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5 Sales and Marketing Alignment Ideas to increase conversion rates

Posted by John Aikin
on January 3, 2018

Successfully aligning the sales and marketing teams within a company is a practice as old as the corporate structure itself. For the majority of companies, the marketing department's job is to generate leads, while the sales team's job is to turn the leads into clients.

In theory, it is imperative that sales and marketing teams work in tandem, aligning shared goals and roles to make sure that ROI becomes the responsibility of the entire organization, rather than that of individual teams.

Unfortunately, building a cohesive team around sales and marketing alignment is usually easier said than done. However, with the following ideas, you can implement an effective strategy and ensure everyone keeps common goals in mind as they work toward the same target.

Set Your Sales Team's Quota

The first step in creating your cohesive sales strategy is to set financial targets around what your sales team needs to generate on a monthly basis. This is referred to as "the quota."

A good way to create an accurate quota for your sales team is to take into account past performance, rep performance, account value and foresight that is based on business goals. While this may seem difficult, it doesn't have to be.

Start by exploring what you're hoping to bring in during a given month. To meet your goal, your sales reps can increase or decrease in numbers as needed.

If you fail to do this, you may find that your sales team is trying to work toward unattainable and unreasonable figures, leading to them feeling discouraged and ceasing efforts "above and beyond" to exceed expectations. Sales enablement is not something you can solve overnight. Start by slowly weeding out strategies that don't work for your sales cycle and implement new sales strategies with your team members as much as you can.  

Determine What You Need to Do to Reach Your Target

Once you know what your quota (or target) is, you need to document your existing sales structure to identify the close percentage of the leads that are coming through.

After determining this percentage, you can begin to back out of the sales cycle to identify how many of each stage you need per month to reach your target. For example, let's say you know you want to bring in $150,000 in new business in the month of October.

Well, how many clients does that mean you'll need to close in order to hit that number? From there, you should be able to identify exactly what your sales and marketing funnel needs to look like:

  • How many proposals/negotiations does it take to close that number of clients?
  • How many SQLs (vetted prospects) are needed to reach your monthly proposals?
  • How many MQLs (general interest prospects) are needed to reach the target SQLs?
  • How many leads are needed to reach the target number of MQLs?

What Is Considered an MQL for Your Company?

In order to know if you are reaching the aforementioned lead generation targets, you need to clearly and concisely define what MQLs - marketing qualified leads - mean for your business. Generally speaking, these are the leads that have a higher likelihood of becoming customers than other leads, and should officially mean that marketing has "completed" their job in the sales process.

In many cases, an MQL will be someone who is deemed a "good fit" lead and has shown a higher level of engagement.

This engagement could be something like downloading multiple offers, clicking through several CTAs, revisiting bottom-of-funnel pages (pricing pages, comparison pages, etc.) multiple times, or perhaps filling out a bottom of funnel conversion like an assessment, demo, or consultation request.

The key is to ensure that both your marketing and sales teams agree to a set definition. This is going to serve as the ultimate factor in whether or not a lead is considered "qualified" and sent to the sales team.

As a result, you must make sure that only the best leads meet this definition, which will lead to higher engagement and help you successfully close deals.

Keep in mind, it is also a good idea for your marketing and sales leaders to revisit this definition every quarter to ensure it still meets the requirements of your sales and marketing departments.

As your business changes, so will the definition you use to establish who is an MQL.

Develop a Service Level Agreement (SLA)

The typical SLA - service level agreement - is a contract between service providers and the end user. It is output-based and used to define precise expectations.

You need to also create an SLA for your sales marketers and marketing teams.

It will state what your marketing team is responsible for delivering to the sales team each month, and what your sales team is responsible for delivering in return.

If you can achieve the numbers outlined in the SLA, then you will be on a clear path to success and increased revenue.

An example could be something as simple as this:

"Marketing agrees to send 150 qualified leads to sales each month. In return, sales agrees to review these leads, reach out no later than 2 business hours after receiving them, and continuously reach out until the lead has been contacted at least 8 times over the course of 4 weeks before writing them off as a 'Closed Lost' deal."

Build a Strong Funnel

Your sales funnel is the process you use to turn MQLs into SQLs and then actual customers.

By now, you have a pretty good sales funnel in place, which can include testimonials, free downloads, content marketing efforts, e-books and more.

Now you need to strengthen this funnel to further nurture your leads and turn them into MQLs.

You can do this by assessing your current offerings and figuring out why customers are choosing you over your competition.

Once you know these things, you can apply what you learn to your lead qualification process. If necessary, make adjustments and use your sales metrics.

After determining how to get more people further down your pipeline, take steps to engage marketing automation, which will help streamline the process in the future.

This will save you time and result in larger earnings for you and your team.

By utilizing the information here and understanding demand generation, you can create a cohesive sales and marketing team, rather than simply "a sales team" and "a marketing team."

This cohesion will improve your ability to turn cold leads into customers, from start to finish.

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