Today a company’s senior leadership—just like the rest of the company—most often views Sales and Marketing as completely separate units. Sales and Marketing themselves also see themselves this way, and can engage in an endless blame game back and forth over lead quality. Marketing asserts that the sales force isn’t following up the leads being sent over; sales claims many of the leads aren’t of high enough quality and aren’t worth following up.
Changes within a company take place starting at the top, at the CEO or COO level. If a company is to survive in the lightning-fast and fiercely competitive 21st century business environment, senior executives need to begin viewing sales and marketing as a more cohesive whole, rather than separate departments.
Separate Factions with the Same Goal
While Marketing and Sales have considerably different approaches, they both have the same goal: to secure ever-increasing business for their company. Marketing is responsible for creating interest in the company’s products or services, thereby inspiring leads to come through the door. Sales then takes those leads, further qualifies them, and takes them through the remainder of the sales process to a close.
In that Sales and Marketing are actually part of the same overall team (the company), their lack of coordination actually impedes that team. Imagine if you will a football team in which the quarterback, halfback, and receivers are operating independently from the linemen and fullback. The guys responsible for moving the ball forward are clearly not coordinating with their teammates who are responsible for blocking the opposing team. It becomes a hit or miss situation in which the opposing players may not be blocked in the right places—simply because the guys who are supposed to be blocking aren’t informed of the play and don’t know where to block. That’s not a team that would last very long, is it? And of course no coach would ever allow this to happen.
Because a business is not out on a field visible for everyone to see, it may not be as obvious—but when Sales and Marketing are out of accord, a very similar lack of progress occurs. For a company the result is hampered sales, and leads (potential sales and income) that factually get wasted. All of this has a consistent impact on a company’s bottom line.
Not to stretch the football analogy too far, but it is time for us coaches (senior executives) to take a hand in solving this continual breach.
Bringing Them Together
Within my company Pipeliner Sales, we have from the beginning made a point of having Sales and Marketing in full accord. They are both operating on the same overall strategy, evolved in cooperation. If there is a problem with leads, Marketing immediately meets with Sales so that together they can address the issue. Marketing comes away with a firm idea of how to obtain better leads, and Sales often has ideas of how they can better utilize the leads they are getting.
It begins with an understanding and agreement between Sales and Marketing on what exactly constitutes a qualified lead—for right there is where the two groups generally disagree. Get them together and get them to agree on what a qualified lead is. Take a look at the leads coming in, and group them according to their qualification level. They will generally fall into categories such as raw leads, warm leads and hot leads—your company will no doubt have their own kind of categorization.
From there, you can evolve strategies and procedures to address those leads that aren’t totally “hot” and ready to buy; the “hot leads” are the only ones Sales really wants. The colder leads can be put on a drip marketing campaign, or can be shunted over to a team of Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) to work until they are hot, or both. This then solves the leads that have dropped into the “black hole” that previously existed between Sales and Marketing.
The result is a unified whole that operates, moves forward and—most importantly—succeeds. It all begins at the top: start viewing Sales and Marketing as two parts of the same team, and start winning a lot more games.