Tag Archives: sales cycle

3 Steps to Sales and Marketing Alignment

6 February 2017 smashdeck Comments Off on 3 Steps to Sales and Marketing Alignment Sales Growth

I have a unique perspective about sales and marketing alignment having worked on both sides of the table. Sales perspective is that marketing isn’t working hard enough to fill their pipeline and marketing thinks sales is lazy. It’s true. Just ask about any salesperson or marketer and they will tell you the same.

Instead of living in mutual dissatisfaction, try these 3 steps for sales and marketing alignment:

1. Set Expectations

Initially sales and marketing should define their buyer personas, together, not separately. A clear understanding of personas and ideal sales targets will lead to less frustration later on. There will be no squawking about unqualified leads from either team if personas and sales targets are mutually identified and agreed to.

Identify what a Lead, Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) are. There is often disconnect between sales and marketing teams about when a Lead should be converted to a MQL or what exactly happens when a Lead becomes a SQL. Define the process, draw out a workflow, and agree to it just as you have done with buyer personas.

2. Align Goals

Miscommunication is unfortunately the downfall of many relationships – sales and marketing included. Save yourself the grief and nip it in the bud. Marketing automation tools like HubSpot simplifies this process and communicates the advantages of marketing, specifically when it comes to desired outcomes.

sales-marketing-alignmentNext, marketing and sales should create a Service Level Agreement (SLA). A SLA is an agreement between the two teams on what leads marketing needs to produce to reach a sales goal. A SLA isn’t a contract. It’s a working document. It should be looked at, updated, and refined continuously.

The process of working together on results is sometimes more important than the results themselves. This especially is true in start-ups. I mean neither sales nor marketing understands how the pipeline will develop. As long as both teams are striving for the same goal – more sales, then the middle and top of the funnel will come into focus. Here is a link to a great article that discusses a framework for startup marketing effectiveness.

3. Close The Loop

Email Communication is a simple yet effective method to communicate with the sales team about pipeline development. HubSpot has a great feature for this. Marketing can trigger an email to sales once a prospect reaches a certain stage in the email nurture sequence. Regardless of the action sales takes next, email will keep the sales team in the loop about what marketing is doing to generate a pipeline.

Closed loop reporting is such an important step in defining marketing effectiveness that if a marketer is not closing the loop in today’s marketing automation world he is walking himself out of a job.

If you work in sales or marketing and your teams are not aligned, step up and take action!

Smashdeck is looking for sales and marketers who would like to be interviewed for its SmashUp Marketing Podcast. If you have a marketing campaign that you are dying to tell the world about we want to know. Learn more here.

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Are You Guilty of This #1 Lead Killer?

6 February 2017 Theresa Mills Leave a comment Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Sales Growth

Qualified leads are the heart and soul of your business, your bread and butter, the center of your universe.  Yet for some reason, despite all of your hard work, none of your leads seem to be converting.

You tried inbound marketing because you heard you should, but that didn’t work. And so, after two months, you gave up.

Secretly, you know your database is out-of-date, inaccurate and completely unqualified, but you don’t have the time or money to scrub the list. In the end, you ignore the problem and try the “bombard your contacts with broadcast emails” approach instead. You hope you’ll get a nibble or two for your efforts – but that isn’t working either. Even a badly-trained hamster knows that you can’t run a business this way.

I once worked for a company that gave their sales team a giant list to cold call. The list was SO bad that the team didn’t make any sales and eventually they were blamed and fired. The problem? The owner didn’t understand the target audience or how to reach them. He thought that as long as the sales team kept making phone calls, they’d eventually get a hit. Not surprisingly, this approach was a disaster.

If you don’t understand your ideal customer, you’ll spend months of effort trying to sell umbrellas to a camel. In other words, you won’t sell anything and your inbound marketing efforts will lead you on a road to nowhere. Even if you DO capture a qualified lead here and there, your lack of understanding will likely result in their demise and they’ll be gone forever.

In order to give marketing teams and salespeople a fighting chance, companies need to clearly define their target market. They need to understand what prospects need at different stages of their buying journey and help drive them towards a decision.

Inbound marketing is a highly-strategic process, based on clearly defined buyer personas. It’s not about sending out random emails to prospects hoping to get a bite. And it’s not about promoting your blogs on Facebook when none of your leads actually use Facebook.

For inbound marketing to work, everything from email campaigns to social media need to be focused on your personas: who they are, how they live, what their budget looks like and what kind of media they consume. Otherwise, you’re just wasting a lot of effort without seeing any results.

