

Marketing can take a more macro look at the data that Sales uses to gauge interest levels in particular verticals or product categories. Understanding where the business receives the most interest informs what marketing strategies to employ, especially for content creation.

Don't rely solely on digital

As someone who has worked in software and automation for the last 20 years, it may sound weird for me to say this... but the most important part of sales and marketing alignment is face-to-face communication.

For some groups, quick and casual face-to-face hallway conversations work well. For large businesses, including those with multiple offices, try a focus group.

As a marketer, gather a dozen or so sales reps and pick their brains about why they have won, what changes they see in the marketplace, and which marketing tactics work best.

And, just as you learn from Sales, Sales should learn from you. They need to know just as much about messaging, campaigns, and tactics as the marketing team. Knowing about an email campaign ahead of time, for example, prepares Sales to engage with prospects based on what initially attracted them to the company.

It's a new sales-marketing world

Marketing and Sales are truly in a transformative period, thanks to the advent of marketing automation technology. The departments can collect, extract, and make use of more relevant information than ever before, and the race is on.

Companies that master collecting, analyzing, and sharing data from marketing automation and CRM systems, as well gathering offline insights, will become more efficient, more profitable, and more likely to become leaders within their industry.

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Automation: How Marketing Can Sync With Sales

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image of You Mon Tsang

You Mon Tsang is CMO at Vocus. Prior to Vocus, Tsang was CEO of Engine140, a company Vocus acquired and integrated into its product portfolio.

LinkedIn: You Mon Tsang

Twitter: @youmon