« Aligning marketing and sales across the sales funnel only aligns teams – creating better business results, » said Mathew Sweezey, Insights Marketing Director at Salesforce. Its position is validated by a study by SiriusDecisions, which found that brands with closely aligned sales and marketing operations achieve a three-year faster revenue growth by 24% and a three-year faster profit growth. The three simplest ways to ensure sales success and alignment are a common language, co-created shared programs, and a service agreement policy.
First, it is necessary to establish a common language to ensure that marketers know when a lead needs to be moved out of marketing control and placed in the sales funnel. There are two terms, « qualified marketing lead » (MQL) and « qualified sales lead » (SQL) or « accepted sales lead », which all sales channels must incorporate to keep both teams aligned. When marketing has an advantage ready to talk to sales, the advantage must be marked as an MQL, which means that marketing has reached the point where I think it should take over sales. If the sales agree, the lead is ready to sell, accept the lead and move it from MQL to SQL (or SAL), and the transfer is complete. If not, management returns to marketing.
The definitions of MQL and SQL (SAL) must be expressed and agreed in a service level agreement (SLA). The SLA sets out the terms of how sales and marketing will work together. The SLA should define what MQL and SQL look like, as well as specify the time frame and process that each team must follow. For example, an MQL has a score of 75 through a combination of content engagement and web engagement and fits the ideal customer profile. Must be accepted for sales or sent back to market within 24 hours of award. The SLA should be drafted jointly by the marketing and sales management and signed by both parties.
Beyond terms and processes, one of the best ways brands can align both sales and marketing is through shared programs, such as account-based marketing (ABM) and business promotion. In 2018, Salesforce Research found that successful marketing organizations are 1.5 times more likely to use ABM methods and 1.9x more likely to use lead activities than poorly performing marketing organizations. They are « shared programs » because marketing and sales should work together to create them. Marketing manages technology and configuration while sales choose targets and help create content. Sharing when creating programs allows sales to feel ownership of the programs, increasing their use and overall efficiency.
How does the sales funnel change?
The changing nature of marketing and sales means that sales channels need to constantly adapt.
As Michael Bosworth, the author of Selling, points out in the documentary « Story of Sales, » sales were about persuasion, persuasion, overcoming resistance, handling objections, and closing the sale.
« Today, my definition of selling is helpful [people]. It helps the client achieve a goal, solve a problem or satisfy a need, ”said Bosworth.
The ways in which prospects and customers interact with businesses are also changing. Many now prefer email, social media and other digital channels. Organizing phone calls and in-person visits has become more difficult.
However, video conferencing and other applications offer the ability to engage prospects at a time and place that suits them. In fact, 60% of sales representatives say they spend more time practically selling than they did in 2015, according to the third edition of Salesforce’s global « State of Sales » study. Meanwhile, 52% of sales representatives say they spend the same amount of time or less meeting with customers in person.