As marketers we know exactly how important it is to collaborate with our sales team. After all, you can’t have a successful business with only one hand working on it. So while marketers do their job in generating quality leads, the sales team must give their best shot at converting them into profit.
But the job is not always easy.
A common problem with many companies I’ve worked with is having sales and marketing teams that do not communicate with each other. When these two departments work in silos with no strategy, the chance of generating sales is small.
Getting your sales team to cooperate with inbound methodology is a vital step in having a consistent pipeline of inbound leads. As you see, communication is the key. To have a successful business you need to have a consistent pattern of communication between these two departments. This means that your sales team must be able to report back about the quality of leads so marketers can filter the strong leads from the weak ones.
So in this post, I will address some ways on how to get your sales and marketing teams aligned for a successful inbound strategy.
Engage your sales team in important conversations
Sales people may become very sensitive to new strategies and tend to stick to their old school tactics. Sometimes, they mistake change as a ploy to replace them so they resist through subtle motions such as lack of cooperation, absences, or through objections.
But convincing your sales team to come around doesn’t have to be this hard.
By engaging your sales team in important conversations as early as possible, you can stop their negativity before it even begins. Using a two-way communication, you can effectively persuade your sales team to include an inbound marketing strategy in their sales tool box.
Engaging your sales team takes more than just a simple chit-chat. The following are two effective ways to engage your sales team.
Conducting trainings – Set aside time to train your sales team about your inbound marketing strategy. Use it to share what past strategies have been working and what’s not. Open the floor for questions, offer examples, and allow your sales team to contribute ideas.
Your training can last half-day or throughout the day, depending on your availability. In fact, you can host a lunch to have a one-hour prep talk about your inbound marketing strategy.
Appoint a sales liaison – Choose someone from the sales department who you trust will channel your inbound efforts to the whole team. Sometimes, it is easier to talk to one person than force a group of people to listen to your plan. Invite this person to your weekly or monthly meeting so he can see for himself what you’re up to. When your plan is good, there’s no reason why this person will not convince his teammates to align with your strategy.
Enter into a service-level agreement (SLA)
When you talk about inbound marketing with your sales team, it is important to disclose your goal for that month. Don’t just pitch your inbound marketing strategy like a salesperson. Instead, focus on teaming up for success. Sit with your sales manager and enter into a service-level agreement.
A service level agreement (SLA) is a document where marketers and sales persons define their individual role and how they would go about their inbound marketing tactics.
The following are the most important sections that your SLA must contain.
- Sales and marketing goals
- A full list of your marketing qualified lead (MQL) based on your ideal customer profile (ICP). These are the people who are most likely to convert into real-time customers after seeing your promotions.
- Lead scoring criteria
- Ideal conversion rate for the every quarter
- Metrics to be utilized in measuring results
- A well-defined methodology on how to handle leads and convert them to sales
- Call for a meeting and establish your marketing and sales goals together
It may take weeks or month to create an SLA. But you can always call for a meeting and plan about your monthly objectives. You can have it before or after an SLA or host a weekly or monthly meeting to engage with each other.
An important talking point, for example, would be lead generation. Here you can discuss what kind of lead volume and quality to expect. Say you’re planning to increase the number of quality leads generated in the previous month by 25 percent, your sales team will be more selective about the leads and focus only on the best.
There are many other things that you can talk about like what content you should be using to generate leads. Or you can ask your sales team how they nurture leads. While you may not understand completely how it’s done on the other side, and vice versa, a general grasp of what you’re doing will give both of you a clearer understanding on how your leads have been taken care of.
Keep your sales team up-to-date with your inbound marketing efforts
Keep the ball rolling and let your sales team know how successful your inbound strategy is. Don’t just talk. Show to them a measurable result. Inbound marketing, nowadays, is so sophisticated that a marketer can track results and show it to any sales person.
The following are some questions that you need to focus when communicating success to your sales team.
- How many customers, fans, and prospects are engaged with your brand?
- Is your organic traffic improving?
- How many authority sites have link to your site or talked about your brand?
- Did you achieve your desired result out of your inbound marketing efforts?
An important tool that will help you track metrics and demonstrate results to your sales team is the Google Analytics. When you have a Google Analytics, you can track the behavior of your customers and see your overall results.
Say you’ve just launched a marketing campaign and you want to show the numbers to your sales team. You can have a summary of your results from the Google Analytics dashboard which will show you the following information.
- Total number of conversions
- The total amount of cash you’ve generated out of the prospects who converted on your website
- Total abandonment rate or the number of people who abandoned your website
By having access to these data, you will know whether your inbound marketing efforts had paid off. After all, sales persons are more interested in numbers than pure talk.
Build trust with your sales team
Sales and marketing teams often have a love-hate relationship. They are both accountable for results but they go about in different ways, and it is very easy for marketers to point fingers at the sales team whenever they are not generating enough conversions.
The easiest way to keep your sales team on board is to build trust. Demonstrate that you have their best interest at heart to keep them driven. Do not try to hide anything. For example, if your inbound marketing strategies have failed disclose the numbers to your sales team and plan together on how to bounce back.
Focus on having a helping mindset rather than point fingers at the sales person. A healthy relationship between marketers and sales team is key to success.
Why your Sales Team is so Important for your Inbound Marketing Strategy
As I said, your marketing and sales team must develop a consistent alignment in order to create a successful inbound marketing strategy.
Since we’ve tackled the role of marketers, let’s talk about what the sales team can do to help the marketers.
Become thought leaders
Though leaders focus on past results and analyze them to create a more effective plan on converting leads to sales. Sales people are in the best position to become the thought leaders of the company because they are the ones on the edge working to qualify leads into sales.
For this reason, it would help if sales person are more leaned on to creating quality content, mapping buyers behavior, and developing buyer personas to determine how exactly leads are converted to sales.
Be more engaged – participate in important conversations
Strip away all your negative notions and listen to the marketing department and to the clients as well. Participate with the marketing team whenever a meeting is called. Ask questions if you need to so you can gather the best data from which to create quality content.
Do not try to hide any grudges when an inbound marketing strategy is in place. If you think that there is a better way to do it, talk to the sales liaison so your concerns will be communicated to the marketing team.
Avoid absences and work stoppage if you do not agree with certain matters. Say a certain strategy is not working and you’re about to execute a new strategy in converting leads to sales that is not in the inbound marketing plan. Rather than placing the rules in your own hands, try to call for a meeting with the marketing team and present a data to back whatever opinions you may have.
This way, you can avoid any issues between your team and the marketing department. When both teams are actively engaged with each other, all works can be smooth going.
Be more social with your prospects and existing clients
One of the important tasks of sales people is to communicate with the leads. Since there is no way to talk to them personally, sales person can become more social by maintaining consistency in the distribution of content.
A common disconnect for sales people happens when there is no work consistency. When sales people fail to deliver work, marketers will have nothing to promote.
Creating an insightful content will help both prospects and existing clients to stick around in your website. So to bridge the gap between sales people and marketers, the former should make an initiative to deliver quality content.
Map out the topics that you would tackle based on consumer behavior. You may also ask from the marketing team about the ideal topics that you can focus. Then create a schedule on when you should publish them – it could either be daily or weekly depending on the demand.
The relationship between sales and marketing will always be complicated. But there are ways on how you can mend both teams and work hand-in-hand for a successful business. I hope this article can help you bring clarity to whatever team you’re handling. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.