by Amber Foster
Successful inbound marketing strategies implement a methodology commonly called Smarketing, the combined efforts of both your marketing and sales team to generate leads, nurture leads and close customers.
Today, many companies have a hard time connecting their sales and marketing teams together. Too often they are siloed into two separate, and often competing departments. To create a stable and lasting partnership between the two teams requires a strategic approach that treats them as a single, revenue-generating organization, not adversaries. Here are a few tips to help you create your own Smarketing Department.
Create a Lead Qualifying Process
Creating a lead qualifying process for your company is important and will help you determine when to send qualified leads to the sales team. The qualifying process helps align the marketing goals to the sales quotas. Here are a few questions you can work through with your team:
- How strong is the prospects need for your services?
- Does the prospect have a budget that qualifies?
- Are decision makers part of the sales process?
- Do you know the timetable for their purchase decision?
Meet and Review Leads with the Sales Team
Reviews should be regularly conducted at a time span works best for your team; weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly. During the lead review meetings, the goal should be to assess how each department can understand and support the goals of the other departments. From the sales team’s perspective, you want to continue to improve the leads that are provided to them as “Sales Qualified Leads.” Some question you can ask your sales team:
- What does your sales process look like?
- What qualities make a lead good or bad?
- Do leads typically have the right expectations about what they’re getting?
- Are there specific marketing offers that signify a particularly strong or weak lead?
- What are the top reasons a lead doesn’t close?
- Are there any ways marketing can help or do better?
- What does a bad lead look like?
- Why do great clients stay with you and make repeat business?
Coach the Sales Team Tactics that Close Inbound Leads
What should your sales team say to a lead that has come from the marketing strategies? Because the sales team is being handed marketing and sales qualified leads, the sale members will have a wealth of information at their fingertips to improve the communications.
During a conversation with a lead, your sales team should consider some communication guidelines:
First, mention the form or download that was used to generate the lead’s contact information. For example, “We just received the form you submitted on our website asking for more information about our marketing services. What can I help you with today?”
Next, ask open-ended questions such as “How? Who? What? When? Where? Why?” Questions should not be sales related. Rather, the sales person’s goal is to begin the consultative sales process. Examples of open-ended questions:
- “How do you execute your marketing strategy?”
- Who currently handles your marketing efforts?
- What are your biggest marketing challenges?
- Why did you decide to reach out to our company for help?
Identify the issues that a lead is having and be the solution. The goal of the consultative sales process is to find out how to be of value to the lead. Focus on challenges or pain points and provide a solution that will help them meet their business goals. This methodology is sometimes called “solution-based selling.” Remember that the conversation should not be about you, your numbers or your products.
Continue sending the lead through the lifecycle stages. A future contact date should be scheduled during this initial conversation. If your sales person does not connect with a lead, the lead should be placed into a workflow that includes a plan for further nurturing.
Create a Service Level Agreement (SLA)
Create a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between sales & marketing to determine the number of leads that marketing will pass to the sales team. How many leads should be given to each sales rep? This answer will depend on your company’s revenue goals. Our inbound ROI calculator can help you calculate how many leads marketing should pass onto sales each month. You can determine if your inbound strategy is on track by comparing your conversion rates with industry benchmarks.
The chart above shows that the average visitor to MQL rate can range from 1% to 2.5%, while the visitor to customer rate can vary from .25% to more than 1%. If your business generates less than the targeted number of leads each month, the goal should be to generate more leads! Set the number of leads that will be passed to the marketing team each day, week or month, then review these leads regularly.