Having worked with many industrial sector companies, our agency has observed one challenge that stands above all others: The integration of marketing and sales. Although the success of both departments will be measured by their impact on the growth of the business, marketing and sales so often fail to align their goals and strategies. We have four theories on why this disconnect is so frequent.
Why the great marketing – sales divide exists
1. Sales professionals like to do things their own way
It’s no secret that sales professionals are a unique breed. For many, when something starts working, that by default becomes his or her way of doing it forever. And frankly, we can’t blame a successful sales professional for not seeking out new methods or embracing change. Why fix what’s not broken?
2. Lack of real marketing data until recent years
There was a time, even in the B2B world, when marketing was about targeting the masses with “push” advertising. You hired creatives to execute direct mail campaigns, printed trade journal ads, die cut brochures and flashy ads with catchy headlines. Then you’d hope the phones started ringing.
Today it’s a different world. As we explored in the previous section (Measuring industrial marketing success), marketers can’t hide behind subjective results when so much real data exists. But many organizations simply don’t realize how much valuable data marketing can bring to the table, and the direct effect that information can have on generating qualified leads. The end result? No one takes the marketing team seriously.
3. The two departments don’t know (or care) what the other does
You have your job to do. And so does the person down the hall. When the pressure is on to produce results, the last thing you need to worry about is how they’re spending their time.
4. Lack of accountability and direction from above
As a marketing agency, we’ve had the opportunity to look in from the outside of many manufacturing and industrial sector organizations. And the lack of accountability from those overseeing marketing and sales is often very apparent. More often than not, no one enforces the necessary marketing – sales integration that will produce growth for the company. Unfortunately, when the boss doesn’t buy in, it’s unlikely that anyone else will either.
How to close the divide
1. Open up dialogue and align your goals
The first thing to do is simple: Start talking. Agree to a sit-down with all key players on the marketing and sales teams. If you’re one of the marketers, come prepared to brief sales on the objectives of your new marketing strategy. Help sales understand that you’re in their corner and are setting out to produce a consistent stream of sales-qualified inbound leads.
Then listen. What does sales want to accomplish? What are their revenue targets? How many deals will they need to close to achieve those targets? How many sales-qualified leads will they need on the table to close that many deals?
2. Define together what “sales-qualified lead” means
Lots of website traffic and resulting leads are meaningless if they’re not qualified. Marketing must be responsible for understanding who sales needs to attract. Begin by asking the right questions:
- What types of people are involved in the buying process?
- What are their job titles?
- What do those people care most about?
- What are their pain points?
With a clear understanding of your sales team’s target prospect, the marketing team can execute more effective and targeted lead generation work. And with a clear understanding of what the marketing team has set out to accomplish, the sales team will be much more inclined to play a role in assisting the marketing team.
3. Put the right tools in place
Strong data will go a long way. So get the right measurement tools in place now. We covered this topic in detail in the previous section titled “Measuring industrial marketing success.” Install Google Analytics for measuring website traffic, its sources and engagement with specific content on the website. Use an inbound marketing software like HubSpot to begin gathering intelligence on specific leads that visit your site. Agree upon a CRM (customer relationship management) software platform that will be used consistently throughout the company to track the status of leads in the pipeline and the stage of deals that are in the works.
Getting any of these systems in place can require significant time investments themselves, but are critical in gathering the information that must be shared between marketing and sales.
4. Establish a WRITTEN process for sharing data
Both structure and consistency will be key in aligning marketing and sales. That’s why a documented process for sharing information is critical. Here’s an example of how such a process could work:
- At the end of the month, the head of the sales team compiles a sales report spreadsheet documenting all business that closed that month. Separate columns are created for the name of the company, the name of the customer contact(s) at that company and the revenue generated.
- This sales report spreadsheet is provided to marketing, who backfills the revenue data into the marketing software database so revenue can be traced back to the origination of corresponding leads. Now we can learn which leads were generated through marketing activities.
- The head of the marketing team compiles a separate lead generation report spreadsheet, documenting all leads generated that month.
- This lead generation report spreadsheet is provided to sales, who marks each lead as unqualified, maybe qualified or sales qualified. Sales then sends that spreadsheet back to marketing, who backfills that lead qualification data into the corresponding lead profiles in the inbound marketing software database. Now we can learn how many qualified leads were generated and what marketing activities played a role.
5. Schedule recurring marketing – sales team meetings
On a quarterly basis (minimum), the marketing and sales teams should sit down together (or use a screen share software like GoToMeeting or join.me) to do two things:
- Review a report from the marketing team. This report should document how many qualified leads were generated over the past quarter and who they were. And it should also document which marketing-generated leads closed as customers, how much revenue can be attributed to that pool of customers, how they originated and what marketing activities played a role in closing them.
- Continue the open dialogue. The sales team should use this meeting as an opportunity to provide feedback to marketing on which new leads and customers were most ideal and why. Marketing should use this as an opportunity to share any plans for refinement of the marketing strategy.
When all (or at least most) the this begins to happen, two company departments that once existed in their own separate silos will begin to operate as a cohesive business development unit with one ultimate goal in front of them: business growth.
Build a consistent inbound pipeline of qualified leads
Our Tactical Guide to Industrial Lead Generation will teach you how to attract, engage and convert ideal-fit prospects into real leads, move them into your sales funnel and measure results.