Closing the gap between sales and marketing

Sales and marketing have never been easy bedfellows — and yet for most businesses, sales and marketing fall into one bucket — with the sales and the marketing activities performed by one person or one team. And while both sales and marketing have a single aim — to increase revenue for your business — the approach and focus of each is quite different.

Marketing is quite broad, covering everything from branding to customer experience, demand generation to market research, new product development to packaging, advertising and web, and increasingly a combination of social media, analytics and lead nurturing. Sales, however, is much more narrowly focused, concerned with pipeline management (actual customers interested in your products and services), high touch interactions that help customers consider and commit to purchase and the closure of those sales against targets.

Yet, in a social media world, these lines are blurring. Marketers can sell and sales people can market. So let’s take a look at what we can do to close the gap between sales and marketing.

  • Speaking the same language – You will see this mentioned in articles across the web—the need for marketing and sales to have a shared terminology. Make it simple within your business. Take half an hour, get your sales and marketing teams into a room and agree the basics: what is a lead, what is a customer and who is responsible.
  • Agree handover points – Once you have terminology sorted, you need to agree how to handle your customers (or prospects). Come up with a simple process that not only communicates that you have prospects for your sales teams, but ensure that you are also handing over responsibility for the relationship with that prospect to the sales person. Where possible, explain this to your customer.
  • Work to the same goal – Your sales team will have significant targets for closed sales. Determine the close rate ratio of your leads so that you can then gain a sense of how many leads your marketing teams need to generate. If you close 10% of your leads and you need to sell $1 million, then you know that your pipeline has to be 10x that figure.
  • Build advocacy and loyalty into the relationship – Once your sale is complete, ensure you have a process that hands back that relationship back to your marketers. You want to build a relationship based on a positive customer experience—and advocacy and loyalty programs (especially those powered by social media or “social CRM”) can dramatically improve word of mouth, referrals and customer acquisition costs.
  • Measure and improve – When sales go south we look for someone to blame. If you have invested in your teams, in their training and in their customer relationships, wholesale changes to personnel can put you even further behind after a bad quarter. Re-investigate your analytics, determine what can be improved and use the data to make decisions that improve your marketing and sales process.