In many small to medium sized business there seems to be little if any direct connection between marketing programs and sales teams. This is reflected in the lack of impact of marketing programs. Last week I was speaking with one of my customers who is totally revamping their marketing efforts, slowly bringing marketing expertise in-house in an effort to align their out of house marketing services and their in house sales teams which are often not synchronized in their processes and goals. But I wonder if that will create the synergy that they are looking to achieve. They are finding that the great creative programs that they have implemented in the past has not been enough to keep the sales pipeline full. Or rather they aren’t sure exactly what has been contributing to the sales pipeline. Is it the inadequate marketing that they suspect they are getting on the outside, or deficient lead management practices internally that keep getting in the way? It is easier to blame someone else but is it the right decision?
Business-to-business marketing has been utilizing leads from an ever-expanding array of channels in a complex purchase-decision process. Direct response, social media, print, mass market broadcast, outdoor, mobile, the list of channels that are employed are dizzying. Not everyone is using the power of integrated marketing to improve sales. And yet all these media channels often employed with competing messages are supposed to contribute to lead generation and sales, yet many marketers in and out of house have none or inefficient processes and a lack of knowledge of what moves their customer-prospect base to making a purchasing decision. Often times this information can be gained from the sales staff and implemented as a part of the marketing process but the 2 teams need to work together in harmony to achieve this end.
Marketing needs to fill the sales pipeline on a continuous basis new leads, customer acquisitions, sales, and revenue growth. Leads need to be acquired, ranked, passed on to sales and the outcomes monitored. Marketing and sales departments often tangle over the old arguments where sales contends that marketing doesn’t generate good leads and marketing claims that sales doesn’t follow up on all the leads. Good processes and procedures can help break down this divide by establishing sales processes that avoid contacting the most promising leads and ignoring others thereby avoiding missing opportunities that are often less than obvious, in leads that are never contacted or contacted too late to make them viable. Evaluating leads in a more systematic way and tracking leads throughout the purchase-decision process of lead acquisition, customer acquisition, sales, and revenue growth.
Marketing automation can help but aligning the sale and marketing departments with common goals will help complete the sales life cycle. Synchronize the efforts of cross-functional teams from sales and marketing, evaluate your systems and procedures against industry best practices, make sure sufficient qualified personnel are assigned to these marketing tasks and that they have sufficient time and authority to accomplish their mission. Utilize analytics with tools like web dashboards and make sure initial data is sound and hopefully the ROI of your marketing programs will soar.