Using CRM to Align Marketing and Sales

Thomas Hanna
Manager, Demand Generation Programs

Odds are your marketing and sales teams say they’d like to be more aligned. But, without these teams operating with the same goals, information, and open communication, you’re not going to have successful alignment.

That’s why today, “51 percent of marketers are not satisfied with the level of communication between the teams and 53 percent of sales professionals are not pleased with marketing’s support,” according to a study by Pandadoc.

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While marketing is focused on creating a strong brand, acquiring new leads, and nurturing them for the handoff to sales, sales is focused on hitting their monthly or quarterly quotas.

Here’s what typically happens: marketing passes off what they deem to be a marketing qualified lead (a MQL) to sales as a potential opportunity and voila their job is done, right? Wrong. This is where the rift between these teams begin. If sales can’t convert this lead into an opportunity, they will blame marketing for handing off a bad lead. Marketing then blames sales for losing a lead they spent time and money on.

So, how can we avoid this from happening?

Enter CRM

Using a customer relationship management (CRM) software to store, collect, and track lead, opportunity, and activity information allows teams to segment leads based on industry, company size, job role, and several other pieces of qualifying information unique to your business. This ensures that you have all the information you need available to properly qualify and prioritize leads as they move through your sales funnel.

Defining lead handoff from marketing to sales

The handoff process should start with a conversation between marketing and sales to make sure that everyone agrees to what a MQL looks like. These are often leads who have:

  • Downloaded several specific pieces of content
  • Engaged with your nurture emails
  • Visited certain pages on your website
  • Fit the demographic makeup of your current customers
  • Indicated that they’d like to reach out to sales

As such, sales can focus their efforts on converting leads that are more likely to become paying customers and marketing can continue to nurture those that are not yet ready.  

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By aligning sales and marketing at this stage of the sales funnel, you can greatly improve your organizations’ performance. As stated in the Journal of Digital Asset Management, “Funnel management provides insight into which sales and marketing processes are effective and increase deal flow, as well as insight into how efficiently customer opportunities are moving through the stages of opportunity development.” In turn, marketing is able to help sales to close deals more quickly.

Setting expectations and committing to a culture of experimentation

The conversation between sales and marketing shouldn’t end here, though. It should also include what happens to a lead once it has been handed off to sales. According to Marketo, “service level agreements (SLAs) need to be outlined for each phase of the revenue cycle. When an MQL is handed off to the sales team, what happens? How long does the sales team have to make contact? What happens if they don’t? If sales recycles the lead, how long does marketing have to respond, and what is their next step?”

Since all this information is stored and easily accessible through the CRM, marketing and sales can answer these questions by reviewing the same lead information and reports. This helps to inform future content, additional requirements for nurturing leads, or new segments to pursue. It also ensures that no lead is left behind and that every lead is given a personalized experience.

By regularly examining how aligned sales and marketing are in their definitions of marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads, your business will generate and pursue the types of leads that will ultimately generate revenue for you, saving your organization time and resources.

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