Elyse Flynn Meyer is the Founder of Prism Global Marketing Solutions, a HubSpot Diamond Partner & author of, Mastering Inbound Marketing.
The goal of any marketing team is to grow revenue. Leveraging inbound marketing and sales alignment can help generate leads and increase your customer conversion rate. To do this, your sales and marketing teams must complement each other and operate like a well-oiled machine to ensure consistent messaging with prospects and customers.
Sales alignment refers to the sales and marketing teams working as a unified organization to achieve the company’s revenue goals. Aligning sales and inbound marketing can shorten the sales cycle and improve conversion rates. Sales alignment with your inbound marketing efforts can maximize content utilization, drive brand awareness, increase lead generation and improve customer conversion rates.
Here are four tips to achieve sales and marketing alignment:
Agree on terminology.
The first step to aligning sales and marketing is to keep your messaging consistent. You should agree on the terminology with both teams to avoid miscommunication and misalignment. Essential terms include:
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• Leads: A lead is someone who has filled out a form on your website, such as a pop-up opt-in form or a blog subscription. These are your top-of-the-funnel contacts.
• Marketing Qualified Leads: A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is an individual who has taken more qualified actions such as downloading an e-book, watching a webinar or opening a certain number of emails. These contacts would be enrolled in a marketing automation nurture program to give them more educational information to aid in their decision-making process.
• Sales Qualified Leads: A sales qualified lead (SQL) is a lead that the sales function has accepted as a qualified lead to pursue. An SQL is someone who fills out a form, such as requesting a demo or meeting. The SQL has met criteria such as industry, company size and job title to be a fit to connect with sales.
• Opportunities: An opportunity exists when someone moves past the initial sales discussion to have more in-depth communications with sales, such as a proposal or quote.
It’s essential to agree on these terms so marketing and sales understand what determines if someone is a qualified prospect. This will help the marketing team make sure they are sending sales the right leads. This also holds sales accountable for following up with those prospects.
Facilitate training and meetings between departments.
Encourage regular meetings between your sales and marketing teams. These meetings are vital to helping different departments hold meaningful discussions, share processes and define best practices. They allow marketing to discuss the volume of leads generated, while sales can discuss the quality of leads and revenue potential. This process ensures that the prospects entering the funnel are sales-qualified and are followed up with promptly.
These meetings should happen weekly to keep the conversation open between both teams and allow for adjustments in the marketing or sales processes. Open communication in any organization is essential to the growth of the business because it enables faster optimizations of the strategy, leading to more unified marketing and sales processes.
Brainstorm new content topics.
Your sales team communicates with your prospects every day. They understand what makes a prospect excited about your products and services. The problem is that sales teams often don’t have time to write down these frequent questions or potential content ideas during a busy day.
As a marketer, you can develop a process to help. Remember, helpful content that answers your prospects’ questions is critical to the success of your marketing program. This type of feedback from sales will help you exponentially home in your content efforts.
During your regular meeting with sales, take five minutes to ask about frequent questions from prospects and if their prospects have mentioned specific content pieces that have been helpful. Create a shared document to collect ideas and references. It’s a quick way for everyone to stay on the same page, and it shouldn’t take sales much time to enter their ideas to discuss during your meetings. You can use this information to update your content calendar to ensure you’re creating content that will be most helpful for your prospects and sales team. Creating content that aligns with your sales process ultimately results in better information for your prospects. This will ensure that your prospects are even more qualified when they enter your buyer’s journey and begin a sales discussion.
Have a content utilization strategy.
Misalignment between marketing and sales often leads to underutilized content. In most cases, marketing content goes unused if sales is not aware of the content or do not know how to leverage it. The marketing team should have a central hub where the content resides online for the sales team. This resource should describe the content use case, note where in the funnel it would be most appropriate and include a tracking URL so the marketing team can track the usage and performance of the content.
Content assets that marketing should be creating for sales include:
• Case Studies
• Shareable Content for Social
The above assets will give the sales team appropriate content to use at every stage of the buyer’s journey to aid in the sales process.
Marketing and sales leaders are responsible for the coordinated efforts of their marketing and sales teams. This coordination should encourage continued communication and collaboration, leading to better lead generation, content utilization and revenue growth. However, this type of communication and collaboration does not need to be complicated. It is simply building a repeatable process that both teams can follow to align and work toward the same business and growth goals.