In lead generation marketing, the client’s sales team can be marketing’s best friend or its worst enemy. It all depends on how the marketing agency or marketing freelancer handles the relationship.
Marketing Success Hinges on Sales Execution
Even if marketing delivers breathtaking results in online sales lead production, if those leads don’t turn into sales, eventually management will pull the plug on its Internet marketing campaign.
When new business production falters, companies with strained relationships between sales and marketing play the blame game. Sales says the website leads are no good. Marketing says the sales team isn’t delivering the right pitch. Et cetera.
In my 30+ years of sales and marketing experience, I’ve never seen the blame game spark improvement; it just makes everybody feel worse about a bad situation.
However, when sales and marketing teams respond by saying, “Hey, let’s roll up our sleeves and work together on this,” there’s no stopping the improvements they can make. Here are the key items that sales and marketing teams should review — not just when results are lagging, but all the time.
Aligning Value Propositions
Here’s an enlightening exercise you can easily run: Have representatives from your marketing and sales teams get together and write down their “elevator speech” for your key products, services and company. Do they match? Are they all over the board? If so, it’s likely that your prospects are being hit with mixed (or even contradictory) messages as they go through the conversion funnel and sales follow-up. If that’s happening, good prospects will become confused and/or skeptical. Sales lost.
Refining Calls to Action
Do the calls to action in your PPC, retargeting and email campaigns match with what the sales team sees as the strongest ones to generate new business? Is the sales team aware of which online marketing calls to action are most and least effective?
It could be your marketing team or your sales team is using the wrong calls to action, when better alternatives are right under everyone’s nose if only departments would talk to each other.
Beyond this, when sales and marketing teams brainstorm new calls to action, magic happens — especially when you bring good sales reps into the discussion. Reps, who work in the trenches, often know better than anyone which carrots are the tastiest.
Quality Control in the Lead Handoff
Marketers like to focus on campaign strategy, creative excellence and analytics precision. Sales teams like to focus on technique, process and performance versus goal. All of these are important and complex. However, what cannot be overlooked is the transition from landing a website conversion to getting the lead into the hands of the sales team. There are so many ways this can go wrong:
Form submissions are not acknowledged, so the prospect is unsure whether the inquiry has been received.
Slow follow-up from sales on a phone or form conversion. This is going to turn off 90 percent of prospects, and expectations for follow-up speed are increasing by the nanosecond.
Fumbling of the initial phone inquiry because the person on the company side is not properly trained, the phone system is overloaded, or some other fly in the ointment.
Email follow-ups that are too pushy, too vague or not relevant to the prospect’s inquiry. Again, there can be any number of causes behind this, including inquiry form fields that are too vague, and content created by writers who don’t understand the basic techniques of persuasive sales copywriting.
A CRM system that buckets prospects incorrectly, or allows good prospects to fall through the cracks.
Failing to validate sales leads causes all sorts of sales-stifling problems. We’ve written about lead validation extensively, because in our minds it is arguably the most important step in online lead generation marketing. If you want to get a solid grasp of the issues — and make dramatic strides in marketing effectiveness — check out this slide presentation by our COO. It’s an eye-opener.
Make Cross-Training Part of the Routine
Getting marketers out in the field with sales reps is THE best training you can give them — whether you’re doing it with in-house, agency or freelance personnel. When marketers hear the conversations on initial, follow-up and closing sales calls, they learn not only the important selling points, but also the language of the business. Marketers cannot create credible content unless they understand the language.
On the flip side, get sales people involved with marketing discussions about strategy, campaign tactics/testing results, and website CRO and UX issues. Doing this gives sales people more confidence in what marketing is up to, gives marketers fresh ideas, and most important, prevents marketing from developing campaigns in an ivory tower.
Over to You
What techniques have you used to bring sales and marketing teams together?