Forget the Hatfields and McCoys — the feud between marketing and sales teams has to be the most legendary of all time. You’ve heard the complaints a million times, whether you own a business or work for one.
Digital Marketing Team: “The sales team is wasting the leads we send them! We worked so hard to drive traffic and get leads in the door, and you guys can’t convert!”
Sales Team: “These leads are terrible! Nobody could convert leads that aren’t relevant, and these people don’t even need what we’re selling. And sometimes there are slow days with barely any leads at all!”
…and on it goes. Yet, at Marketingism we’ve consistently found that the most successful companies are the ones that not only don’t have tension between their marketing and sales efforts — they operate on the exact same page. This concept seems painfully obvious, but implementing that atmosphere is harder than it seems. Here are some tips to connect your marketing and sales efforts, so that your business can be as successful as possible.
One thing that everyone can do to get sales and marketing on the same page is to understand the inherent difficulties in digital marketing (or marketing in general). Yes, of course, a strong digital marketing team will be able to optimize a campaign’s efforts over time to help inbound leads be more and more relevant, and more likely to convert. A responsible marketing team will be rigorously collecting data to understand what types of leads are currently being attracted, and will be A/B testing various strategies to find out what performs best. If a marketing team is not doing these things, they deserve the criticism they receive.
However, it’s also important to understanding that digital marketing is a lot like fishing. Some days, despite having the best bait, taking the boat out to the most fertile part of the lake, and having the patience of a saint, there will still be no bites. Or, you might get what feels like a big bite… but you reel it in, and it’s somebody’s old shoe. This is the eternal frustration of marketers, in that there is an element of randomness to who responds to your efforts — in the short term.
Over the long term, marketers should be (and are) held responsible to the amount and quality of leads that they drive. This correlates strongly to the law of large numbers and the idea of sample size. A day, or a week of poor results does not necessarily reflect the effort being put in. However, a quarter’s worth of bad results just might have some reflection on the campaign’s execution. You can harmonize with your marketing team a lot better by understanding this, and not getting stressed out if there is a day or two in a row with too few or poor quality leads.
On the flip side, while marketers are uber-sensitive to the natural fluctuation in quantity and quality of their leads, they too often have unrealistic expectations about sales’ ability to convert. Sometimes, digital marketers in particular can become so fixated on data sets, charts, graphs, and ROI that they forget the human component involved in sales. It’s easy to forget that behind each click, each form submission, and each social media bite lies an actual person. And each person is going to have their own unique quirks, needs, and sales style that they are receptive to.
It’s also important for marketers to realize that yes, sometimes the leads you’re driving won’t be ideally convertible for stretches at a time. This can be frustrating to a sales team that often works on commission and simply hopes for a fair chance at converting the leads that are sent their way. Given this perspective, it’s easy to see how sales can sometimes feel like the game is “rigged” against them if they haven’t seen good quality leads for a few days.
It’s the oldest cliche in the book, but it exists for a reason. The best way to harmonize and connect marketing and sales efforts is to be crystal clear about what’s currently working for both sides, and what’s not. Often, marketers will have lots of good number-based data that they can get extremely granular with. Sales, on the other hand, will often have super valuable anecdotal and person-specific experience that can let the company know on a grass-roots level exactly what type of people are currently engaging.
Communication is a fantastic way to help both sides optimize their approach. Perhaps marketing was including a certain demographic that they thought was appropriate, but that sales has discovered simply doesn’t convert. Or, maybe marketing has evidence to show that there is a ton of search traffic for a product, area, or demographic that sales was under-valuing. Either way, an open channel of communication will help everyone stay on the same page, and keep things from turning into a blame-fest.
One of the main things that you might hear marketing request is the desire to have the sales team treat every single phone call, form submission, or social media bite like gold. For a salesperson who answers the phone, there can sometimes be a tendency to forget how much work goes into making that phone ring each time in the first place. Company-wide awareness of a general dollar value of each phone call can be an eye-opening exercise, if you feel it’s appropriate to disclose that at your workplace.
Ask commission-based salespeople to imagine how hard they would work on staying organized and following up with each lead if the phone only rang 3 times a day, for example. It’s a good reminder that salespeople can always work on improving their tenacity and demeanor to convert more “gray area” leads. There will always be slam-dunk easy leads that sell themselves, and there will always be somewhat junky leads that never had a chance. The real distinction lies in the middle ground where the lead could go either way.
On the other hand, marketers are notoriously defensive about their marketing efforts. When you’re already driving leads, it can feel insulting or annoying to a marketer to have additional demands placed on top of that. After all, it’s not easy to bring leads in the door in the first place. However, the fact is that marketing — and digital marketing in particular — contains virtually infinite room for improvement, optimization, and refinement.
This optimization can clearly come in the form of either quantity or quality. As a marketer, you should be constantly staying on top of your field and learning about groundbreaking ways of advertising or reaching your targeted customer. If you’re not learning when it comes to digital marketing, you’re losing. There will always be a competitor who is experimenting more, more open-minded, or more driven in terms of their data collection methods.
By keeping these things in mind, you can make sure that sales and marketing put their egos aside and work together for the company’s benefit — instead of trying to point the finger at each other.
And of course, if you need help with either digital marketing or sales, you can always contact the veterans at Marketingism to discuss a unique strategy for your own business.