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How to Bridge the Gap Between Sales and Marketing

In the organizational structure of most businesses, there’s a marketing department and a sales department. While this separation of activities may be necessary for reporting reasons, it often leads to confusion and tension between the two.

Marketing has a broad agenda in its responsibility to the business. This agenda includes:

  • Branding
  • Advertising
  • Lead Generation
  • Web content
  • Market research
  • New product development
  • Social media

Sales, on the other hand, has a specific focus. Salespeople are charged with cultivating customer leads, qualifying those leads, managing a sales pipeline, and remaining focused on the key touch-points that move a general inquiry to a qualified lead to a buying customer.

Regardless of the difference in scope, both sales and marketing share the same objectives: satisfying customers and growing revenue for the business. So it’s essential for businesses to close the gap between the two departments – enabling them to work more efficiently toward these common goals.

Here are tips for bridging the gap between marketing and sales:

Start speaking the same language. In your organization, is there common agreement on what constitutes a “lead”? More importantly, does everyone agree on the definition of a “qualified lead”? Make sure a consensus exists on these critical terms, then focus your marketing activities on developing comprehensive target customer profiles and gathering information on key decision-makers within the target audience. If sales pursue individuals who lack the power to buy, their efforts are wasted and they end up distrusting the marketing team that sent them down the wrong path in the first place.

Create a jointly developed plan. Amazingly, many companies spend vast amounts of time and effort creating a strategic plan but never get input from their sales departments. Who else has more intimate knowledge and front-line experience of the customer than your sales team? A more effective approach involves sales and marketing creating a sales funnel plan that lays out every step of their customers’ buying process and details the best ways to reach out and influence those customers.

Measure activities and results. Encourage sales and marketing to revamp their analytics and to develop agreed-upon metrics that accurately measure the outcomes of the marketing and sales process.

Invite marketing staff to “walk a mile” in the sales team’s shoes. Often, tensions between sales and marketing arise from a simple misunderstanding of how a salesperson operates. One solution to this problem is to have members of the marketing team (from the top executive on down) spend a day or week with sales reps. See how they make contact with customers, develop leads, follow up on calls, etc. There’s probably no better way to learn just what information salespeople require as they work to influence the buying process.

It’s worth emphasizing the depth of customer knowledge a good sales rep has. They know what works with targeted customer and what falls flat. Within your organization, it should be made easy for sales to share this vital information with marketing and, armed with this knowledge, for marketing to give sales every tool possible to succeed in the field.

Sales And Marketing – What Is The Difference And How It Affects Your Home Based Business

Sales and marketing are terms that often travel together and many assume they mean the same thing. They are not.

Let’s start with a fishing analogy.

In fishing, marketing would be the act of chumming -or throwing bits of fish-friendly food over the side of boat to attract fish. You would do some research so you know which bits will attract the particular fish you are interested in. This could include the size and flavor of the cumming bits and even which side of the boat or time of day you toss them in. This is marketing. The act of attracting the desired catch.

Sales is the lure with the gleaming hook on it that is cast out among the desired fishes. It’s brash, often obviously artificial and there is no better analogy for sales than the hook. It is cast over and over and reeled in, temptingly and tantalizingly in front of the unsuspecting fish.

There is honor in both methods.

The Marketer uses carefully gathered information in symphonic execution to draw his customer in. First as a casually interested prospect, then as an engaged investigator and finally as a customer and, if he is wise, a raving fan. The Marketer’s goal is to gently message the prospect into being a customer in such a way that he’s convinced it was his idea to make the purchase.

The Salesman thinks on his feet. He understands different personalities and what motivates them and he figures it out within minutes if not seconds of meeting the prospect. He deftly interrogates and finds the pain of his prospect and immediately morphs his product or opportunity into the perfect solution.

Why This Matters To You

If you have a home based business, especially a network marketing or MLM business, chances are your upline expects you to be a salesman. Friends and family, circle of influence, paid leads and anyone netted in the “3 foot rule” all require selling to close the deal. You have a window of a minute or two to make it happen and if you don’t do it right you likely poison the well forever.

Selling is a craft that can be learned like any other but most scripts are one dimensional and if you haven’t learned what’s between the lines your close rate will be minimal. The good news is that there are plenty of books, audios and live courses that teach the art of selling. The bad news is that most new network marketers grow weary of being battered by NO long before they master it.

Marketing is more subtle. It attracts prospects to you and allows you to gently present yourself and you product over time. It allows them to grow familiar with you and build trust and by the time the process matures the close is seamless and painless. It more readily builds raving fans and virtually eliminates buyer’s remorse. Marketing also requires study and dedication but is easier to master than full frontal selling.

Both sales and marketing are essential to a successful business and understanding and eventually mastering both need to be part of your journey.

Where Are You In The Cycle?

Most home business and network marketers get the “cart ahead of the horse” by plunging into a business first and trudging through the process of mastering sales and marketing later. Don’t feel bad if this is where you are in the cycle. It’s common and it’s manageable.

Start now by investing in books, audios and coaching to teach you the fundamentals and plug into a mastermind group to help you hone your new skills. Nobody fell from the sky knowing these skills and you simply have to resolve yourself to make the commitment to success.

Demystifying the Sales and Marketing Disconnect

It’s the age-old battle within any organization-sales versus marketing. Why is that? It seems both groups should be working hand-in-hand to create a seamless process for driving leads and meeting (or exceeding) the company’s revenue objectives.

