Operational challenge. Organizational nightmare. Many companies have tried and few have succeeded to mend the divide between sales and marketing. I have been fortunate to work on both the sales and marketing sides — as a rep with a quota, a sales director, a digital marketing consultant, a manager of demand generation and now in growth for a SaaS company. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of how organizations approach the success of these two departments.
In almost all cases, the sales dialogue is that there are not enough sales-ready leads, and marketing is not about to turn up the spigot to account for sales’ inability to close deals. The blame game begins.
As I have switched teams over the years, I think back on my sales days and can’t help but wonder if marketing has it wrong. When contemplating my own experience, stories from peers and articles I’ve read, I am more confident than ever saying that marketing has some work to do.
Here is a simple three-point analysis of why marketing has more ownership on this than it thinks:
A sales funnel is bi-directional.
Leads go into the top and flow all the way to the bottom, right? Not so fast. Leads go in, few are qualified and even fewer become revenue. Teams may even have their sales funnel targets down to a science, e.g., « We need 100 leads to hit our monthly revenue goal. »
The best sales teams know how to reverse the funnel and work their way backward to determine how many sales leads they need to hit their quota. But what about the leads that don’t make it through? Are those lost opportunities?
Marketing has a chance to rebound and recover leads when a CRM status field changes, for instance, but few teams do. This is now a lead management problem and the ball is back in marketing’s court (read more about this process here).
This breakdown occurs because:
• Marketing is focused on filling the top of the pipeline.
• Marketing has no visibility into the CRM to recover leads when a lead’s status changes.
• Marketing doesn’t have a good process in place to nurture leads that aren’t ready to buy.
To mend a leaky sales funnel, marketing can recover leads from the CRM every time a status field changes in the lead or contact record. If you don’t have a marketing automation tool to integrate with, then simply export leads from the CRM on a weekly or monthly basis. The goal is to get started on rebound and get off the blame game train.
Marketing is the demand engine of the organization.
This is simple enough: Marketing drives brand initiatives forward and generates leads for sales, but sometimes that lead engine needs a tune up. Many marketers don’t understand the sales process well enough to know if a lead is qualified or not, and that’s where the breakdown begins.
Tips to improve:
• Define a sales qualified lead (SQL) together between marketing and sales.
• Ensure both teams have full visibility into the sales pipeline through a CRM or other means.
• Define lead volume by number of qualified leads as opposed to total leads.
Marketing needs to take more ownership of the sales process: They need to sit in on sales calls, read notes in CRM records, ask questions to sales team members and just get involved. The more visibility and communication that marketing initiates, the better sales becomes.
At the end of the day leads aren’t qualified if they don’t generate revenue.
Marketing does not align its KPIs with sales.
Misalignment with KPIs between sales and marketing is the single largest contributor to dysfunction. Marketing is lead happy while sales is revenue happy. Marketing is usually measured by how many leads it’s driving, and sales is compensated by how much revenue is contributed. Without having the same target, how does either team hit the same bull’s eye?
If teams share a revenue goal, sales and marketing will have the same measure of success. When the focus is on revenue generation as opposed to lead generation, marketing becomes incentivized to align.
Marketing leaders, this is on you: Modify your KPIs to align with what sales has always been measuring.