The relationship between sales and marketing teams is usually strained, at best. It varies and like most things in business there are peaks and troughs in how the two teams rub along together, especially if you have no marketing automation in place.
I’m sure we’ve all heard the familiar cries of “it’s marketing’s fault, the lead was rubbish”, “sales just didn’t follow up on those leads we sent them”, “the CRM system hasn’t been updated” and so on.
But with all the excuses and arguments, there’s a fundamental issue that needs to be resolved. Buyer behaviour has changed and so too must the behaviour of the sales and marketing teams. They need to work together to agree objectives, process, a common language and ‘service levels’. Without these in place, the continual finger pointing and antagonism will continue and revenue growth just won’t happen.
The typical mistakes we often see are:
1) The lead is passed to sales too early
Your campaign has brought in results, you’re seeing leads in the CRM system, they have been assigned to the sales team, but all you hear are complaints about the lead not being ready for sales.
A review of your process for lead generation might be helpful at this point. Identifying what constitutes a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and a Sales Accepted Lead (SAL); agreeing and setting milestones for the handover of a lead from marketing to sales, and defining who owns the lead at what point in the ‘funnel’ and what to do if the sales team has any issues.
2) The lead isn’t qualified and is then rejected
One of the most frustrating things for your sales and marketing team is that a lead doesn’t ‘qualify’ in the eyes of the sales manager. After deciding it isn’t qualified, he rejects it and closes it down in the CRM system; marking it lost or closed.
It’s much better to have an agreed set of criteria for lead qualification; lead scoring or a lead grading system that will enable your sales team to make the most of every lead presented to them and will ensure follow-ups in a timely manner. Rejecting a lead or closing the lead in the system should also have a process associated with it to ensure that your investment in producing the lead isn’t lost.
3) Marketing hands over the lead and walks away
You’ve invested time and money in campaigns to generate interest and leads for the sales team and once they are in the system, you wash your hands of them? Wrong. You have a vested interest in making sure that your lead moves through the sales funnel from prospect to opportunity and hopefully, to closed business. You need to know what the progress is, what stage the lead is at and to understand the length of time it is taking for the lead to move on. By understanding all of these elements, you will be able to refine your programs and campaigns, speed them up, refine your persona definitions and buying behaviours.
4) No rejection reasons given
Once a campaign is in full swing and there is a lot of activity going on, the marketing team will be looking to the sales team for information and details about whether leads are progressing to opportunity and if not, why not. Taking time to fill out the CRM system with rejection reasons can be a bit of a burden to a busy sales manager, so it’s important to agree upfront how to make this information easy to capture.
Working closely with the sales team to establish the processes and ownership of lead generation should include what to do when it goes wrong. Or when a prospect falls out of the cycle. It could happen at any stage from initial contact to opportunity and beyond. In the agreement of service levels between sales and marketing, lead rejection reasons should be defined, so that the investment isn’t lost. In most cases, the lead can come back into a marketing program to nurture leads.
5) Responding too slowly (or too quickly!)
Generating leads, following up, logging progress and measuring results are all part and parcel of what sales and marketing teams deal with on day to day basis. Timing is crucial for some lead follow-ups, as is the timely delivery of feedback to marketing.
How soon a lead is picked up and followed-up has no hard and fast rule associated with it. Marketing and sales should agree up front, as part of their process, what timings make sense. Usually the sooner the better, but in some cases, where the prospect has specified a timescale for follow up, that should be respected.
Levelling the playing field between sales and marketing needn’t turn your office into major construction site, but it will require some investment of time and effort and agreement(!) on a plan to move forward. If you need a helping hand to get started, give us a shout. We’re happy to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in.