The largest hurdle to improving the quality of the lead-gen process is ensuring marketing and sales are on the same page. Traditionally, these two entities have been wholly separate organizations, seemingly working towards the same goal. However, in reality the metrics detailing each organization’s success can incentivize behaviors counterproductive to the business as a whole. In practicality, marketing and sales have competing interests and understandings. While marketing focuses on brand value, sales is rewarded by the generation of revenue.
This differing focus has all too often led to the lack of a clearly defined and universally accepted target audience and segmentation. The dearth of regular, meaningful communications and feedback between sales and marketing creates a gap between the ideal buyer and the realistic one. Subsequently, how each organization defines and evaluates a “good lead” differs.
Without close alignment and agreement on key principles, objectives, and the metrics which drive behaviors, marketing’s efforts will likely be at odds with those of sales. Yet aligning both organizations under a one-team dynamic, with common and complimentary objectives and metrics, will support improvements on both ends of a combined marketing and sales process – leading to a collectively improved ROI.
The foundation of this joint effort is achieved by reaching agreement on precisely who your target market is and which customer segments are most relevant. Developing detailed buyer personas provides everyone in the organization a deep understanding of your target buyer’s relevant goals, challenges, behaviors, and motivations – information critical to your entire organization, from value creation, to messaging and positioning, to customer acquisition and retention.
The key to developing invaluable personas is to understand what interests and affects your persona, from both a personal/emotional perspective and in terms of the business challenges they face. This depth and breadth of information allows your collective process to address persona challenges in a highly targeted manner by developing the commercial insights necessary to deliver a strong, customized and differentiated value proposition.
One proven way to develop a better understanding of your target segments and to bring sales and marketing together is via account-based surveys. Many sales teams are organized around a set of geographically clustered accounts. Sales reps have great relationships with existing accounts but often find it difficult to penetrate new ones, especially when there’s a need to engage at a senior level.
Account-based surveys help solve the problem by engaging senior-level decision makers through the survey process, eliciting valuable insights into their issues and challenges and getting them to opt-in to receive calls from sales. Marketing can develop insights based on the aggregate survey results and use them in their marketing and sales enablement activities. Sales can use the account-based, customer intelligence to quickly engage with prospects around their key challenges and can offer individual insights based on the aggregate survey results. Together sales and marketing can tune the value proposition so that it better resonates with the targeted accounts.
With these new understandings, marketing and sales can then jointly define qualifiers for target buyers, rendering the lead-gen process far more effective. Quality leads, in turn, create a more efficient sales process, affording sales time to focus on more effective selling. This unified process, creating a one-team dynamic focused on the same ultimate goal – the success of the larger business – works efficiently to both increase the effectiveness of the lead-gen process, while simultaneously lowering customer acquisition costs, giving you significant gains in both lead gen quality and ROI.
Is there more that marketing can be doing to help with sales enablement and to get better aligned? Read, ‘Sales Enablement’s Best of the Web: Resources for Sales Enablement Strategies‘
Five Myths that Divide Marketing and Sales, August 2012