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There has been a perceived rift between marketing and sales as long as I’ve been in the workplace and while there are always two sides to every conversation the real question begs… should there be a rift?
In its most basic of responsibility, marketing is tasked with generating leads and demand for sales. Likewise, sales is tasked with closing business and driving revenue. Of course, it’s more complicated than that, but the most often heard argument out there sounds like this:
Marketing: I generated a bunch of leads for sales last month and they haven’t touched them.
Sales: The leads marketing generated stink!
This, of course, gets to the whole marketing qualified lead (MQL) versus sales qualified lead (SQL) and how marketing automation and lead nurture programs are born. But before automation, it was just marketing and sales and while technology handles a lot of the in-between these days it’s still about providing prospects with the information they need to make decisions – whether this comes from marketing, sales, or both!
So where does marketing start?
That’s an interesting question with a very obvious answer – with sales! When I speak with marketing folks about creating content, I often ask them if they have spoken with anyone in sales. More often than not their answer is no. Why? How does marketing know what content is needed? What messages resonate? What underlying pain points the market has? While marketing certainly has some insights to work from, sales is, after all, on the front lines speaking with prospects. The insights they can provide marketing are invaluable.
Here are some thoughts and questions that marketing should be addressing and asking sales that can help them build content and drive better leads.
- What could marketing do better to support you in the sales role? I bet most salespeople have never been asked this question and yet is seems like a pretty good place to start.
- What person in an organization do you start and end the sales process with? While there are most definitely targets that marketing has identified as touch points there are also likely people within an organization that sales find invaluable to their process. Before the final decision makers lie influencers, gatekeepers, and other targets that can help smooth the sales process. Are these folks part of a lead nurture or communication plan?
- What are the three (or more) most common objections you hear from influencers and decision makers along the sales process? I am sure marketing has some insight into common obstacles and likely has created content to address them, but a discussion can often uncover new ones that can provide opportunities for prospect touch points.
- What do you feel are the company’s top three differentiators? You might be surprised to find that these 1) may differ from what your website or marketing materials suggest, and 2) may differ from salesperson to salesperson.
- What was the main reason you feel you lost your last sale? Needless to say, this can uncover some potential collateral or the need for certain documentation that may not currently exist.
- How could our website work better for sales? What do you like and what do you not like about it? A website, more often than not, is an online brochure but it can at times provide thought leadership (a blog) or deeper product/solution insights (ROI calculator) … You get the idea!
- What do your competitors doing better than us? Most always a tough question to ask as it shines a spotlight on deficiencies, but then the whole goal here is to get better. Tough questions often yield insightful information!
There is a wealth of information available to marketing that many have not tapped and accessing it is as simple as setting up a call. Armed with the answers to the questions above, marketing will be better positioned to create content to generate better leads at the top of the funnel, nurture leads through the buyer journey, and deliver sales qualified leads.
BONUS: Yes, better leads, or SQLs, is the benefit of having the conversation and asking the questions, but it is not the only benefit. When marketing reaches out to sales to have a genuine discussion you will find that the synergies between departments grows exponentially. Everyone gets on the same page and your company as a whole will be better because of it. And, it makes work more enjoyable.