According to an article on Forbes.com:
“50% of B2B sales staff keep missing their quotas!”
That’s half your sales force. But what’s the reason for this apparent poor performance?
If you ask sales, they may blame marketing for generating rubbish leads. And if you ask marketing, they’ll probably argue that sales don’t try hard enough to close.
So who’s right?
Actually, if we’re talking about the health of your bottom line, it really doesn’t matter. The fact is, for each day that your sales and marketing departments are out of alignment, your business is hemorrhaging money. And lots of it…
Here’s some proof.
A Sales and Marketing Alignment report written by Aberdeen Research in September 2010 found that companies with “Best-in-Class” sales and marketing alignment achieved: “20% average growth (increase) in company annual revenue, as compared to a 4% average decrease among Laggard organizations.”
Which brings me to some good news…
If your sales and marketing departments are currently on different planets, busy quarrelling and blaming each other – you’ll discover there’s a huge, lucrative business opportunity just waiting to be exploited – if you can get the two sides working towards a similar goal.
Let’s explore this idea further…
I need better leads please?
Whilst it’s true that sales leads drive the sales process, as you know, it’s not a just a simple case of more leads = mores sales.
That’s because the quality of leads is crucial.
You may attract a large number of people into the front of your sales pipeline, but if a large majority of them will NEVER be your customer (i.e. they’re not decision-makers or they don’t fit your buyers’ persona), you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and effort. Here’s how:
- Wasted sales effort will be spent nurturing customers who will never close
- Marketing budget is wasted attracting people who are not a good fit for your business model.
- It will be harder for sales quotas to be achieved (which, in turn, can lead to frustration and a dip in motivation)
But if sales and marketing are aligned, different outcomes can be achieved.
For example, if sales feeds back to marketing with:
- Updates about the questions prospects are asking
- The type of people who are making the buying decision and
- The pitfalls and stumbling blocks they are encountering during the sales process
Marketing chiefs can respond by reviewing marketing materials and promotional campaigns so that they specifically address these issues.
After all, marketing’s job is to help raise awareness of your product/service and also help prospects self-select. When marketing is done well, it will strike a cord with your idea buyers who will automatically be drawn to your business.
And this works in the opposite direction too. Marketing material should also deter people who fall outside of your tightly defined buyer persona. In turn, whilst you may attract less leads, the conversion rate is likely to be significantly higher, simply because sales teams are able to talk with people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
Alignment Will Increase Your Pipeline Velocity and Closure Rate
Fortunately, there are some useful metrics you can measure to give you a clear idea of the quality of the leads your business is generating. There are your:
- Pipeline velocity – the speed at which leads turn into closed sales
- Closure rate – the percentage of sales closed in relation to the number of leads that enter your sales pipeline
As a general rule, the longer a prospect remains within your sales pipeline, the less chance that lead has of closing. Therefore, it makes sense to streamline your pipeline to ensure prospects move seamlessly along it, whilst ensuring an acceptable percentage actually closes.
It helps if you visualize and map out your sales process and define each stage carefully. Next, you need to get an idea of the length of time it takes to move from one stage to the next. If you break your pipeline down into individual sections, you’ll be able to see where the leaks and sticking points are.
Again, sales and marketing alignment can help increase pipeline velocity and closure rate. If sales are able to identify leaks, marketing can review the marketing material available to help:
- Plug the leaks
- Recycle prospects back into your pipeline and
- Identify opportunities to help prospects convert more quickly
Sales and Marketing Alignment Will Reduce the Cost of a Sale
Finally, if sales and marketing work together to:
- Increase the quality of leads
- Ensure marketing materials and sales process are in place to move prospects along as quickly as possible
Not only will your closure rate increase, but your cost per sale could decline too.
That’s because better quality leads means a higher ROI on your marketing budget as well as the opportunity to increase your closure rate (because sales can focus on a higher percentage of people who are genuine potential customers).
What do you think?
Have you been focusing on sales and marketing alignment in your business? Have you seen a positive impact on your closure rate, quality of leads and pipeline velocity as a result of encouraging these two vital departments to talk with each other?
Please let me know in the comments below.