November 1, 2016
Sales and Marketing Team Structure
It’s a story that’s been told again and again: “Sales doesn’t even call the leads we send them.” - Marketing “Marketing thinks these are actually leads? They’ve never sold anything in their life.” - Sales The two don’t seem to get each other, and often they’re put in situations where they aren’t encouraged to collaborate or communicate. It’s like _Sales is from Mars and Marketing is from Venus _(apologies, I wish I had a better analogy here, but it fits!). The end result is a misalignment that leads to subpar results and both parties pursuing different paths to auger in on what really matters—closing deals and growing revenue. Today I want to help marketers navigate this rocky relationship. I’m going to give insight into what your sales team really wants from you. It’s what you’d expect; but with the why behind the story and more clarity on the what.
1. Take prospects through the first half of funnel. This is almost all we want.
I remember long ago, a phone conversation with a lead I knew was qualified. She fit our target persona, and her business needed what we offered. The only problem? Our conversation was the first touch; she didn’t have a general idea of what our company did and what it could do for her. What could have been a 30-45 day sales cycle immediately turned into a 4-5 month sales cycle. This is where marketing comes in. Your sales team wants you to handle this product education, and that starts with getting people to visit your website and engage with your value proposition until they’re ready for a sales conversation. Or in other words, it’s your job to handle the first half of the funnel. The first half of the funnel consists of lead generation, lead qualification, and lead nurturing. If your marketing team doesn’t handle these tasks, it falls to your sales team. This in turn exponentially lengthens the sales cycle as it now includes the marketing/awareness cycle as well. I personally like and enjoy the pioneering aspect of seeking out new business, but my skill set (and your sales team’s skillset) is closing deals. Generating awareness and getting qualified leads isn’t our thing. That’s your thing. The worst case scenario is your sales team taking marketing into their own hands by pulling together an old school account-based strategy and sending prospecting emails, which get very very very low response rates. The solution here is to own your half of the funnel. And trust your sales team to own theirs.
2. Drop people in their laps who are willing to talk to them
In a typical B2B sales cycle, leads will do a mix of talking to their friends, researching you online, consuming your content, and talking to a salesperson before making a purchase. There’s a natural handoff that happens when a lead hops on the phone with someone. The human-to-human element is introduced, and your salespeople can tailor your product story to match the person’s situation. A scheduling tool like Calendly is a hassle-free way for leads to book meetings with your sales team. You can insert a “schedule a working session” link into your onboarding emails or lead nurturing journeys. Contacts will be able to self-qualify and essentially say “Hey, I’m ready to talk to a salesperson.” Your sales team will thrive on calls with people who a) match your target persona, b) are considering buying and c) want to talk to them. Anything before that is first half of the funnel territory, and they can simply recycle these leads back into marketing’s court for further education/timing. Asking you to “drop people into our laps” sounds almost lazy. It’s not. Your sales team just wants to leverage their strengths. Sales is hard, competitive work, and your team’s time is better spent closing deals rather than generating leads. For example, I was recently at a very boring corporate mixer and a marketing friend happily introduced someone to me telling them “You need to talk to Scott about Autopilot.” We struck up a conversation and it eventually (and naturally) turned into a deal. My marketing friend understood the persona and fit of her contact and simply matched her up with me. That’s what dropping leads into your sales team’s lap means. Think of it as a warm intro from marketing to sales.
3. Send them a reliable number of leads (like a steady faucet)
Your sales team would love nothing more than to be on the phone with inbound qualified leads all day, every day. Unfortunately, your typical salesperson’s time is spent deciding which unqualified lead to call next, and then leaving voicemails because those same unqualified leads aren’t ready to engage right now. Your sales team is relying on you to do your part and not buy a spammy list then call it a day. The ideal situation is you send sales a reliable number of leads daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly. This helps your sales leadership to plan for the right headcount, and also for the team to have a steady pipeline to sell to so they can hit their targets. Plus, they’ll just plain love you.
Sales and marketing symbiosis
It’s important to understand that the marketing and sales relationship is symbiotic; the two teams need each other to accomplish your organization’s common goals. If there’s a disconnect between the two in your company right now, take the initiative and get both teams together in the same room to figure out how you’re going to create a seamless customer experience. Because at the end of the day, your potential customers see you as one team. Not marketing. Not sales. But as one, unified team.