Often it seems as if sales and marketing work for different companies, and often, they wish they did. However grim this may seem, truly effective b2b prospecting can’t be achieved without cooperation.
Our experience is that sales usually follows-up only to 30% to 34% of marketing leads. The stated reason is no confidence.
“Why should I follow-up stuff from Marketing when I have real opportunities to work?”
Here’s our 5-step process for integrating sales and marketing, based on demonstrated trust, and have found it can generate a 100% or more increase in lead follow-up, to an average of 60% – 85%.
Step 1: Define the playground
We need a team to make this happen. Empowered representatives of each department are a leaner, more agile team. Not incidentally, this means fewer personalities to contend with.
This team is tasked with developing ideas, trying them, and defining success.
Step 2: Build good fences
The team must hammer out a Service Level Agreement (SLA), defining the new cooperative relationship between sales and marketing. Some suggestions:
- There are interim measures and resulting measures. Interim measures, such as open rate or contacts may be specific to marketing or sales. Resulting measures, such as lead quality and sales, must be shared.
- The SLA specifies the criteria that defines a lead that is worth salesâ€™ time. Sales gets 2 votes, marketing gets maybe one. Criteria may include:
- Source: where did the lead come from (e.g., referral)
- Need: how important is the product or service to the prospect
- Timing: where are they in the consideration process
- Budget: has one been established
- What are the checkpoints for analysis and dialog?
Step 3: Focus
This isn’t going to work unless we share a clear understanding of the prospect, on two levels:
- Decisions are made by the buying center, which consists of several functions. Who is in it and what is the contribution of each executive?
- These executives are not just functional titles, but people, with often contradictory business and personal drivers.
Create prospect personas for executives important to the buying center. Each is an archetype, with substance, form, and personality. This will unify our vision and understanding of these prospects.
Prospect personas must be based on new external research with current prospects and customers, or we will perpetuate the mythology that divides us. Proprietary research among marketing professionals shows that 77% of effective personas were based on new external research and 72% of ineffective personas were created from existing information.
The research will also generate what we call the Key Prospect Insight (KPI), which provides competitively superior insight into these real people regarding their needs, information behavior, attitudes, and motivations.
Step 4: Walk a mile in their shoes
The consideration path to a b2b purchase recommendation is a conundrum, and may vary by persona. The process maps the journey to help you:
- Identify the most powerful touch points.
- Understand how to maximize value and engagement.
- Align company sales and marketing.
If this map isn’t based on new research with current customers and prospects, we’re kidding ourselves.
Step 5: Go big
It’s time to take this hard work down off the lift and get out on the road. Let’s see where this working relationship is strong and where the components need to be fine-tuned.
Publicize the results, concentrating efforts initially on higher management. Cooperation, where it didn’t exist before, constitutes cultural change, and that does not happen from the bottom up. People will only get on the bus if management is driving.
Then engage the rank and file, and show them three things:
- This was developed based on trust
- It requires continuous improvement
- It generates more leads and more sales.
Interestingly, sales and marketing integration is not hypothetical but is a pain-point for many organizations. What works (or doesn’t) for you?