After all, both are working toward the same ultimate goal: sales. Hmm well, maybe that isn’t always quite the case. As has been long noted, sales and marketing departments are not driven by the same goals and, therefore, are not in sync with each other.

The reality is that most often, marketing is motivated not by sales but by the number of leads (or “clicks”) it generates. Conversely, sales is driven solely by the numbers: how many sales close and how much revenue is generated. Thus, a gap exists a large one, at that between marketing and sales and between leads and revenue.

This gap is where the real difficulty lies. It has grown and will continue to grow as selling and buying has changed. The Internet has made it especially difficult for companies to accurately identify what is a true lead versus a simple inquiry. For instance, buyers are using the Internet very early on to conduct research on future, potential purchases. They visit Websites and download datasheets and whitepapers, but the vast majority of them are too early in the process to have interest in talking to a salesperson. Approaching them too soon can be annoying to the buyer and a waste of valuable sales time. Bottom line: In the Internet age, a simple click on an e-mail or website rarely translates to an instant, sales-ready lead.

If companies don’t adapt to this new selling model, they will continue to suffer. Let’s suppose this gap is closed and that leads being generated by marketing are a major determinant for driving the success of sales. Let’s further suppose leads passed to sales are true “sales-ready” leads and not simply suspects doing research. This sounds impressive-almost magical-but is it realistic?

With the correct leadership, a change in mindset by sales and marketing, and with the right supporting processes and automation, it is possible. Not only can sales and marketing be aligned, but in doing so you will be able to drive more business with less cost and effort.

1. Align sales and marketing goals. No question, marketing and sales must start sharing common goals. But this is hard to do when marketing can’t influence the sale and is more focused on clicks and lead volume than on actual lead quality. In turn, sales can’t rely on marketing for leads and is forced to spend its time cold-calling. The idea then is to find common understanding in the middle. Going forward, marketing should be measured not on the number of leads it generates, but on the number of sales-ready leads that enter the pipeline. The key to this metric, then, is the definition of a sales-ready lead.

2. Define a sales-ready lead. The essential element in this step is having marketing and sales mutually decide what truly comprises a sales-ready lead. Is this someone who downloaded three items from your Website and has the right title? Is it someone who downloaded something from the Website, is in the right industry and then was further qualified by telemarketing? Or, maybe it’s someone who attended a Webinar? Whatever the definition, it is something that must be agreed upon by both sales and marketing. And crucially, it has to be a definition that can be accomplished through the marketing organization alone (this could include telemarketing and inside sales for some organizations).

3. Revise the marketing to sales process. If marketing now has to provide a sales-ready lead, then the process by default must also change. You should no longer have cold leads from trade shows and websites feed directly into the CRM system for sales to call. Instead, leads must be tracked, all interactions should be followed, they should be scored based on their behavior and demographics, and they must be nurtured along the continuum until the criteria for sales-ready leads are met. A process must be implemented to facilitate these items. As you will see below, automation can help marketing organizations gain great leverage to do this.

4. Revise marketing’s role. It’s no secret marketing departments are not increasing resources-especially now. It is therefore critical for marketers to be given the appropriate tools to facilitate and leverage the limited resources they have. Marketing’s role should now include not just outbound lead generation, but also lead tracking and nurturing. One might say lead generation really is not just the initial creation of interest, but the full slate of nurturing activities that grow the lead into a genuine prospect. Marketing’s role must expand to take responsibility for moving sales-ready leads to sales, instead of simply handing over cold inquiries.

5. Make sure sales sells. It’s also no secret sales spends only a portion of its day selling, and that costs money-lots of money. If marketing produces sales-ready leads versus cold inquiries, then sales in turn should spend more time selling-and less time generating its own leads, and calling and qualifying cold inquiries. This should drive more sales in less time, a win for everyone.

6. Understand less is more. Both sales and marketing organizations must come to a full understanding that it’s not the volume of leads that matters, but their quality. So when you tell sales it will now get 50 leads per month instead of 100, it must be understood those 50 leads will be far superior to the leads previously received. These leads will have entered the buy cycle; they will have interacted with your company in some meaningful way. Sales will save time, regain faith in the leads passed to them by marketing, and should sell more.

7. Leverage automation. As mentioned previously, technology can help marketing departments get better leads to sales. Marketing automation systems in particular provide the mechanism to efficiently capture, track and score leads. The outcome of the process is to drive better-quality leads to sales. Additionally, marketing automation systems also help marketers to automate the process of nurturing leads over time. Consistent nurturing will continue to drive more quality leads over the life of a typical lead generation campaign.

With automation, marketers can take on their new role of providing sales-ready leads without expanding staff or resources. Start small-with one campaign, and utilizing the automation through that one campaign-then refine and expand to other campaigns.

8. Measure. Of course, aligning sales and marketing sounds like a great concept; but unless you measure the “payoff,” it won’t matter. Measuring sales and marketing alignment takes into account a series of metrics that are way too numerous to cover in this short article. But it’s important to note the success of alignment will be felt within both sales and marketing. Yes, the number of closed sales and the amount of revenue are most important and will be greatly impacted. But other metrics, such as ROI for lead generation campaigns and the reduced cost of sales resources, will also become apparent.

With the current economic climate, it is now more important than ever to align sales and marketing activities and objectives. And while this might sound like a tremendously large concept, it can truly be implemented step by step. Most of all, management must decide that the alignment will pay off, and changing the goals and metrics by which both organizations are measured is a key element to moving forward. In the end, the successful alignment of sales and marketing organizations will be a competitive advantage.