By Daniel Heck, Senior Director of Marketing, EMEA at SugarCRM

To outsiders, sales and marketing teams are often seen as one aligned unit; two teams working simultaneously towards one common goal. However, the reality rarely lives up to the perception. There are actually significant gaps in terms of how companies manage the process of turning a prospect into a qualified lead, and passing that lead successfully to the right sales rep.

While many factors come into play that can cause sales and marketing divisions, there are a few simple rules that every business should follow to get sales and marketing teams working in sync. By aligning both teams, businesses will maximise the potential revenue from each qualified lead.

1) Define terminology

First things first, sales and marketing must agree on terminology. A qualified lead can mean very different things to each party. While many marketing organisations are measured on metrics such as lead volume, it’s the quality of leads that matters most for sales. This difference in definition often results in miscommunication between the two departments, which can create a vicious circle of frustration.

By agreeing on definitions for the terminology used, sales and marketing staff can come to common terms around lead status. Holding a joint team meeting to define exactly what is meant by a lead, a qualified lead and a highly qualified lead will help both teams to manage their expectations and adapt their conversation with the customer accordingly.

2) Use data from sales to improve lead quality

Buyers today have greater choice and access to more information than ever before. But marketing and sales teams can use information to their advantage too. It is important for marketing to both capture post-conversion behaviour in addition to demographic and other telling data points. By creating a rich set of data after the lead is qualified, marketing can learn even more about what makes some leads more likely to close, and refine and re-tune marketing efforts to increase effectiveness and reduce overall spend, driving ROI and revenue.

It takes some courage to deliver fewer, higher quality leads, but with good lead targeting, sales goals can be met more efficiently. Everybody wins when pipeline waste is reduced and reps go after only truly qualified leads.

3) Integrate marketing and sales tools

When performing CRM deployments at even the most sophisticated organisations, we’re often surprised by the lack of cohesion between the tools generating leads and the software used by sales reps every day to close those leads. Fortunately, integration technologies and the design of modern software tools today make it easier than ever to create tight-knit, bi-directional integration. These allow marketing teams to better nurture and re-nurture leads that take time to close, and give sales better insights into the behaviour and information gathering lead go through before engaging in a sales interaction.

Better-aligned sales and marketing teams produce better results, and following these three tips will get them working cohesively. Having shared goals, well thought out processes and the right technology in place will put you on the winning streak when it comes to converting marketing leads into concrete sales.