Marketers! Go Forth and Conquer Sales and Marketing Alignment!

By February 8, 2016
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Sales and marketing alignment can be a tough one. I’m lucky enough to work at a company that is doing pretty dang well in this regard–plus, we are always looking for ways to improve the relationship. Why does EverString spend so much time on sales and marketing alignment? The fact is, sales and marketing alignment is incredibly important.

Marketing is responsible for bringing in high quality leads to feed the sales team. And the sales team is responsible for closing those deals. Because of today’s self-educating, multi-channel buyer, marketing owns an ever-increasing part of the customer journey. As the marketer, you own the relationship and the messaging–so the handoff to your sales team has to be seamless. Plus, because you are spending so much time and money on programs to nurture buyers for sales, you want your sales team to follow up with each and every lead. But, unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.

When your sales and marketing teams are not aligned, the leads you are sending to sales are not being followed up with, and sales complains that they never get good leads from marketing.

If your sales and marketing teams are at odds with one another, particularly with regards to defining your leads, your revenue machine is broken. So go fix it.

Easier said than done, right? Well, in this post we’ll go over how predictive scoring can put you on the right track. Plus, we will go over some additional items that you, the marketing team, can do to improve the relationship. You’re not getting off scot-free, sales team! You have things you can do too, but we’ll get to that in another post.

Predictive Scoring

For a long time, marketing has passed off leads to sales purely based on a prospects’ level of engagement. This makes sense right? Marketing automation has been all the rage, and lead scoring is based on engagement—how many ebooks did your buyer download, how many webinars did she attend, and did she look at the pricing page? But sometimes the seemingly hot lead you just sent to your sales team might be a terrible fit for your business. Think–your highly engaged buyer is from a healthcare company when you only sell into finance. Wrong company, wrong industry.

Your sales team can recognize that immediately. But how would you know that if you were just using behavioral lead scoring in your marketing automation platform?

Predictive scoring solves this problem. Predictive scoring gives accounts and leads a score based on fit, intent, and engagement data. Plus, that score is based off of your own historical data on what type of accounts have closed, which aligns the teams even further. Because a predictive platform, like EverString, scores accounts first before leads, you are speaking in your sales teams’ language–high-fit accounts. Let’s take a look at what predictive scoring adds to the account scoring mix.

We talked about engagement, that’s a lead’s interactions with you and your brand. What about fit and intent data?

  • Fit: Fit measures firmographic data (e.g. company size, industry and geography), tech stack data (i.e. what products and technologies are they using), and personal-level data about title, background skills, etc. Fit data can tell you everything you need to know about a company to decide if it’s the right company for you to sell into.
  • Intent: Intent data tracks an account’s intention to purchase your product. In other words, it tracks prospects’ visits to your competitors’ websites, when they look at third-party blogs, and when they search for relevant keywords to your product. Granted, these signals aren’t always present because only a small percentage of all prospects are actively looking to buy at any given time.

So, instead of just defining leads based on engagement, which is certainly important, with predictive scoring, you are defining leads based on additional criteria that will help you and your sales team understand how likely this account is to actually buy your product. With predictive scoring, you can be confident in the leads you send to sales. And nothing helps a sales and marketing relationship like a slew of killer inbound leads.

What Else Can Marketing Do?

In addition to predictive scoring, there are other ways that marketing can ensure that they are aligned with sales.

  • Data hygiene: No sales rep wants a junk lead! If marketing spends time to improve data, then sales won’t have to spend time researching contact information, only to find that the lead is a poor fit in the first place. By taking time to ensure that you are standardizing incoming data, you can fix the need for additional research.
  • Sales training: You need to make sure that your sales team understands your funnel stage definitions, when to reach out to a lead, and what to say to that lead. This can only happen with training. Train your sales team on where they can find a new MQL and what messaging they should use. Also make sure you train your sales team on what they should do with the MQL in different situations. Show them how to reject leads, and make this as easy as possible.
  • Create lead alerts: Make sure all of your leads get touched by sales in the proper amount of time. Set up an SLA (service level agreement) with you and your sales team that says a lead has to be followed up with in a certain amount of time. If a sales rep does not follow up with that lead an email will be sent to his manager. If the lead still remains untouched an email goes to the VP, and then to the CEO. This ensures proper follow-up.

These are not the only things you can do to help boost the love you get from your sales team, but it will get you off to a good start! And remember marketers, this isn’t just to win the hearts and minds of your counterpart, these tips are to boost your numbers and show your execs that you can tie a closed deal directly back to marketing. Go forth and hustle!

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