For many businesses, the common goal is to achieve sales, but there’s also an age-old issue of just how those leads reach the sales team.
For example, B2B marketing teams will run campaigns to support the sales pipeline and as such, feed more leads into their pipeline. However, it’s very common that the marketing and sales teams will operate in silos and their objectives are not aligned.
The issue often arises as the marketing or demand generation teams are given a lead target, whereas the sales team has a revenue target. Organisations often ignore how effectively the batten is passed on from marketing to sales. This is itself can cause frustration, and ultimately cost the organisation to lose the race.
Just how can you ensure sales and marketing processes are aligned and no leads leak out of the pipeline?
For one of Predictable Marketing clients, a marketing and sales alignment was a big challenge. Although we were generating 50-70 qualified leads in a month for them, the sales team were complaining that marketing wasn’t supporting their pipeline.
So, what were the answers to really streamline the lead handling process?
Firstly, we tightened the qualification criteria for what a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) actually looked like. The client runs predominantly account-based campaigns, so it was slightly easier to filter the MQLs.
It was agreed that to define an MQL, the leads should be working in the target list of companies, the sales team would speak to set job titles to differentiate their contacts, and thirdly, the level of engagement with marketing material was agreed using a custom scoring plan on HubSpot – for example someone who filled in a contact form was scored a 10 and for someone who downloaded something from the website was scored a 2.
When all three criteria were met and a lead scoring threshold was reached, the lead was passed onto the sales team, giving them a strong prospect to talk to.
TOP TIP: Agree with sales what good leads look like and develop a lead scoring plan. Lead scoring can be used to determine the strong prospects from the weak, which is great because passing over a colder lead can be frustrating for sales.
This also ensures marketing and sales focus on the appropriate accounts. For sales, quality is more important than quantity and that should reflect in the marketing-sales targets so that both teams are aligned to the same overall goal.
Once our client knew they had leads to pass to sales, it was our job to create a robust lead handover process that would be clearly communicated to all sales and marketing team members.
The client kept it simple: For example, a ‘Contact Us form’ should be contacted by sales in 24 hours and sales need to contact the MQLs passed to them within 48 hours of the lead being allocated to them and qualify it.
From this process, it meant the lead would move to the SQL stage, and disqualify or park the lead for further qualification. The client also utilised our automation tools to notify both teams of any pending actions so no lead was left unattended.
TOP TIP: Leverage the power of marketing automation tools such as HubSpot or Salesforce to govern the process flow. If possible, we recommend appointing a single point of contact or a governor of the whole process who the sales or marketing team members can reach out to in case they have any issues.
Make time for regular catch-up calls between the sales and marketing teams. These are essential as they create a feedback loop for both teams and help in aligning their goals together.
Finally, we enabled the client to be conversation ready. Simple right? But the sales team for this client solely relied on sales networking to generate leads and hence picking up any inbound leads and nurturing it to conversion was something new to them.
We gave the client’s sales team one-to-one training sessions, and handholding them through their first few follow-ups. We stressed on the timing of the follow-up, whether to call or email and also gave them guidance on the tone of voice of emails. This increased the number of leads that were converted from an MQL to a sales opportunity.
It worked wonders and increased the number of leads that were converted from an MQL to a sales opportunity.
TOP TIP: Get your sales team conversation ready. Whether it’s training them on when or how to follow -up or nurture or providing them with the pre-sales support, marketing presentations, case studies – get them ready to convert an opportunity to sales as soon as they get some time with a prospect.