The classic struggle between B2B marketing and sales brings to mind a few lines from a song in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, Oklahoma:
Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends.
One man likes to push a plough, the other likes to chase a cow.
But that’s no reason why they can’t be friends.
Cute and corny, but, as the song continues, it also says “territory folks should stick together.” That is, we all work for the betterment of the same place. Isn’t that how it should be with marketers and salespeople? Shouldn’t both groups contribute to the growth and stability of a business?
The American Marketing Association notes, “Aligning sales and marketing teams is a problem as old as the corporate structure, itself. For most companies, marketing’s job is to generate leads, and sales’ job is to turn those leads into clients. In practice, though, marketing and sales need to work in tandem, aligning their roles and goals to ensure that ROI becomes the responsibility of the whole organization, not individual teams.”
When aligning the marketing and sales teams, the common goal should be clear — improving revenue for the whole company. As Hubspot explains, “The reality is that marketing and sales are really just two halves of the same team: ‘Team Revenue.’”
Here are a few steps to get you started on aligning your own “Team Revenue”:
Write a plan — together
It’s important to create a written strategy that brings B2B marketing and sales together. They should agree upon the shared goals and how to achieve them. Likewise, together they need to establish clear definitions and expectations. This planning will keep marketing from saying that sales doesn’t follow up on leads. It will also prevent sales from complaining that marketing hands them crummy leads. With a written mutually agreed-upon document, the whole team commits to growing revenue for your company.
It’s important for your organization to define and consistently use the same definitions for the people you’re communicating with. For example, if you’re using an inbound marketing strategy, website visitors who leave a little bit of data are commonly referred to as “prospects.” If someone completes a form on your website in return for a piece of content, they are your “leads.”
Define marketing and sales qualified leads
Because the overall goal is company revenue, determine the number of prospects and qualified leads you’ll need to reach your sales quotas and improve the bottom line results. Part of this includes identifying the contacts that need more nurturing from marketing. Also, determine which ones have become interested enough for sales to take over and close the deal.
Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are those that the marketing team has engaged with to the point where they become solid sales leads. After the hand-off, your salespeople will determine which are sales qualified leads (SQLs) ready for a direct follow-up. What holds it all together is marketing’s commitment toward the number and quality of MQLs and sales’ pledge regarding the speed and depth of follow-up.
Once you’ve established goals, defined a shared vocabulary and written your processes, you can’t stop there! Keep the lines of communication open regarding prospects, MQLs, SQLs and results by scheduling regular reporting meetings. This will enable you to review data, identify how and why certain leads have become customers, and fine-tune the process where necessary.
It doesn’t matter whether you are pushing the plow or chasing a cow like the characters in Oklahoma. As long as you have a clearly defined and agreed-upon plan, your B2B marketing and sales teams can join forces for the benefit of the whole enterprise.
If you are interested in boosting your lead generation tactics, check out this free e-Book for tips, tricks and ideas.
All marketing tactics should be thought of as part of a larger whole, rather than separate pieces. By strategically integrating all tactics, the programs become more effective and cost efficient. An Integrated marketing communication plan helps you meet real business objectives – generate leads, grow revenues, gain market share, and become the leading brand.
Lisa Goetz is a public relations executive at Schubert b2b, where she primarily writes content and manages media relations. She brings 20 years of editorial and communications experience to Schubert b2b and holds a PhD in English literature from Duquesne University. When not in the office, Lisa likes to take excursions with her husband and hang out with her cat and a good book.