(Editor’s note: Adam Blitzer is co-founder and COO of Pardot. He submitted this story to VentureBeat.)
Let’s face it: marketing and sales usually don’t play nice. Like siblings, they behave for the neighbors (clients and partners), but behind closed doors it’s the blame game. Marketing says sales does a poor job turning leads into customers; sales says marketing provides lousy leads in the first place.
To change this dynamic, all that a clever entrepreneur needs are the right tools, some guidance and a little motivation. In this day and age, innovative technology and a little forward-looking thinking can settle the sales/marketing sibling rivalry once and for all. Here are five ways to make the two work better together.
The perfect prospect – Marketing generates quality leads and gives them to sales. Simple, right? It should be, but there’s no such thing as a perfect prospect. The first step in lead qualification–evaluating a lead–is establishing the definition of your company’s perfect lead. Marketing and sales should each have its own criteria in mind… but be open to hearing the other group’s thoughts as well. This way, marketing will gain an understanding of what sales is looking for, and sales will trust marketing to set them up with worthwhile prospects. Once this is established, marketing should have no problem filtering through the noise and hooking sales up with great leads.
Let them make the first move – A start-up with limited resources can’t afford to have its sales team making cold calls all day. That’s why marketing needs to deliver qualified leads – prospects that actively sought information about your company and product. Pairing a solid content strategy with some behind-the-scenes tracking software, marketing can find the leads that are responding positively to campaigns.
Hold their hand – Even if sales and marketing work well together, things can go wrong. Sales, for instance, may keep getting the same response from leads: “We’re not ready to to make a decision.”
Because sales is most concerned with meeting this month’s quota, they toss these “bad” leads aside and move on. The leads may have been good, but the timing wasn’t right. Marketing can step in with a little bit of technology and help sales put these leads on a nurturing program. If you encourage prospects – without pushing to hard – you can keep those leads warm until they are ready to become customers.
Change your game – Once your start-up is growing, you’re going to start getting interest from clients in industries outside of your comfort zone. This is a great sign of progress and success, but it also means it’s time for a new game plan. Sales isn’t going to be successful using the same messaging for these prospects.
Entrepreneurs can overcome this issue by going back to step one (define the perfect lead), but this time, develop multiple lead profiles that address the characteristics of customers from each industry you’re targeting. The marketing team can then build customized materials for each profile, and sales can create a more tailored pitch.
This place has the best leads in town – After a while, it’s going to become evident that your best leads come from a few key sources. Try to establish these channels as soon as possible and capitalize on them.
With a lengthy sales cycle and so many leads coming in, it might be hard to track from where the best ones originated. Fortunately, this is the information age and you can take advantage of software designed to easily track ROI throughout the sales cycle. Marketing should spend time evaluating each source and then allocate spending accordingly, eliminating inefficient channels.