It seems that for as long as I’ve been in marketing there has been this divide that exists with the sales, or business development team. That said I started my career in business development and, now that I’m in marketing, I realize we never even thought of the great folks over in the marketing department either. We hear a lot of these familiar sayings, right?
“Sales wants sales-ready leads…”
“They want more leads…”
“They say our leads aren’t good enough…”
Of course, if you’re sitting over in the business development meetings you’ll likely hear…
“These leads are crap…”
“Why can’t they deliver better leads more often…”
“We don’t have enough leads…”
I get it and I’m sure you do as well. We all have a job to do and we know what that job is, but when was the last time you – as a marketer – attended a sales meeting? When was the last time you sat down with a business development team member and discussed what they do and how they do it? To be fair, if I’m still in business development, I should also be hunting down the marketers that are generating my leads.
Marketers can learn a ton from sales that can help them in building campaigns and lead generation programs. From messaging to what constitutes a sales-ready lead to who best to target and how; sales has a lot to offer marketing – and vice versa.
Marketing/Sales, Gather Valuable Information from Each Other
Not too long ago we began a new initiative with one of our clients to help build out their lead generation programs. We asked our contact what sales had told them about their prospects needs. The blank look we got suggested that we really needed to facilitate the sales and marketing conversation that was missing in their organization.
The idea was to gather information from both teams in order to begin to formulate targeted messaging for influencers and decision makers. This unified messaging could also be used across their website and sales collateral. What we found was that the conversation was a breath of fresh air for everyone. The response from both teams was amazing because there was a realization that although they work for the same company, they often worked in silos as a ‘sales team’ and a ‘marketing team’. It was like having a conversation with a distant relative for the first time in years. So good to catch up and see what the other was doing and, in the process, revitalizing the relationship.
Beyond catching up, the information that marketing gathered was invaluable! It will go a long way in creating a seamless corporate message; one that will resonate with prospects and help generate more, and better, leads. We brought a comprehensive list of questions that we wanted sales folks to answer that would help us refine our marketing efforts. (NOTE: we already knew going in what the target industry and company looked like so we didn’t need to ask those questions. Hopefully marketing knows that going in right?)
Ask These Quality Questions
- Who do you feel your best “buyer” or “target” decision maker is in an organization by title or persona (if you use buyer personas)?
- Who are the influencers in an organization by title or persona?
- Describe the typical sales process from engagement through close.
- How much time does a typical sale take?
- List three (or more) objections you hear from prospects. Are these similar across products and solutions? If not, how do they differ?
- What questions do your prospects ask of you?
- What’s the hardest objection to overcome? Why do you think that is?
- List the key product/solution differentiators you have over your competitors? (This may differ from what your website messaging suggests)
- What do your prospects think is the company’s best attribute?
- What frustrations do your prospects feel in doing their job? This might be different from decision maker to influencer.
- What are your competitors doing better than you?
- What are you doing better than your competitors?
- Is your website a valuable tool for you?
- What changes would you make to your website?
- How do your prospects find you? Or how do you find them?
- What do you think marketing could do better to support you?
- What does marketing do well?
- To you, what makes a lead sales-ready?
Asking some of these questions wasn’t easy. There definitely was some nervous laughter and some awkward silence. That said the information we gathered from the answers and subsequent conversation helped us and our client marketing team change the way they approached quite a bit of their lead generation efforts.
Here’s What We Learned In That Meeting
We came away with a much better understanding of what we (as marketers) were doing that was working and not working. It turns out who we thought was the decision maker in an organization was just an influencer. This changed our messaging, targeting, and offer strategies.
We learned that what we thought were key organizational differentiators were not what buyers were looking for. This changed completely how they used their website, the keywords they optimized the site around, and how they positioned their company to prospects, and ultimately what we led our lead generation efforts with. Huge all around!
We learned that while we thought the website was a sales tool, it wasn’t. We learned that it needed more thought leadership content that sales could leverage for the top-of-the-funnel early sales cycle and for the prospects who were near decisions.
We also learned that marketing could generate leads that sales were happy to have.
We learned that sales and marketing can work together nicely!
So, What’s The Bottom Line?
Marketing needs to reach across the divide and leverage the wealth of knowledge that sales can provide about the targets they are trying to reach. The information they can garner is far too valuable and the assumptions that many in marketing make are not always accurate.
Both teams need to work together. In doing so, each will be helping make themselves and the others a more successful group within the organization. It goes without saying, but we’ll say it, that if marketing generates more, higher quality, leads, sales will benefit tremendously! Likewise, if the sales team closes more business as a result of improved leads, marketing stands to benefit.