Last week, I went to Silverpop’s B2B Marketing University. As I have blogged before, I don’t write about conferences unless I can write about something interesting. This event was awesome — the content was great (not your typical BS), 180 people were in the audience, and the questions were engaging. I was having writer’s block going into the event, and I left with three posts (coming soon). Props to Silverpop.
OK, so during Malcolm Friedberg’s presentation, someone in the audience asked for advice on how to handles sales. (The actual question is not important, but it had something to do with convincing sales to let marketing nurture instead of passing the leads to them directly.) Anyway, I was sitting there thinking that, here we have Malcolm on stage talking about marketing automation processes, etc., and one of the questions that comes up is the age-old issue of the sales-marketing divide. Boom. Funnelholic blog post.
One thing I have noticed as Marketing 2.0 continues to gather steam is that all of us in the marketing blogosphere can act like dealing with sales is easy because we are all in marketing-dominated companies. But in the real world, sales is the powerful and dangerous entity. That’s not an insult. That’s reality. Sales is on the front line — they are type-A, aggressive, unforgiving folks. It’s rare to find a place where marketing is in the catbird’s seat.
If you don’t have sales on board, however, you will have NO ROI. So act, don’t complain.
So, here is how you know you have a problem with sales:
- Sales tells you that you suck — Do I need to explain?
- Sales ignores you completely — Sales is a “you are either helping me or in the way” type of crew, so if they view you as being in the way (fairly or not), prepare to be ignored.
- Sales tells everyone you suck, but not to your face — It’s amazing how many sales leaders are passive-aggressive, but I see it all the time. Which leads to …
- Sales is really nice to you: Beware of smiling sales management.
Here is how you tell you have a good relationship:
- When leads don’t convert, they look into what they can do about it. Good.
- They ask for more of your leads. Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!
Here are 5 things you should do to foster a healthy sales-marketing relationship:
1. Have a meeting: I know this sounds obvious, but here is my point. If things are bad, then have a meeting. If you are starting the relationship, have a meeting. In the meeting, tell sales the following:
- MARKETING will create an infrastructure (nurturing, phone) to pass qualified leads to the sales team. (Again, stop passing raw inquiries to sales.)
- MARKETING AND SALES will AGREE on a unified lead definition to live by.
- SALES will sign an SLA that, if MARKETING hits the unified lead definition, they will follow up an agreed amount of times.
- MARKETING AND SALES will meet at least biweekly to optimize the program.
- MARKETING AND SALES WILL get along.
2. Create a unified lead definition: I give Brian Carroll the credit for this term, but gurus like Stu Silverman have been making the lead definition the key to sales and marketing success for years. Here is the essence: sit down with sales and AGREE on the definition of a lead — what marketing passes to the sales team. Look, sales will forget — particularly when one an account executives complains — but you can always refer back to it. When sales comes back and says, “none of your leads are closing,” offer to revisit the lead definition. Keep in mind that the lead definition dictates volume, and when you discuss definitions, you have to make sure sales understands the volume implications.
3. The sales SLA: When you agree to a unified lead definition, you also need to agree on sales’ activities after you pass them a qualified lead. Do this. It’s only fair.
4. Have weekly sync-up meetings: You can do this biweekly, if necessary. Just don’t let it slip. Don’t just talk about the numbers, talk anecdotally. Remind everyone that the meeting must be honest but not accusatory, because the wheels can fall off these meetings very easily if you are not careful. On the other hand, they can’t be a meaningless rubber stamp either. Optimization is a two-way street.
5. Just try to get along: I hate to say it, but if you are the marketer, you have to lead this charge. Sales is always moving, so have a plan and instigate peace. Both sides will win as a result.