here, here and here about bridging the gap between sales and marketing. I believe the most important thing marketing can do is to tie its goals to the sales goals.I’ve written
This shows the sales team that marketing is part of the same team. It shows that marketing is serious about its own accountability. And, it improves the sales team’s chances of success. If you are a salesperson, what’s not to like about marketing assuming this goal oriented approach?
However, don’t be surprised if you get resistance from sales as you first work with them to define “qualified opportunity” and to set your goals for the number of opportunities that marketing needs to produce. I think there are two main reasons for resistance from the sales team.
The first is marketing’s history. If your marketing team has a long history of less-than-meaningful goals such as “creating X number of press releases” the resistance from sales is natural. They’ve heard it all before.
Marketing gets excited about their latest project. They do what marketing does best – tell everyone about it in glowing terms. They make the initiative sound like it will save the company, but sales doesn’t see any difference in the number of opportunities they have to work on. Worse, if the latest project takes marketing’s eye off the ball, opportunities may go down.
I don’t blame them for being skeptical. The only thing you can do is to make sure you do what you say you are going to do. If, at the end of the quarter, you didn’t reach the opportunity goals, don’t spin it. Take accountability and figure out how you are going to reach the goals next quarter. Then do it.
The second reason is less legitimate. If marketing takes ownership of the opportunity generation goals, and then meets its goals, sales becomes solely accountable for the sales goal. At the end of the quarter they can no longer say, “I didn’t get enough leads,” and point to marketing as a way of taking pressure off themselves.
They may still try to say this, but that’s where a good lead management process comes in. You need to have documentation showing the details of the agreement between marketing and sales about the number of opportunities that needed to be produced. You need to be able to show that you produced these leads and that they were qualified. You need to show that they reached the hands of your sales team through whatever means you agreed was mutually acceptable.
They may come back with, “Well, they weren’t as well qualified as you initially said they were.” You just need to work through this, by asking questions.
Go through the leads that “weren’t as qualified.” What were they missing? Is telesales asking the wrong qualification questions? Does the criteria for qualification need to be changed?
This is the most painful part of the process. Sales would rather be selling than working through these details. Sometimes, the only conclusion you will come to is that they didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. In other cases, you will agree that changes need to be made to the goals, the qualification criteria, or the process.
If you find that marketing padded the numbers to make the team (or the individual) look good, you need to call them on that. If these individuals cannot change, weed them out as quickly as possible. There is no place in a professional marketing organization for this game playing.
As for the rest of this painful process, you need to be strong. Sales may push back, but the organization can’t fix what’s wrong if the sales and marketing teams don’t take the time to work through it.
Try not to sound as if you are laying blame. You are simply trying to diagnose what part of the process needs to be changed.
Most importantly, never lose your cool. As one of my friends and former colleagues once said, “Someone has to be the adult.”