How can you make sure that both the marketing and the sales department reach their goals and thus become profitable? The answer is simple: you can’t get a profitable sales department unless the marketing department is also succeeding – and the other way around. Here are 3 ways to make sure that both departments achieve success.
There’s no quick win when it comes to achieving success with your inbound marketing and sales strategy. However, there are things you can do to make sure that the foundation for success is in place, such as making sure that the two departments are aligned and able to collaborate.
Only through collaboration, the two departments can achieve their goals – and thus reach the company’s overall goals. So how do you best enable cooperation between marketing and sales? Through an SLA (Service Level Agreement).
An SLA is simply an agreement between the provider of the service and the customer. In this case, it will be an agreement between the marketing department and the sales department where the two parts have to take responsibility for reaching the goals that have been set.
Typically, an SLA between marketing and sales consist of a goal of how many sales qualified leads marketing will deliver to sales and a time estimate for how quickly sales need to contact these leads. To achieve success, both departments have to achieve their goals.
Here are three ways to enable better collaboration between marketing and sales through an SLA:
3 ways to enable better collaboration and get more profitable departments
Agree on who your ideal customer is
One of the foundations for making an SLA is that the parties agree on who the company’s ideal customer is. A large part of both sales and marketing is about communication, and if you try to attract everyone with your message, you will probably not attract and convert anyone.
It is, therefore, essential that both departments know precisely who you are talking to and who you want as a customer. Only when both marketing and sales are fully aware of which companies they want to work with, and who their buyer personas are, you can move on with the process.
The communication must be unified throughout the lead's buyer’s journey. Therefore, it is vital that you have representatives from both sales and marketing as you develop your personas so that nobody is in doubt who they are communicating with.
If you haven’t identified the company’s buyer personas yet, we recommend that you read our article: What are personas?
Have clear definitions of leads
Once you have control of which personas your company wants to address, the marketing and sales department must agree on which criteria a lead need to meet in order to be considered as sales qualified. Salespeople need to clarify what specifics they need to know about a lead before they make contact.
At this stage, it is important to decide on how to assess how good of a match a lead are based on company profile and persona and how sales ready the lead is. The latter can be determined by looking at the lead’s activity on your company website.
Come to an agreement on how both the marketing department and the sales department should nurture leads that are a good match but who aren’t yet engaged, and what to do with leads that are very engaged but not a good match.
If you use HubSpot, there are three predefined types of leads: a lead, a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and a sales qualified lead (SQL). You must set your own criteria for how to define them and make sure that both marketing and sales agree. To help you get started, take a look at these definitions:
Lead: Has downloaded a piece of content by filling out a form on a landing page with personal information such as name and email.
MQL: A lead that has been active on your website, for example by visiting a lot of sites or downloaded several pieces of content – a behaviour indicating that the lead is engaged and a good match for your services.
The lead can have read some specific blog posts or viewed specific pages on your site. At the same time, he has downloaded another piece of premium content and thus entered additional information about himself – such as job title and company size.
SQL: An MQL that has demonstrated a behaviour indicating that the person is ready to be contacted by a salesperson. It may be that the person has looked at the price page or downloaded content that clearly signals purchase maturity.
Set clear goals and regulate them whenever necessary
When setting goals for your inbound efforts, be sure to be specific: How many leads should marketing deliver and when should it happen? In order to set realistic goals, there are some figures that you must know:
- How long is the buying process for your ideal customer?
- What is the average lifetime value of a customer?
- How much traffic do you have on your website today?
Once you have these numbers, you can calculate your goals based upon how many customers you’ll need to close each month, how many leads the marketing department has to pass over to sales in order to close these customers and how much traffic you’ll need to the website each month.
To make it easier for you to calculate the potential ROI of inbound marketing based on these numbers, we have created an ROI calculator that you can plot these numbers into. Here you get some real numbers based on industry benchmarks.
Remember to regulate your goals on a continuous basis. For most companies, it makes sense to review goals once a quarter. If you grow a lot, it may make sense to do it more often – for example once a month.