Have you ever been in a situation where you thought you asked for one thing, but you got something completely different? These “lost in translation” moments occur frequently when you are traveling in different countries. But they also occur in the workplace. I’m thinking specifically of the disconnect between sales and marketing.
How many times has your marketing team been overjoyed to deliver a payload of new leads, only to get pushback from sales? “These aren’t leads,” they say. “They aren’t in our target accounts.” When this happens in a B2B company, it usually means the sales and marketing departments aren’t aligned.
Think about it. The sales team is focused on a set of specific accounts, and they really want leads at those companies. Why? Because B2B purchasing decisions require involvement from many people. The more people a sales rep can engage with at an account, the more likely they are to close the deal. Research by CEB Global has found that the average B2B purchase decision involves 5.4 stakeholders (click to tweet).
On the other hand, the marketing team’s performance is defined by activities that usually have no link to specific accounts — website visits, online forms completed, or social media engagement. It’s not surprising that sales and marketing often seem to be speaking different languages. The solution is to build closer sales and marketing alignment.
To successfully align the sales and marketing teams, companies should follow a three stage process:
Stage 1: Planning
During the planning stage, sales and marketing teams agree on definitions of terms that are central to their work, such as leads, contacts, opportunities, and qualified leads. Once everyone is working from the same lexicon, organizations will experience fewer of those lost in translation moments.
Once the definitions are decided, teams must develop metrics that drive alignment, quantify productivity, and promote accountability. For example, the marketing team may now be evaluated based on the number of leads they deliver within target accounts, rather than on how many online forms were completed after an email campaign.
It’s also helpful for the marketing team to create a service level agreement (SLA) with sales. This document should articulate what is considered to be a lead and KPIs for the sales cycle.
Stage 2: Execute and Evaluate
Once the sales and marketing teams have determined what it means to be aligned, it’s time for the work to begin. The teams should incorporate the new metrics into an analytics dashboard and monitor them over time.
It’s also important to meet on a regular basis to review the dashboard and identify issues that may inhibit alignment. Every organization is different, but holding weekly meetings is a best practice. These are an ideal forum for celebrating what’s working and addressing problem areas.
Stage 3: Make Modifications
The objective of this stage is to analyze metrics and results and identify what has worked and what hasn’t. If certain approaches to alignment haven’t been effective, the teams should take a closer look. Modifying processes and measuring results are good responses.
Stages 2 and 3 are iterative. Organizations should plan on continually evaluating, making modifications, and repeating the cycle again.
Gathering Account-Based Intelligence
Let’s say you’ve done the work and your sales and marketing teams are now aligned. Now what?
Marketing and sales alignment sets the stage for something very powerful: account-based intelligence. Account-based intelligence is the body of data that helps sales reps identify the best contacts at target accounts, determine when they’re ready to make a purchase, and create high-impact messages to engage each prospect.
Using an account-based intelligence web service can help companies mine account and lead information from email campaign auto responses. Those responses contain incredibly valuable information, but very few companies bother mine and store the data, because the work is so tedious.
Automated email mining supports account-based Intelligence by:
- Enhancing and maintaining existing leads in target accounts: Automated email mining transforms email addresses into comprehensive contact profiles. It also derives missing lead data that’s crucial for identifying and targeting key influencers.
- Matching leads to accounts: Account intelligence increases when the sales and marketing team understand who the top influencers and decision-makers are at target accounts. Jon Miller, CEO of Engagio, considers lead-to-account matching a foundational aspect of all account-based marketing strategies.
- Minimizing data entry: Automating the mining of sales intelligence from campaign reply emails eliminates hours of tedious, error-prone work. Sales teams can boost connect rates through access to meaningful, actionable data (such as when leads will return to the office). Freed from the burden of manual data mining, team members can focus on more valuable tasks, such as creating collateral, webinars, and sales enablement assets tailored to the needs of target accounts. They can also make more calls, nurture more opportunities, and close more business.
The path to sales growth begins with marketing and sales alignment. Research by SiriusDecisions found that well-aligned sales and marketing teams achieved 24 percent faster revenue growth and 27 percent faster profit growth than poorly aligned teams.
Once your marketing and sales teams are aligned, it’s easy to gather valuable account information and put it to work quickly and effectively. Look to account based intelligence and account-based marketing solutions to support your sales and marketing efforts.
Matt Benati is the CEO and co-founder of LeadGnome, an innovative account-based Intelligence web service that mines email responses to deliver account-specific contacts, enhance existing leads, and provide actionable sales intelligence. Matt is a vocal advocate for the FlipMyFunnel movement, ABM, and account-based sales development.