What do you think of your company's marketing department? If you're like most salespeople, says popular sales and marketing blogger Craig Rosenberg, you probably view marketing with a great deal of suspicion.
"In sales, the attitude is, 'You're either helping me or you're in the way.' And a majority of the time, marketing has been in the way," says Rosenberg.
One key source of this tension: the lack of any filter to evaluate the quality of leads passing from marketing into the sales team's hands. Salespeople have often been left to run their own lead-nurturing campaigns and wound up spending far too much time cold calling, chasing down unqualified leads, and hearing a steady stream of "Not today; maybe later," from prospects.
The solution, and the best way to bridge this divide, says Rosenberg, is through marketing automation, which takes many of the more mundane prospect-management tasks out of the salespeople's hands, then uses established benchmarks to qualify prospects so that only hot leads are sent to sales for follow-up.
"For example, say you go to the Sales 2.0 Conference
as a vendor, and you get leads," Rosenberg explains. "Marketing then inputs all the names and scores them on a set of demographic parameters, such as type of company, job title, geographic location, and what action has been taken. Then, based on those scores, the decision is made about when to pass those leads on to sales."
Noteworthy action taken by the prospect might include downloading a white paper from your Website, inquiring about more information, viewing a Webinar, or looking at a pricing table, all of which would increase the prospect's score, says Rosenberg.
"Compare that to the past, when marketing would go to a trade show or run a campaign and then say to sales, 'Here are the leads – go call them,'" Rosenberg says. "Now marketing automation gives us the power to say, 'Those aren't ready to be called yet. We'll run a series of marketing campaigns against these guys, and based on how they react, we'll determine whether they are ready to get past now.'"
At Focus.com, Rosenberg says, a popular expression is, "You never want to separate a gorilla from his 'nanners [bananas]," meaning that the best salespeople will break down or push aside any barriers to get a deal done. "Your best reps are examples of what you need to be able to work with," he says. "If you pass them qualified leads, they will eat them up. But if you don't and you waste their time, they'll express that tenacity elsewhere. Our best rep gets a lot of calls that we have set up for him, and he takes them all. If they were bad, he would turn them all away. The marketing team loves to pass the leads to him, because they know he will give every effort to convert them. That's how you bridge the gap between sales and marketing."