In her blog, What Do You Mean Your Marketing Isn’t Working: Sales Edition, author Kristen Patel explains that, even if your leads seem to be going down the sales funnel, they might just be doing research. She says you need to understand their behavior, such as how many times they’ve converted, whether they’re a first-time visitor and whether or not they fit with your persona. If they don’t, chances are they’re just a “lookie-loo” and are stopping by for a visit but not really interested in your product or service.

Buyer personas are key to getting into the heart and mind of the buyer so you can answer all of their questions, solve their problems and become a resource for them through your inbound marketing. Equipped with a genuine understanding of their target market, sales and marketing teams can provide the right information for qualified prospects, initiate the right conversations at exactly the right time and nurture qualified leads so they become customers.

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What you can do to make sure hospital buyers find you 

27 April 2015 Christina Hall Leave a comment Healthcare, Sales Growth

A company that sells into hospitals and healthcare systems understand complex sales transactions. Hospital buyers and supply chain executives are always looking for cost saving opportunities. However, new product initiatives are time consuming to implement because of multiple decision makers and committee approvals.

Consider the perspective of the modern healthcare supply chain executive who is tasked with sourcing innovative products while also finding cost saving solutions. If he or she is looking for a new vendor, a capital asset, or a multi-department purchase, then research is inevitable. One role of marketing is to help these decision makers find you.

So what can you do?

Make sure your testimonials and case studies stand out

Testimonials and case studies are one of the more important marketing assets a company can have. Prospects love to see prior success because it means you understand their problem and can provide a solution.

Create helpful blog content

A blog article can be no different than a salesperson talking to a prospect or sending a prospect an email. The difference is that content lives on the web, and can be searched. Can you afford not to be found online?

Arm the sales team with content that supports the unique selling points of the product or the brand proposition of the company

I am not just talking about a product brochure that lists features and benefits but advanced content, such as white papers or guides that speak to multiple buyer personas and can actually influence a purchase.

Clinicians need different information than a purchasing manager does to make a buying decision.

Sometimes the sales conversation stalls if there is no additional information a sales representative can provide to help the prospect move forward. I wrote about this recently in another post.

Content can be used to help a company get found in search and it can also be used to facilitate a sales transaction.

We all make decisions based on the information we read, hear and see. Hospital and health system executives are no different.

Free-Inbound-Marketing-Assessment

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The “Hey just checking in” Sales Call

9 April 2015 smashdeck Leave a comment Sales Growth

You know the story. Jake is a sales rep looking to sell his medical disposable product to Jan, the Purchasing Manager for a local hospital. Jake calls Jan every other week to say, “Hey just checking in.” What he’s really saying is “I know you haven’t made a decision yet on whether to purchase our product but I thought I’d call anyways at the off chance you have.” Not the best use of time for either party.

However, this sort of thing happens all day long. Why not provide Jan more information that will help her and her team through the sales process? This is when educational content that drives prospects into the consideration stage really helps. A case study, for example, can help Jan to conceptually understand what Jake’s product can really do for her and the company. The way to avoid the just ‘checking in call’ is to nurture Jan with valuable content that will earn her trust and value Jake’s company as a solution provider rather than a product pusher.

To properly assess what stage a prospect is in the sales funnel, take a look at these three criteria:

Develop a lead scoring system:

A lead scoring system scores your leads based on their actions. For example: when a prospect downloads a white paper, they receive a different score than if they attended a webinar.

Leads will make their way through your sales process by educating themselves with your material. At a certain point you will want to “trigger” a direct action, a personal email or a phone call. A lead scoring system can help you determine when this ‘right time’ is.

Develop a content strategy:

There is no doubt about the power of content. Without a content strategy you won’t understand your audience, which makes it hard to communicate.

A content strategy accomplishes the following:

  • Identifies your target audience or multiple personas
  • Gives you a genuine understanding of your customers including their behaviors, their needs and the best way to reach them
  • Helps you develop a competitive analysis so you can identify your competition and differentiate your brand

Set up email nurturing sequences:

Lead nurturing is as, if not more important than getting the lead in the first place. Most sales, for B2B companies especially, aren’t transactional. The first time a user learns about your brand, is most likely not the same time they’re ready to make a purchase. Lead nurturing helps to fill in the gap. The “just checking in” sales call should be replaced with a lead-nurture sequence that provides relevant and timely information that nurtures the user to that specific buying stage.

Just look at these stats:

  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads (The Annuitas Group)
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost (Forrester Research)
  • Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails (Jupiter Research)

Jake is a happy camper if inbound marketing can help him avoid the ‘just checking in’ sales call. He can then focus his time on closing the prospects who are actually ready to buy.

Inbound Marketing Kick-Start

 

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