The paths of marketing and sales have always been entwined, no matter how much either side may deny it. The goal of marketing is to raise interest in a product or service (i.e. generate leads), and the goal of sales is to take that interest and turn it into a purchase (i.e. convert leads). Both need a rock-solid understanding of their target market and a strong lead management process.
Where many sales and marketing teams tend to trip up is over lead management. What’s the right lead management process to convert leads into prospects, and then into customers? And how do you divvy up actions between marketing and sales to make sure no leads slip through the cracks? Some will argue it’s the responsibility of one and not the other, but as you can probably guess, both the sales and the marketing teams are accountable.
Below are some steps on how to divide and conquer the lead management process.
1) Agree on key definitions
Before getting started on any activity, marketing and sales need to agree on what a ‘lead’ is, what a marketing qualified lead is (MQL), and what a sales qualified lead is (SQL). Without this, each side will end up playing the blame game of who isn’t delivering or converting the right leads.
Marketing: Work with the sales team to create an ideal customer persona: industry, job title, pain points, etc. This will give you a clear idea of the type of leads sales will accept and who you should be targeting.
Sales: Help marketing understand the type of lead you want. The more specific you can be the better! If there are different types of ideal customers for multiple products or services, take the time to create personas for each of them.
2) Map out the lead process
Regardless of what type of CRM your business has (Salesforce, Dynamics, etc.) these are all tools, not magic portals in which you can shove information and hope it spits out the answers to all your problems. A lead management tool can only help you when used correctly.
Marketing: Map out the journey a lead can take to get into your CRM, as well as the steps you take once they are there, in terms of assessing and distributing the lead to sales.
Sales: Map out the process you take once a lead lands on your desk, all the way through to conversion and making them a customer. It’s also equally important to map out what happens when a lead doesn’t convert or doesn’t even make it to the SQL stage.
3) Battle through the ‘grey areas’
After mapping out the lead management process, sales and marketing need to collate their ideas into one, single point of truth. When you do this, a few things will happen:
1. You will notice that sales and marketing have different ideas when it comes to the lead journey and what actions should be taken at what stage.
2. There is a ‘grey area’ where activity from both marketing and sales overlap.
Rectifying these issues can be simple, it just requires communication and agreement from sales and marketing.
With the lead journey, there may be varying ideas on the turnaround time in which marketing needs to send leads to sales, and when sales need to follow up those leads.
For example, the sales team may expect marketing to send them newly qualified MQLs within 12 hours of identification. Marketing may then expect the sales team to call those new leads the same working day.
Figuring out these timings depends on the services you offer and what your prospects expect. (Hint: aim to exceed their expectations, not meet them.)
As for the ‘grey area’ mentioned above, this tends to crop up when marketing is trying to track leads through the sales funnel, and sales are forgetting to log and tag activity with leads in the CRM.
Whilst it’s sales’ responsibility to track their activity with a lead and change the ‘lead status’ accordingly, it’s often a measurement that is held against marketing in terms of being able to show how leads are progressing through the funnel.
4) Apply the theory and hold each other accountable
You’ve done the theory, now comes the hard part- applying it! Look at your current marketing campaigns, are they targeting the personas agreed upon? If not, adjust where possible or start planning your next campaign to target the right people.
Ensure your CRM is set up to enable both marketing and sales to use it as per the lead management process that’s been agreed. If certain fields, permissions or automation are required, talk to IT or whoever supports your CRM installation to get those sorted.
In the beginning you’ll probably need to be in each other’s pockets, meeting weekly (at least) to touch base on the quality of leads coming through and checking on the process both teams are applying. Is everyone doing what was agreed for the lead handling process? Does the process work? If not, find out why and address it.
Sales and marketing teams that take these steps, and take them seriously, will not only see better results from their lead management efforts, but also see an improvement in their working relationship.
Interested in improving your lead generation programme? Contact us today to see how we can help.