What happens if you do a quick search on your LinkedIn for the terms marketing or sales? You will find hundreds of contacts with positions such as “Head of Business Development”, “Online Marketing Director” or “Inbound Marketing Manager” and many other word combinations that were not associated with these positions some years ago. Moreover, you will find that most of these positions are at SMBs and start-ups and all those businesses will have a common denominator: they are majorly (if not completely) internet based. With the new online business trend, marketing and sales channels have evolved and even merged, resulting in positions such as the business developer. Nonetheless, many experts and companies still argue that there is a clear distinction between both fields of work and that the interference between both should be minimal. Is that really the case?
Should a clear gap exist between sales and marketing activities?
A strong marketing plan without successful sales in the background or a strong sales team that is not backed-up by a capable marketing campaign are recipes for disaster. No matter how creative and engaging a marketing campaign is, no purchases will result if the sales team drives leads away. On the other hand, a very capable sales team can be able to close a large amount of deals, but for that to happen, the marketing team must provide the qualified, sales-ready leads. Lack of coordination between a sales and marketing team can result in the waste of resources and the loss of leads and thus drive a company’s performance downwards. Especially since online businesses showed up, a need for a strong collaboration between both areas has emerged. The marketing team usually addresses the inbound marketing campaigns not only to educate prospects, but also to generate high-quality leads for the sales reps. Thus, the sales team must clearly communicate the profile they are looking for and the marketing team must hand down prospects along the sales funnel, as soon as they are deemed to be sales-ready. It is a constant process the follows a potential customer along the buyer`s journey and assigns the right people to guide him through every step.
What advantages does the sales-marketing collaboration bring?
- Goal and function alignment: A more profound collaboration results in parallel goals and KPIs, which drives both teams simultaneously towards the same objectives and produces better results. This results in better communication, a better allocation of resources and more efficient tracking of the activities and results of both segments. Moreover, this will not only reflect on the inner communications, but also on the clearer messages delivered to prospects.
- Transparent and consistent information: Clear data transmission along the whole sales funnel will result in more conversions, since both teams will know and understand why a lead was classified and how it was classified. In this sense, both teams can better follow the prospect along the buyer`s journey and the respective team will address each circumstance with the adequate means. Does the prospect need more information to enhance his interest? Is the customer already showing a clear intent to buy? All this questions are easily answered with the help of transparent data management.
- A clear picture of the target customers: A global view of prospects, instead of viewing customers only as sales- or marketing-leads, is vital. This helps both teams have a better picture of the customer’s behavior and in addition learn for future deals or retention processes. The marketing team can thus share feedback from customers received through their channels, while the sales team reports on the deal closure processes. In this sense, CRM tools become even more powerful, by helping coordinate such information exchange in a one-stop tool.
- Efficient prospecting and high-quality lead generation: It is vital for marketing and sales teams to coordinate the lead capture and generation process, especially in regards to lead scoring systems. In this sense, both teams can understand not only the attributes valuable for their team, but also the ones that the other team is looking for. Thus, a larger percentage of conversions will result from high-quality leads being effectively nurtured towards sales by the marketing team.
Which tools can help coordinate both teams?
An obvious answer would be CRM solutions. Tools such as SalesForce of HubSpot can easily summarize all customer and prospect related information in one single database. Such tools are great to enhance the communication process and guide both teams along the buyer’s journey. However, there are other innovative tools out there that also help both teams collaborate in the active lead acquisition and development process. A great example is [Beamium](www.beamium.com) a platform to upload and share effective presentations that allows companies to generate and capture leads. For instance, a marketing presentation uploaded to Beamium can be shared as a link in social media channels, emails or forums or even embedded in webpages, landing pages or blogs to inform and attract prospects. The prospect that has already been educated by the marketing pitch and wants to find out more, decides to download the presentation or comment on it in exchange for an email address. The marketing team is now sure that this lead is bridging the gap between interest and intent and can thus share a high-quality lead with the sales team (also supported by various statistics provided by the tool). In this sense, the inbound marketing process as well as the lead generation strategy are highly automated and significantly increase the performance or both teams.
A tighter collaboration between sales and marketing teams has become a must to keep up with the dynamic cycles of online business. It is still common to see a CMO and a CSO appointed in most major companies. Will this be the case in 15 years or will these positions also end up merging? How small the gap will be, is difficult to predict. Nonetheless, it can be said with certainty that the smaller, the better.
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