By Christelle Fraysse, CMO, Workbooks
Sometimes it’s like we can’t really see each other. Sales and marketing should work closely together, that’s always the ideal. But too often they seem to work in parallel, each ticking their own boxes and meeting their own KPIs, while missing out on the direct collaboration that would make both of them even more effective.
There are two main drivers for marketing and sales to work more closely together. In the first instance, this is the age of the customer. Consumers have more buying power, more autonomy and more access to information than ever before. No-one needs to rely on a sales pitch anymore – they can research online and find a wealth of information about a product or a service, from marketing messages to real-life reviews.
In the B2B world, it’s the same. You might have a handful of people participating in the buying process, each doing their own research, consulting review sites to see what previous clients are saying about you – and your competitors. In fact, prospects typically spend a large proportion of their buyer’s journey in the ‘care’ of the marketing team, long before sales is involved or even aware of them.
The second driver is measurement. Every business looking for growth wants to optimise their marketing and sales ROI. We do this by learning from past successes and mistakes to tweak the route to market, the messaging, the reach of our communications. But since sales and marketing are both part of the same funnel, we need to understand what works and what doesn’t end-to-end and where each team should focus their time and effort for maximum outcomes.
The fact is that the buying path is less clear or straightforward than it’s ever been. To ensure a seamless, coherent and value-added customer journey, you need transparency between sales and marketing so that each team can step in and out of the process, with the knowledge of the journey to date.
So to really make the most of that symbiotic relationship, we need to make sure that sales and marketing have a clear understanding of what the other is doing, and how each works. To do that, occasional meetings aren’t enough, we need help from technology, to track, measure and connect.
Central to the technology stack is CRM. Sales should spend their lives in the customer relationship management system as it provides them with a central repository, contact management, segmentation and tracking for all sales and marketing activities. The CRM should also be able to automatically capture leads from the company website, link in with marketing automation technology to allow seamless campaigns, track engagement and much more.
Each tool needs to be able to talk to each other. And not just superficially, sitting next to each other in silos. They need to be fully integrated so that each team has full end-to-end tracking and monitoring of what is going on in your entire demand funnel. They need up-to-date, real-time information at their fingertips that’s easily accessible, anytime, by the right people.
So your sales team gets unfettered access to real-time lead information from marketing, supplementing the data already in your CRM. Sales reps can receive real-time alerts when new online activities have been triggered by one of their leads or key account – so they get the information when they need it most.
Meanwhile, your marketing team can use closed-loop reporting to track leads through the conversion process and attribute revenue against their campaign efforts.
Best use of data
In today’s technology-driven world, it isn’t difficult to acquire data – the trick is in finding the best ways to use it.
In a truly collaborative framework, data that’s collected and stored centrally can be used in real time as well as compiled into reports and dashboards. The reports and dashboards can be used as a basis for regular meetings between sales and marketing to review core KPIs eg people below the threshold (if you are using lead scoring), MQLs, SQLs, conversion through the sales cycle, outstanding follow-ups by sales, pipeline growth or lost.
With full transparency and communication between both departments, the effectiveness of each is enhanced. Sales have a better view of prospects while they’re in the care of marketing, so they can pick the right time to reach out. Marketing has a better view of how effective their efforts have been, which in turn helps greatly with future planning and budgeting. It can only be a win-win for business.
Together, they’re so much more than the sum of their parts. They complement each other in a way nothing else can. By breaking down the barriers between marketing and sales and thinking about the revenue funnel as one unique integrated framework, both teams can work together at the same time, each sometimes being in the driving seat, sometimes not.
Cleaning the windows
Visibility creates an atmosphere in which collaboration can thrive, cleaning the windows that normally separate your teams. It allows your sales and marketing to:
- Create a common understanding of what it takes for a lead to become an opportunity
- Create mutual respect for the contribution of each team in driving revenue
- Help drive better decision making on what to do next with a particular lead and enable the teams to work together
- Develop a common view and responsibility for performance metrics (KPIs) throughout the entire funnel.
A culture of transparency, once established, soon becomes the new norm. Enabled by technology, the ambition can become a reality.