We’ve talked at length on this blog about why you need to create and cultivate a strong link between sales and marketing in your business. We will continue to bang out on about it until we’re blue in the face, because it’s a vital part of driving a great marketing strategy that actually delivers return.
What we might’ve only touched on is how you do this – what are the techniques, tools and tricks of the trade you’ll need to make the relationship between your sales and marketing team as organic and effortless as the one between Monica and Chandler – not forced and doomed to fail like the one between Rachel and Joey. Phew – don’t get me started. Let’s move on.
Here’s how to create a beautiful relationship and a joined-up sales and marketing approach.
Step 1 – Communication
Like any good relationship – creating this joined up approach begins with communication. It’s time to move beyond the quick emails into sales “Hi all, FYI, we’re doing this thing this week. Just wanted to let you know! Love, Marketing. X”. It’s time for the two departments to actually listen to and learn from each other – to be jointly involved in planning campaigns and deciding on focus. Marketing can learn from sales what customers are responding best to, whether the proposition is right, and whether they’re targeting the right sectors or personas. Sales can lean on marketing for support with follow-up collateral, creating consistent messaging, and most importantly, providing the most engaged contacts and leads to prioritise. None of this can be achieved without the proper communication channels. How you achieve this is up to you and what works best for your business – maybe you use a collaboration tool like Slack or Teams, email, or good ol’ fashioned face-to-face meetings – but always remember, communication is key.
Step 2 – Nail the process
Once you’ve got everyone talking, it’s time to point them in the right direction. It’s all very well good opening up those lines of communication and making plans, but you need the processes to support them. Without a defined process, you can’t hope to stick to the plan, and communication will breakdown again. Typically, the most important process you need to nail is the one which dictates when and how leads are passed from marketing to sales, and what the next steps should be. I’ve covered this in more detail here, but I’ll give a quick overview. The lead hand-off process may very well differ from campaign to campaign depending on the marketing touch points and the proposition, but for best results, you should have a standard operating procedure to work from. More and more often this is coming in the form of lead scoring – marketing and sales agree on a point threshold for when a lead is “engaged”, as well as the number of points to assign to each activity (e.g. web page visit = 2 points). Marketing then put in place the workflows which will award points to a contact for each activity, pointing to some sort of action or activity to alert sales when they reach that tipping point.
Step 3 – Pick the right tools
Once you’ve adjusted your mindset and decided on processes – it’s time to ensure that you have the tools you need to make these processes seamless and effortless. If something is too difficult or clunky in the link between sales and marketing, it’ll very quickly fall apart. Implementing the right tools can you help you avoid this. Most often when we talk about sales and marketing and the tools they use, we think of CRM and email platforms or marketing automation. These are very powerful stand alone tools that are the lifeblood of their respective departments, but they need to work seamlessly together to enable the joined up approach. Some providers, such as HubSpot or ActiveCampaign, offer both CRM and marketing automation functionality under one roof – which can be a great way to bring everyone into the same ecosystem. That’s great if you’re starting out, but in most businesses we find they’re already operating on different systems, and to move a department from one to the other would not be feasible. This is where integration comes in. Some popular CRM and marketing automation platforms integrate natively, but others will need a middleman. Zapier is an integration tool that creates a neat link between most tier 1 and tier 2 software products – and it’s so easy to use too.
Step 4 – Follow-up
It can be very tempting during a sales and marketing initiative for each department to “close off” once they’re bit is done. Marketing pass over leads to sales – job done. Sales follow-up on them – job done. Hmm, not quite. To truly create a great sales and marketing approach, you need that feedback loop. Are the leads marketing are passing over qualified enough? Should the lead scoring be adjusted? Is the sales follow-up timed well? Are they asking the right questions? The open and honest communication between sales and marketing needs to be maintained and follow-up on every campaign carried out in order to ensure the success of any campaigns going forward.
Creating a truly joined up sales and marketing approach takes time and commitment to make work – but if you follow the steps laid out in this blog post, you’ve got a blueprint for success. If you’d like further help or guidance on how to get sales and marketing together – get in touch. We’ve worked with sales teams in-house and within clients to bring them into the marketing fold.