As an outsourcing sales company, outsourcing lead generation company, a sales strategy consulting and a digital sales marketing execution company, we have a great deal of conversations with existing and potential clients about what sales and marketing alignment mean. For Gabriel Sales it means that you have a sales machine where your team is focused on closing business. That means:
- Marketing is focused on putting leads in the pipe that will close
- Marketing drives deals forward with the right sales collateral at the right time.
- Sales provides marketing with the insights they need
- Marketing provides “Sales Collateral”, that moves deals through specific stages of the pipe
- Sales will actually use the collateral
- Sales trusts marketing to do its job to nurture deals that are not yet ready to buy
The first step in building Sales and Marketing alignment is to agree on your Ideal Customer Profile.
The second step is to agree on definitions for early stage leads. You need to do this so you can build a lead generation machine that matches the buyers readiness to buy with the expectations of your sales team. This way they will understand how much time, effort and money should be invested. To do this you need to clearly define your lead generations and lead qualification stages.
The following are quick definitions that Gabriel Sales uses:
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) – A lead that has accepted information and is open to understanding what you have to offer. They have registered for an event, or engaged in conversation with a telemarketer and indicated an openness to be contacted again.
MQL Hot – They are actively digesting your content. They have registered for and attended a webcast. They are opening multiple pieces of digital content. They are asking your telemarketer buying questions.
Sales Accepted Leads (SAL) – There is a fit between the customer’s pains or needs and your product or solution. It makes sense to invest sales resource time to do some initial discovery. A telemarketer can identify this fit by asking some pain questions and then setting an appointment. A marketer can do this by noticing a shift in the content they are absorbing. Are they moving from digesting digital sales content that is educational to digesting digital content that is verifying content? Are they moving from opening emails onto white papers, case studies, testimonials or your blog? (This is why an investment in marketing automation software like Marketo or Pardot becomes critical).
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) – Your inside rep has established the decision making process, budget and/or path to budget and confirmed the need, which includes some combination of the following:
- Company Profiled as to:
- Public or Private
- Annual Revenues
- Spend in Solution Area
- Strategic Initiatives
- Contact(s) title and role(s) known
- Basic understanding of need/pain
- Spoken to lead several times
- Potential opportunity identified- product matched to pain
- Timeline identified 3-12 months (depending on sales cycle
- Stakeholders identified)
- Initial compelling event identified that drives the timeline
- Decision makers identified
- Agreed to meeting with “Senior Sales” or “Executives” and a next step beyond that meeting (even if that next step is a yes or no on moving forward)
Nurture – Not yet ready to buy. Have expressed interest, but have not shown an interest in moving beyond Sales Accepted Lead. In some studies and across several of our clients we are seeing as many as 77% of our deals coming from the pipe a year after we have made first contact. This requires we stay in touch with digital content and an occasional voice mail on a sustained and consistent basis.
Once you have agreed on the definitions it is much easier to give your marketing team a sales quota by evaluating their tactics and giving each tactic both a primary and secondary function in building sales momentum.