Sales and marketing teams sometimes go head to head. However, sales and marketing alignment helps companies become 67% better at closing sales, generating 209% more revenue in the process, according to a study by App Data Room and Marketo. Even so, only 8% of companies have strong alignment, according to Forrester.
For companies that struggle with sales and marketing alignment, the worry is not only the rewards they’re missing out on but the damage that the fracture between teams can cause.
Research from Aberdeen Group shows that poor alignment results in a 4% revenue decline, while a study from IDC revealed that an inability to align sales and marketing teams around the right processes and technologies costs 10% or more revenue per year.
As you can see from the graphic below, smooth alignment allows for optimal orchestration of sales and marketing hand-over and faster sales cycles.
But there are often physical, functional, and cultural differences at hand with poor alignment. Teams work separately, with differing goals and objectives, and with little regard for how the other goes about their business.
This leads to unqualified leads traveling from marketing to sales and causes sales reps to ignore 50% of marketing leads and waste half of their time on unproductive prospecting.
Fixing the issues, however, isn’t nearly as difficult as it seems. All that’s really required is to bring teams closer together and improve lead qualification. Enter email marketing.
Start with your ideal customer
Defining your ideal customer persona is the start of any communication or sales. It needs to be well defined and agreed upon by your entire organization. If you’re a small team or a startup, it’s also worth sitting together with sales to understand which customer personas they consider “low hanging fruit.”
If you don’t build your email strategy with a clear customer persona in mind, you risk sending out generic messages leads to marketing handing over dead-end leads to sales, rather than focusing on highly targeted messages to a qualified group. It’s essential that marketing sends out the right content, to the right people, at the right time.
Once you’ve all agreed on your customer personas, you can begin to use email automation to create a process that nurtures leads continuously until they are sales-ready, and useful tools such as lead scoring and will allow you to identify when the timing is right for sales to contact them.
6 steps to align marketing and sales
Step 1: Attract new leads
Create helpful content interesting for your target customers such as ‘How to’ articles, infographics, hints and tips, and videos. Include email sign-up forms on any page that features this content with call-to-action offers for exclusive email content (ebooks, white papers, etc.).
Step 2: Generate interest
Build on interest by sending subscribers articles on products or services, ebooks, Webinar invitations, and white papers.
Step 3: Show value
If Step 2 has proven successful, work on convincing prospects with case studies, product demos, and testimonials.
Step 4: Identify hot leads
At this stage, prospects are weighing up their options. Now is the time for comparisons and data sheets—and the sales team to jump in. Consider SalesWings as a lead scoring and website tracking add-on for Campaign Monitor to align your marketing and sales team around top priorities.
Step 5: Sales phase
By now the prospect is a hot lead. Promotional offers, product discounts, and free trials can be promoted to support sales to get them onboard.
Step 6: Post-purchase
Work on customer loyalty drips with after-sales service emails and upsell/cross-sell offers. These six steps take you smoothly from the marketing end to the sales end of the sales funnel.
At every step, people will drop away, leaving only prospects with buying intent. The challenge now is to correctly qualify leads to maximize the chances of making a sale.
Segment your email lists for better lead qualification
Not every lead becomes a customer, so you need to work out who to spend the most time on. Do this by segmenting your email lists so that prospects are sent more relevant information.
There are many different ways to segment email lists, but where qualification within the six-step process is concerned you should focus on:
1. Target customer persona
Finding out which subscribers fit your customer profiles (demographics, location, company size, etc.) will help you speak directly to their pain points.
2. Email activity
How subscribers have interacted with your past emails is a good indicator of interest. Subscribers that haven’t opened or clicked on links within emails should be separated from subscribers that have visited pages that showing buying intent such as pricing and demo pages.
3. Website engagement
What your leads read on your blog, the products and services they look at unveils in a natural way to what target segment they belong. Using a real-time lead segmentation solution you can build smart segments using automation.
Segmenting your email lists to better reach your targeted audience is shown to increase revenues by as much as 760%, which is proof, if ever you needed it, that segmentation helps to qualify leads.
The next, and final step, to stronger alignment, is to use the results of your segmented email campaigns to give sales reps the hottest leads.
Using website tracking and lead scoring to hand-over leads to the sales team
Segmentation puts your email campaigns directly in touch with your target audience: those most likely to buy based on their interest and actions.
Open rates and click-throughs are then an interesting metric to understand who’s engaging with your campaigns and showing you campaign success. What is essential at this stage of the process, is to be able to filter out the right leads for sales—and these metrics may just not be enough.
For a full lead qualification, you will need information about broader activity, timing, lead and company insights. If not, your sales team will complain about poor lead quality, even if they are good!
Website tracking provides the sales team with real-time insights into the buyers’ true intent. What are their concerns? Which products or services on your website do they consider viable solutions? For instance:
- Are they reading a blog post about a specific expertise you have?
- Are they revisiting a specific product or service?
- Have they downloaded a form or guide?
- Have they had a look at your pricing page?
If you combine lead engagement tracking (website, forms, email and more) with a lead scoring mechanism or integration, your team will be able to quantify that interest and provide your sales team with a reliable metric on the urgency a lead should be engaged.
If you can provide your sales team with information on what’s behind the score (what exactly are leads doing), you help them save time on lead qualification. And that’s when you start to use reporting and analytics to enhance your sales and marketing alignment concretely.
Aligned sales and marketing teams are better for business, and email marketing is key to making it work. Use website tracking alongside email automation to involve sales reps in the marketing process, allow marketing leads to transition seamlessly into sales leads, and gather the data needed to improve email content for better long-term lead qualification.