The relationship between sales and marketing is often marked by friction and misalignment. It’s something you see across companies and industries time and time again: the sales team is constantly asking for more inbound leads, while marketing wants to see more of its influenced deals getting closed.
Achieving perfect harmony between two separate teams might not be realistic; however, when both sales and marketing are working together, the result is a well-oiled revenue engine.
For marketers, it’s important to constantly keep a pulse on the happenings of the sales team. Supporting sales is at the forefront of your responsibilities, and failure to understand how they operate could result in a leaky sales funnel or missed revenue targets.
It’s important to note that every organization is different. The marketing team’s responsibilities at one company might fall under the sales umbrella at a different company. The best way to familiarize yourself with the sales function at your organization is to be present and communicative.
You don’t need to be a sales expert to work well cross-functionally, but you should at least know the basics. Here are the top 5 things every marketer should strive to learn about their company’s sales org:
1. The definition of a sales-qualified lead
Marketing and sales need to be in agreement over what determines the quality of a lead. On the surface, it may look great if the marketing team is generating hundreds of inbound leads per week, but if only a small percentage of those leads are actually converting into potential opportunities for the sales team, that’s a problem. Poor lead management can have a major negative impact on long-term revenue.
If your sales team has a business development division, loop them in to further specify the true definition of a sales-ready lead. Then, tweak your demand generation strategy accordingly.
2. The type of content that prospects find most compelling
When it comes to content strategy, sales reps are one of your best resources. They are in the weeds every day going after leads and talking directly to the audience that you are trying to reach and influence behind-the-scenes. Ask the sales reps at your company which pieces of marketing collateral they find most useful to use during their sales pitch, or which blog posts they use in their outreach. Take their feedback and use it to guide your content strategy.
3. The metrics used to track sales performance
The sales and marketing teams are directly tied to the same goal: generating revenue. You should be familiar with how the sales team is being measured throughout every stage of the sales cycle, from the time a BDR picks up the phone to make a cold call to the moment the deal is finally closed. Most companies rely on CRM software to keep these metrics updated in real-time - use this as a resource.
Being hyper-focused on your own goals and KPIs can keep you from seeing the bigger picture. Stay aware of how sales performance is measured to understand which marketing efforts are making an impact and which ones are falling flat.
4. The stages of the sales funnel
Most marketers have a good grasp on the buyer's journey through the sales funnel. However, the way marketing views the funnel doesn’t always align with how the sales team sees it. Misalignment on these specifics could have a big negative impact on the way marketing is distributing content along different touchpoints. The criteria that determine a buyer’s position in the funnel should be locked in and uniform across both teams.
5. The length of a sales cycle
It’s important to stay in tune with the ebbs and flows of the sales process. As your company grows and evolves, so does the product or service that you’re selling. This can have a major impact on the length of the sales cycle, which directly affects marketing efforts.
It’s important to establish an open line of communication between marketing and sales leadership. If there are quarters in the year that are historically slower for sales, marketing should be prepared to ramp up their efforts and push out new campaigns during this time.
If sales and marketing exist in silos, your company can run into some obstacles. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and work cross-functionally. After all, revenue is a shared responsibility.
Part of a marketer’s job is to help the sales team sell. How can you? See how you can “Do More with Sales Enablement.”
Izabelle is a Content Marketing Associate who joined G2 in April 2018. After earning a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Izabelle moved back to her hometown of Chicago to start her career. Outside of work, she is passionate about all things pop culture, food, and travel.