We recently worked with a client in which their marketing-to-sales hand-off process was far from perfect. In fact, many of their marketing investments were going straight to the trash bin. First, sales believed marketing’s leads were unqualified and as a result, they did not proactively follow-up on MQLS. Second, with incomplete or low information, sales had little insight into why these prospects were qualified in the first place and were missing basic info (industry, title, contact phone, etc.). Conducting outreach meant spending time putting the pieces together…
Sound familiar? How and why is the marketing-to-sales gap happening?
“Sales Enablement” is Not Just for Sales
If you want MQLs to drive revenue for your business, sales is the key to making ends meet. Bridging the gap between generating leads to leads that ACTUALLY convert is critical. In a recent Forbes article, Bob Evans of Oracle said “While other marketers struggle to demonstrate marketing’s value to the business, modern marketers can easily connect the dots between their activity and revenue results” and “any CMO who hopes to lay claim to that entire Customer Experience without simultaneously taking responsibility for revenue growth will be severely disappointed.” We agree that marketing needs to take a bigger piece of the lead-to-close puzzle and this starts with sales enablement. Traditionally, the term sales enablement means training the sales team via FAQS, presentations, demos and call-scripts all part of a sales playbook. It’s not that this information isn’t important, it’s that those materials are meant to get sales up and running and do much less help on the day to day outreach.
Consider this: If sales actually stuck with with “the book,” their messaging would sound diluted and dull… just another typical generic sales pitch. The best sales reps take the time to thoroughly get to know their customer, their interests, role, company and cater their outreach accordingly – thinking “outside the book.” If you enable sales with customer data (what our client was missing above) sales can conduct better, faster and more personalized outreach without the use of your outdated email templates. Most businesses work off of “how many calls/emails can I get out in a day?” and worry less about the quality, and relevancy of their outreach. We believe “the more you know, the more you grow,” AKA giving reps everything they could possibly know about each customer or prospect is a certain advantage (not to mention your MQL to conversion rates will prosper.) An extra bit of information can make your sales approach a nice friendly hand-shake vs. that sales call you get right when you are about to sit down for dinner.
Marketing’s Job Should Not Stop At the Top of the Funnel
Most companies don’t fund marketing campaigns aimed at the customers/prospects inside sales already serves. Much of marketing is centered around generating net new leads.
Consider this: Sales needs to deliver a trusting relationship with prospects to close the sale and I guarantee you that doesn’t start with “hey there, buy this.” Trust starts with the content that marketing develops that can ease prospects towards a sale. Collaboration tools between sales and marketing help gather the right content, gauge the prospect and his interests and are critical to fueling the pipeline and pressing the gas peddle. Here at MarketBridge, we believe this starts with your specific acquisition, cross-sell and up-sell plays – and BOTH teams need to be involved. How can sales and marketing work together to accomplish each of those goals? In each of those plays, the prospect or customer requires a different type of nurturing and pitch. This needs to be communicated across both marketing and sales, driven by their access to information and technology.
Tech Tools Galore Means Your Data Has Gone Awry
Speaking of tech, this one is a biggy – with major platform investments/upgrades in CRM, Marketing Automation, and “big data” analytics continuing through 2018, we know companies are investing in tools that hold a multitude of customer data points for your reps. But, aggregating all of that information for your sales reps to use sounds nearly impossible.
Consider this: If your data can be better aggregated and easily presented to sales reps, your MQLS are more qualified for outreach. Why? It comes down to the story of quantity vs. quality. Quality of MQLS is sometimes misconstrued to mean how much the contact engaged or their propensity to buy based on recent actions BUT, it is just as important for sales look beyond your marketing tactics – who are these people? the right demographic or firmographic fit? when is the perfect time to pitch to them? what is the best channel to conduct outreach? what content or offer should they be given? This extra bit of information makes all the difference. Take your MQL that attended a recent webinar vs. your MQL that attended a recent webinar, is in a decision-making role, is most likely to reply to outreach via LinkedIn InMail, and just purchased an external product that integrates with yours. Which do you think is better qualified? The truth is, those leads could be the exact same, but it’s the difference of knowing that extra bit of information that can close the sale.