Being a salesperson at a digital marketing agency, I’m constantly straddling the fence between sales and marketing. After all, we help our clients align their digital footprint in a way that not only drives traffic to their website but more importantly, we design and structure those websites, landing pages, and assets in ways that maximizes conversions. Visitors convert into leads, and those leads then need to be qualified and nurtured along the buyer's journey until they become customers.
Of course, this is also a process we manage for ourselves here at Fielday. Not surprisingly, as the Director of Business Development, do you know who likes warm leads that further the sales-cycle?
That's right, I do! I’m sure your sales team does too.
According to this study from Lattice Engines, 68% of companies struggle with lead generation, and the blame tends to fall on marketing for not providing enough quality leads. The same study shows that in many organizations, marketing only provides 30% of overall leads, leaving sales to make up the other 70%.
As a salesperson who's well-steeped in both inbound marketing and lead generation, I help our team manage the process internally. Similarly, I show my clients and prospects how they can use the same methodology to generate warm leads and revenue for their sales teams.
I'm in sales and marketing. I'm a Smarketer!
I promise you, I'm not trying to start this blog post off like a student writing an essay for which he's done little research. However, I think in this case a definition is in order.
Wikipedia defines Smarketing as "The process of integrating the sales and marketing processes of a business. The objective is for the sales and marketing functions to have a common integrated approach. This can lead to annual revenue growth of up to 20%, according to a study in 2010. The objective is to promote the product or service to potential buyers and at the same time integrate this process with the sales department's activities. Sales and marketing departments should meet frequently and agree on a common terminology, and using data throughout the entire sales and marketing process to identify good prospects and to follow up on how well they are followed up. Smarketing works best when a firm does closed loop reporting by tracking its success with particular prospects from the marketing stage through direct sales efforts."
As far as the above definition is concerned, I absolutely agree that anyone who oversees sales or business development at a B2B company should be deeply vested in the lead generation methodology of the marketing department. It's a key driver of revenue. And if it’s not, it should be. The very nature of being, or becoming a Smarketer involves bridging the gap between sales and marketing. Bridging that gap is what Smarketers do!
Below are 3 tips that will help you begin to build that bridge:
1. Get the Sales and Marketing Teams on the same page, literally.
Yes, it may seem obvious, but the sales and marketing teams need to get together, both figuratively and literally. Traditionally, this has been a challenge, largely because of the old-school perception held that sales owns the customer relationship and that marketing shouldn't be engaging with buyers. This is an antiquated approach and one that should be abandoned. Sales and marketing, working in tandem, is critical to the success of marketing and lead generation.
Meet frequently, weekly or bi-weekly, to discuss lead quantity, quality, and what channels are producing the best leads. Even if you're using lead scoring, marketing automation, or lead nurturing software, it's important to get together in the same room and look each other in the eye. Discuss wins and losses, encourage collaboration, and foster new ideas that might improve both the marketing and sales funnels. Agree on a One-Page report that can be reviewed at these meetings to assure the same KPI's are being measured week over week, month over month, and year over year.
Also, don't be afraid to make it fun. When's the last time you had an off-site team building event with the sales and marketing teams? Maybe never.
2. Create Buyer Personas as a Team.
This is a great lead-off activity for sales and marketing as they begin to work together. Whether you call them Buyer Personas, Marketing Personas or Customer Profiles, the definition is the same. These are “semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on market research and real data about your existing customers. When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals."
Sales is in a unique position to understand the demographics, motivations, and psychology of prospective clients. Also, they’re familiar with things like what job titles should be targeted, how value propositions should be articulated, and how objections are overcome. Creating detailed semi-fictional representations of your target audience, with the input of both teams, will allow the marketing folks to turn out higher quality content. All the content you create going forward will be informed on the creation of these personas
3. Create Content as a Team
If you're in charge of lead generation for the marketing department at a B2B company, hopefully your team is creating content (white papers, E-books, case studies, how-to guides, infographics, blog posts etc.). It’s one of the main drivers of organic revenue growth. In accordance with the above approach, try getting both teams together when brainstorming that next piece of content.
One of the best ways to increase the demand for your content, in whatever form it takes, is by making sure it answers the kinds of questions, challenges, and concerns your salespeople are hearing from customers and prospects daily.
In pursuit of this goal, sales and marketing should be working together on the creation of that content. Salespeople are a great source of knowledge in this regard, since they are in the trenches every day having conversations with prospects at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
The above suggestions are only meant as a jumping-off point. The goal of which is, not only to build camaraderie, but to instill a deeper level of transparency into the efforts of each team. When marketing better understands the challenges of sales, they can create more actionable content, which should yield more high quality leads. Similarly, when the sales team has greater insight into the science and methodology of lead generation, as well as content creation, they can provide better feedback and take part in the process in a substantive way.