Marketing and sales are different points on the same assembly line. All too often, they are compartmentalized as different departments and team within a business and function almost independently from one another. However, the more they know, understand and align with each other’s strategies, the more agency each will have in fulfilling their respective roles. Here are eight things your marketing team should know about your sales team and process to optimize their time in prospecting leads that are more likely to convert.
# 1 How Long Does the Average Sales Cycle Run?
The sales cycle varies considerably depending on what type of product or service you are marketing. Understanding how long it takes for a customer to make the decision and commit to your product enables your marketing team to tailor their strategy accordingly. For example, a product (say, a new car) that will most likely take the customer longer to commit to and has more involved with it ( such as loans, insurance, registration, credit, etc.) as compared to a magazine on a rack, (which is more of an impulse buy and therefore requires different considerations for attracting consumer attention). How long does it generally take from the customer’s first impression of the business to the time they are making the purchase? What is the path that customer walks? How many other variables or objectives might they have that need to be addressed before they can pull the proverbial trigger?
Providing your marketing team with data, such as frequency of contact data can be a tool that will help your marketing deliver higher quality leads and even potentially shorten the sales cycle.
#2 What Is the Primary Way Which Your Customers Engage With Your Business?
The way or medium the customer most frequently comes across (or even actively seeks out) your business is important for your marketing team to know. For example, if most of the revenue is generated from a digital presence, it might be a selling point that the sales representative can mention during the end-of-the-funnel conversation that follow-ups after purchase can be handled online. The customer has already shown that this is how they prefer to do business, and if it’s the type of service where there likely will be follow up (such as a continuous service), this can be a major perk. On the contrary, it’s possible that they want to be able to speak to a person when needed. If the business has the bandwidth to support this type of follow up contact, that can be communicated as a selling point in both marketing initiatives and in deal-closing conversations.
# 3 What Are Common Customer Objections For at The End Of the Sales Funnel?
Every lead created by the marketing team is a business expense. Understanding your rate of conversion, as well as what are common obstacles that make it difficult for your sales teams to close deals has several benefits. This is especially true for businesses that have longer sales cycles, as there are more points along the road that can break a deal. For example, if a call center sales representative is spending on average 30 minutes on a call and hearing the same questions repeatedly, it might be worthwhile for the marketing team to try and address those repeat questions in their marketing materials so that the consumer gets the answers earlier on in the process.
The more satisfied and knowledgeable a customer is before they engage with the business, the more likely they are to make the purchase. A bonus is that fewer questions might also mean shorter sales calls.
# 4 What Marketing Materials Does Your Sales Team Use or Refer to Frequently?
Customers reach out to your business because they have interacted with your marketing materials. As everyone is now connected to the internet 24/7 thanks to smartphones, most people will do some preliminary research before making more purchases. They are going to your sales team because they feel like your product rose about the competition’s marketing materials; a win for your marketing team.
It is critical that the sales team is briefed on the impetus and motivations (e.g., warranties, guarantees, return policy, customer service, etc.) for coming to that point.
That will better equip them to anticipate the customers’ needs and questions, and provide them with the final reassurance they need to make the purchase. Ensure your salespeople understand how the product is being promoted by your marketing team so they can carry on the conversation that the marketing team has already initiated.
# 5 What Kind of Leads Are the Ones That Sales Teams Are Happy to Get?
For about a year after college, I worked in insurance sales. Every sales representative knew when they got a customer who was a sure thing: the lead was from a state the company was competitive in, they did not have previous claims on their record, their commute was short, and/or they already had another policy with us. When a lead like this came through, the sales rep would know early on that they were going to close the deal. The marketers need to know what those high-quality leads are comprised of in the eyes of the sales team, as they are pushing the ball through the hoop, so to speak. Every one of those qualities that the sales team all knew about is a valuable insight that can be weaved into the marketing strategy: market harder in states where more competitive, offer some sort of reward for people who didn’t have accidents or losses, promote the multi-policy discount.
# 6 How “Warm” Is the Lead Before it Gets Handed Off to Sales?
Understanding the sales life cycle is a part of this point as well. That is to double check that the lead has been appropriately warmed up and nurtured before changing hands from marketing to sales. This can be read in conversion rates, as well as by having conversations with the sales team about their experiences with the leads being generated. For example, does a customer filling a quote out online warrant a call for a sales agent? If they seem ready to buy and conversion rates are solid, then that may be the case.
If, on the other hand, they seem surprised to be receiving a call from a sales representative, rather than having your sales team have a negative first interaction with a potential client, perhaps they should elect in the quote to receive a call first. Adding or reducing touch points can reduce the people who nightfall through the cracks due to a rocky handoff from marketing to sales. Also, keep in mind that a sales team that spends most the day talking with unlikely-to-convert leads can get burned out and cause turnover.
# 7 How Does the Sales Team Stay Connected with Their Customers After the Deal Has Been Closed?
Another way in which the marketing team can optimize the efficiency of the sales team is in determining how often they stay in touch with their customers and in what way (e.g., email, social media, by phone, cards on the holidays, etc.). Marketing has the capacity to take some of this follow-up burden off of the sales teams. For example, the email list which sales generate as it closes more deals can be used to send out a single, automated holiday email as opposed to having the sales team member correspond with each customer individually — a huge time saver.
A social media marketer might be able to engage with existing customers online to answer inquiries and warm up the lead even further before the handoff. If many leads are generated and converted over social media marketing, a single post might be able to address many follow-up correspondence requests in one fell swoop. There are many ways in which marketing can use its mass reach told and resources to alleviate the workload of the sales team whose time can then be reallocated to closing more new deals.
# 8 From Which Marketing Initiatives is Sales Getting Most of Their Leads?
Most marketing departments have a variety of initiatives. But the sales teams have the most information about which of these is effective enough to compel audience members to take that next step in the sales funnel process. For example, if the sales team is noticing a big uptick of activity during and shortly after a commercial was run on TV, they may be able to provide the marketing team input on bovolume as well as the quality of leads being generated. This feedback can help your marketing team concentrate on initiatives that maximize the return on investment while simultaneously improve the quality of leads.
Marketing needs to be aligned with sales to better prospect leads and continually optimize their strategies as well as the sales teams’ time. Understanding that they are both stops on the same route means that marketing has the power to preemptively overcome potential objections and hand over leads that are warm and likely to convert. Both teams need to understand the whole sales funnel — not just their part of it. Nurturing a line of open communication, consistently and over time, between marketing and sales will help your business generate high-quality leads and close more sales.