The habits of consumers, or of supplier companies in B2B markets, have evolved rapidly. What about the old sales techniques? Someone starts to question even those. Because in many cases the process no longer works or starts to jam somewhere. Let’s try to understand together if this gap between companies and customers depends on the marketing department or the sales department. Go Sales Team, go Marketing Team. The historic organizational division between these two corporate departments turns many companies into an internal competition to claim successes and decline failures. For this reason, in the most modern organizational models, the coordination between these two functions goes far beyond the mere (but necessary) definition of common objectives. Put simply, marketing aims to draw attention to the company and its products, while sales take action to cultivate a personalized conversation with the person making the purchasing decision, then offering the right solution at the right time. Although these two functions seem totally complementary, the literature that describes the relationship between marketing and sales in competitive and non-synergistic terms is wasted. A research by the Corporate Executive Board took care of measuring the level of understanding between the two departments: 87% of the terms used by marketing and sales to describe each other are negative. The two objections that the two departments complain most often are: Contacts passed to the sales team if they don’t convert immediately disappear from the company’s radar; The leads processed by sales are not yet ready for purchase and there is little information about them. In small and medium-sized companies, where sales and marketing personnel are often united in a single department, the gap seems to be primarily cultural . “87% of the terms marketing and sales use to describe each other are negative.” Marketing and sales are simply two sides of the same coin: that of profit. The faster this concept spreads within companies, the faster a productive relationship can be established between these two traditionally opposed teams. The study by Hugh Macfarlane , founder of align.me, reports that companies that have the greatest possible degree of alignment between the two departments : They grow 5.4 points higher than their less aligned industry counterparts They close 38% more of the proposals They lose 36% fewer customers than competitors Marketing and sales, while maintaining their own identity, thus activate a virtuous circle by optimizing information, time and resources. Any company can activate it, size does not matter in this case: in a small business it can center around the marketing or sales manager, but as the company grows, it is possible to choose leaders within the marketing and sales to scale processes and improve alignment. “Fiiigoo… But how do you do it?” 1. FIRST, SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE: It is essential to distinguish marketing leads from sales leads. If we follow the principles of inbound marketing, it becomes easy to clarify and adapt to your business the distinction between contact and qualified lead ready for sale. Visitors / Prospects . These are contacts such as site visitors for whom we do not have specific information. Leads . A contact who has completed a form in exchange for an offer of content, such as an ebook, white paper that allows you to get an early indication of his interest. Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL), are those leads who have shown interest in buying, but do not give a guarantee. A bit like someone who stops in front of a shop window and examines all the items from the outside. An example is given by those who have sent an email to get further information or who have loaded items from our e-commerce into their cart. They are open to the idea of a sale and have made a first move without closing the transaction. Sales Qualified Leads (SQL), are leads that the sales team has determined are suitable for direct follow-up after thorough examination. They are leads that marketing deems to be ready for a sale, unlike MQLs who need further wooing. Opportunities . Once sales have flagged an MQL as SQL, their goal is to move towards an opportunity. An opportunity is a SQL that a sales rep has spoken to and has been recognized as a potential customer. Clients . It is the final phase of the funnel, where the opportunity is reported as a customer and the sale is closed. If a contact or market niche has not yet shown interest in your company, marketing should take steps to stimulate interest, for example through lead nurturing strategies . 2. TECHNOLOGY The need to manage and align marketing and sales also comes through embracing technologies and processes that enable new and customer interactions to develop. The sales department needs constant and updated information from the sales network to do its job well, and vice versa. There are many tools, more or less expensive, that can greatly improve the acquisition and flow of internal communication. How does Close-Loop Reporting improve conversion rates between marketing and sales at each stage of the funnel? Analyzing which marketing action generates the most customers. By understanding which content contributes most to converting to a customer. With an updated history of all the interactions a contact had before becoming an MQL or a customer (downloaded content, opened emails, etc.) Passing all important information to salespeople on time (according to a Hardvard University study, 24 hours is the ideal time to get the maximum level of conversion) 3. SLA – SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENT If the relationship and communication between marketing and sales suffers, the growth of the company will suffer as well. This is where “clear agreements” are needed. The SLA (Service Level Agreement) is a real agreement shared by both teams in which for each level of service each team undertakes to perform specific tasks to support the other. We talk about numbers and responsibilities. This agreement is intended to align both teams around the same revenue goals. For example, the marketing versus sales SLA will define how many MQLs are to be provided. The sales SLA requires the sales team to commit to a specific number of MQL follow-ups. Don’t be afraid to use data: only in this way can both departments understand if the objectives are being achieved and, if not, understand what went wrong and how it can be fixed. 4. SET UP CLOSE-LOOP REPORTING (CLR) Close-Loop Reporting completes the feedback loop between marketing and sales. This system allows you to pass more contact information and data to the sales team, and to get more feedback from sales on the results produced by marketing actions. For example, if every MQL passed to sales is not actually qualified for sale and this is not communicated to marketing, marketing will continue to produce low quality MQL. 5. MAINTAIN EXTREMELY OPEN COMMUNICATION Establish the frequency with which to discuss results (and respect it!), as an opportunity to highlight successes, share important product/service updates, discuss new strategies. The periodicity depends on the number of contacts managed, the duration of the sales process, the amount of information collected and integrated, etc.