Marketing and sales alignment—or in many cases, lack of alignment—seems to be an age-old challenge. One of my first eye-opening experiences in B2B lead generation occurred when I was working as a teleprospector supporting a Fortune 500 company.
I was tasked with uncovering and qualifying leads for the sales organization. In doing so, I would frequently gain input from sales regarding the leads, messaging, etc. My eye-opening moment occurred when I met with the marketing manager after the launch of the tele-campaign. She asked my opinion on future campaigns, effective messaging, targeting, etc. I was thrilled to be included in this discussion, but I wondered if she was also asking the sales team for their insight. After all, they’re the end-users of the leads derived from her campaigns.
To my shock, she had not—and in fact, she wasn’t quite sure who to approach within her own sales organization to gain feedback. How was it possible that these two departments, which are so clearly linked, had not communicated?
Flash forward nearly two decades, and this communication problem between marketing and sales departments persists. In fact, a 2011 survey of business marketers shows that relationships between marketing and sales are even deteriorating. Furthermore, the survey data confirms a positive correlation between having a close marketing and sales alignment, and achieving satisfactory lead generation results.
Building a close relationship with the sales organization is something that marketers should invest time in.
Here are three ways to help bridge the gap and improve communication, particularly relating to teleprospecting efforts:
Jointly Define Success
As a marketing manager, your end users are your sales representatives. Before a lead generation initiative launches, it’s critical to meet with sales management to jointly determine the criteria for qualified leads. Once this definition is established, it should be clearly documented and communicated to your entire sales organization.
Gain Sales Input During Campaign Development
Designate key sales members to participate in the pre-campaign due diligence process. There is extreme value in obtaining Sales’ input on such critical components as objection handling, competitive positioning, etc. There’s no replacing the knowledge gained from interviewing your “feet on the street.” By engaging your sales team at this stage, your program will be more successful and you’ll likely achieve a higher “buy-in” rate among your sales reps.
Conduct Regular Feedback Sessions
Establish a regularly occurring conference call with members of your sales, marketing and teleprospecting teams to discuss leads, as well as any factors that may impact the lead parameters or approach. Set a specific agenda for each meeting, and communicate it in advance. Though this type of meeting can seem overwhelming for large organizations, you can make it manageable by designating regional sales managers on a rotating basis to participate. This keeps participation intimate while also achieving a wide range of feedback.
Close relationships are not forged without verbal interaction. Each of the above recommendations requires discussion and input, which cannot be accomplished through email and systems. At the very least, call one of your sales counterparts today and ask for their input. You’ll be amazed at the positive impact it will have on your lead generation efforts.