Lead generation and sales teams should work hand in glove. After all, both teams work toward the same goal: closing sales. The Aberdeen Group recently published a study showing that 88 percent of companies have the best results when they use a closed loop marketing process. Information should feed from marketing to sales, and then back to marketing.
Unfortunately, what I often see is a system where bad leads get the most follow up, and good leads go stagnant. All leads have potential, but if they are not aligned with the current offerings being focused on by the sales team, they waste a lot of manpower.
Developing a seamless integration between lead generation and sales takes a bit of work, but the result is measurable increases in ROI and capacity, as it takes less work for the same sales.
Here are 5 ways to help bring these two teams together:
- Improve Lead Quality through Communication - The marketing team owns the responsibility for generating qualified leads, but that can only happen with input from the sales team. What criteria separate an unqualified lead from a qualified lead?
If the sales team cannot quantify the difference, the marketing team cannot generate the right lead. Be sure to set up a system where the sales team lays out what they need from a good lead. This will help the marketing team pre-qualify leads and improve conversion rates.
- Be aware of Capacity Issues - As the marketing team generates an increasing number of good leads, they need immediate follow up. If the sales team reaches capacity, many of those leads could get lost in the ether, and your company will lose out to competitors.
Wasted leads are one of the biggest issues I have seen plague the lead generation team during the sales acquisition process. To combat this issue, create a feedback loop from the sales team to marketing, so leads can receive first stage follow up and continued relationship-building efforts.
- It's all about the data and metrics - Lead generation teams can dramatically improve the quality of the leads they gather by improving their tracking methods. With modern techniques, there is no excuse for not knowing where a lead came from, what the potential customer is looking for, and what path they took to get to the point where they’re ready to buy from you.
This information helps shorten the sales cycle, reducing manpower commitments and improving total sales numbers. Data collection, particularly with online marketing, can show the exact message or tool that caused a conversion. Constantly track lead sourcing and ensure the information travels with the leads to sales for the best results.
- Extend Your Customer Relationships - A constant mistake I see businesses make is the way they apportion responsibility for generating long-term customer relationships. The reality is that the marketing team should handle relationship-building. Good marketing campaigns bring customers to the sales team, and valuable service packages bring them back again.
Marketing teams develop the product packages that keep customers coming back. When the sales team finishes a sale, their job is done. Of course, information and feedback from the customer creates the next step, the repeat purchase and word-of-mouth. Since most businesses generate 80 percent of their income from repeat buyers, fostering those relationships is crucial.
Put the responsibility where it belongs. Make sure your sales cycle goes full circle.
- Personalize the Selling Process - Every customer is an individual. There is no such thing as one size fits all. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a sale fall through because:
- The sales team attempts to sell the "almost right" product,
- The sales team attempts to begin the sales process too early, or
- The message falls flat because it simply doesn't fit the buyer's context.
Everything boils down to communication between the marketers and the sellers. Historically, these two areas often function in a competitive fashion.
Remind your teams that selling is the goal, marketing the vehicle. Both must work together seamlessly to improve conversions, shorten the sales cycle and drive the total budget line up.