B2B marketing and sales don’t always play nice.
After all, each team often grew up separately, with its own set of goals and initiatives.
Take your average B2B marketing unit.
It’s responsible for the five Ps: Product, price, place, promotion, and packaging.
Each may tie back to revenue growth, but marketing’s main focus will always be cost per lead and return on ad spend.
With sales, the goal is—wait for it—sales.
Its focus is on generating revenue through maintaining and acquiring customers.
In other words, sales is your front line for making it rain.
But because revenue is a function of lead volume, conversion rates, average order amounts, and customer retention, sales and marketing depend on one another.
Qualifying leads isn’t as effective without B2B marketing, and turning leads into customers can be a drawn-out process without sales.
As a result, marketers want more involvement in the sales process, and sales wants to be included in lead generation and qualification.
When you bring these teams into alignment and get them working together, those silos come tumbling down.
B2B Marketing and Sales: Speak the Same Language
That’s why communication is so important.
Without it, B2B marketing and sales will fail to provide the contextual information necessary to improve conversion.
It’s no wonder that as much as 50 percent of sales time is wasted on pointless prospecting.
The two teams don’t speak—at least not the same language.
Our company worked with a B2B logistics provider.
Its marketing department provided a list of more than two million customers, a kind of call-them-all strategy that lacked prioritization.
The entire list contained high-potential opportunities based on spend levels, but sales conversion rates never exceeded 15 percent.
By applying analytics modeling focused on sales successes, we identified the best customers to engage based on business type, seasonality, and recent interactions.
By focusing on the highest propensity-to-purchase customers, the conversion rate doubled.
Shifting the focus for qualifying leads aligned B2B marketing and sales.
In fact, more than 89 percent of companies that align these two departments report increases in lead conversion.
What’s more, 57 percent of the decision-making process is completed before salespeople even enter the scene.
Both teams must continually exchange information to improve conversion rates.
Leave No Room for Interpretation
What information should marketers share with sales to generate more qualified leads?
Start with the following variables: Customer status, customer interaction history, customer intent, and lead quality.
Your interactions with a customer are much different than your communications with a prospect.
Sales must understand a person’s position in the buying process to address that person’s needs.
We worked with a communications company that converted less than five percent of its leads.
After a little digging, we found 40 percent of prospects were customers.
Simply defining customer status freed up sales to focus on leads.
Customer Interaction History
Knowing the number of times marketing has interacted with any given customer helps sales understand where that person is on his decision-making journey.
Is he just browsing, or is he gearing up for a purchase?
Besides quantity, sales needs to know what type of interaction it’s observing.
Clue salespeople in on whether someone watched a webinar, opened an email, visited your website repeatedly, or had a billing issue.
All of this information is valuable for subsequent interactions.
Reason provides context for salespeople, and some would argue it provides a clearer picture of the customer than even demographics.
It allows sales to meet the consumer in the moment that matters most.
Gather as much information as possible.
Capture campaign responses, keyword searches, browsing habits, registrations, and content shares.
A firm grasp on these brings your target audience’s motivation and patterns into focus, which sales can use to prioritize and route the customer.
In the B2B world, we talk about lead criteria.
Is the potential buyer ready to engage with sales?
Her readiness often depends on budget, authority, and timing.
The lead must have all three to be qualified.
By requiring prospects to meet certain criteria, marketing knows whether to continue messaging or move them to sales.
B2B marketing automation tools can smooth the process, but you’ll still need to establish the criteria.
Marketing and sales have an uneasy alliance, but one can’t survive without the other.
In fact, they must work in tandem.
Establishing different goals, initiatives, and languages will keep them in their separate silos, which is no way to improve conversion rates.