Marketing automation software, such as Marketo and Pardot, have simplified tracking repeat web visitors, lead scoring and lead nurturing with email drip campaigns. While tracking and nurturing web visitors until they have enough information to become viable sales leads is easier, one problem remains. Without sales team and marketing team coordination, the type of leads delivered may not meet the sales team’s needs.
Last week I spoke with a field sales executive for an Atlanta software company, at an anonymous coffee shop. Sales Executive X has sold to major clients and he’s led teams of sales people. He relates that, “There are often times when the marketing team launches marketing initiatives. They send out materials to clients. Sales people then realize they’ve never heard of a marketing announcement, when clients start asking them questions that they’re not prepared to answer. Sometimes there is a disconnect between marketing and sales department within the same company”.
The obvious cure for these miscommunications is for the marketing team leaders and sales team leaders to communicate with each other on a quarterly or even monthly basis. In sales organizations where the salespeople are often under pressure to run as hard to land a $2,500 client as a $250,000 client, salespeople often have no time to research what the marketing department is currently promoting to potential customers. The marketing team can solve this problem by updating the sales team with every new issue of collateral or each new online initiative.
Marketing action is often not helping sales unless they are communicating with each other to set priorities. It is important for salespeople to be in touch with the product managers and research and development team. Occasionally, leaders will bring the sales team and marketing team together for discussion, but the best result comes from meeting on a regular time table.
For example, one company that Sales Executive X worked with decided to reward salespeople who shared customer insights with the marketing department with a $500 incentive. This initiative was mentioned once in 2004 and never mentioned again.
How much better would it be to have these meetings and solicit customer insights on a quarterly basis. But X cautions that, “There is a real danger that these meetings can turn into bitch sessions on past occasions where marketing and sales did not communicate”. It’s better if both teams assume that the other team has positive intentions. The most productive approach will be to use a questioning method to learn about problem points and analyze why they are happening.
There’s is tremendous value in bringing understanding between sales and marketing teams. Sales Executive X insisted that, “If there is a salesperson who consistently provides innovative product suggestions to the marketing and product design team, perhaps that person would serve a greater good in the organization being the liaison between customers and product design and marketing”.
By the same token, marketing teams can regularly update sales teams right before they launch a new marketing campaign. The marketing team can take an active role in approaching the sales team to learn the true criteria for a desirable sales lead. Often, sales calls can be more fruitful if the marketing team can send new leads with detailed information about the customer and their readiness to buy. You can make a huge difference in your organization by bridging this information gap.
When was the last time that your sales team landed a lead from the marketing process? Does your marketing team understand the sort of customers that your field sales people really want and need? Share your stories with us.