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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistFri, Jun 3, 2016 8 min read

How Inbound Marketing Helps Bring Rivals Sales And Marketing Together

Finally, Two Teams Working Together To Generate Revenue With Inbound

Sales And Marketing Hate Each OtherHistorically, sales and marketing teams have been at odds. The sales group hates the marketing group because the leads generated by the marketing group are “bad leads.” The marketing group hates the sales group because the sales group never follows up on the leads the marketing group generates. The result is a dysfunctional revenue-generation system, and this can kill a business.

If this sounds like your company, there’s hope. Today, prospects are pulling these two organizations together because the new buyer behavior demands an entirely new approach to sales and marketing. Inbound marketing and inbound sales are teaming up to create a click-to-close experience that requires sales and marketing to work together if revenue is the goal.

Here’s how progressive sales and marketing teams work together to become a single Revenue Team.

The Buyer Journey Is Supported Seamlessly By Sales And Marketing

The new approach to sales and marketing is all about creating an experience for the potential customer. "Click to close" is the mantra for progressive sales and marketing teams today. Your prospect visits your site and has a great experience. Then they download a piece of educational content, and that experience continues. They get invited to a webinar and attend it. The experience goes on ...

Eventually, they’ll be ready to speak with a sales rep, so the inbound sales organization must be designed to continue providing a remarkable educational experience. The sales rep handles the distribution of education, advice, guidance and assessments. The prospect gets to know, like and trust the sales rep and the company through this process. Once the prospect’s pain becomes acute, the company that provided the best experience typically gets the sale.

Corporate Visions recently published that 74% of B2B buyers said they went with the rep who was the first one to add value and insight during the sales process. Prospects want to be helped, not sold to. They want to be helped during their interactions with the marketing assets, like websites and emails, AND when they finally speak with a salesperson. Marketing and sales need to work together to deliver a much more educational experience.

Both Teams Use Data To Make Decisions

The days of opinion are over. Instead of following the opinion of a specific leader, sales and marketing teams are using data to make decisions.

For the marketing team, this means data that helps them generate more leads, data that helps them generate higher-quality leads and data that helps them direct the sales team to work on the best-opportunity leads first.

Sales is using data to close more new customers in a shorter amount of time. The team knows that when they share more educational content, prospects close more quickly – and for a higher average revenue. This is because the prospects have become more comfortable with the sales rep and the company. We also see that prospects are more likely to refer your company before, during and after the sales process if you’ve delivered a highly educational and advisory experience.

Revenue Generation Is A Shared Accountability

Perhaps the most important aspect of an inbound approach is revenue generated from marketing. This is no longer the sole responsibility of sales, but rather a joint responsibility across both teams. Better yet, it's a shared accountability for the new Revenue Team.

Some more progressive marketing teams are working closely with their sales partners through service-level agreements (SLAs). These operating agreements require marketing to deliver a certain number of leads across the funnel each month. They can go so far as to include value calculations and require a certain level of monetary value.

For example: The value of a lead who comes in via a whitepaper download might be $5 because they’re still not sales qualified, just marketing qualified. (Not sure what that means? Click here to read an article we wrote about the differences between types of inbound leads.) The value of a lead who comes in via a webinar might be $10 because webinar attendees are usually a little more serious than leads who simply download a whitepaper. Finally, a true bottom-of-the-funnel lead, or someone who requests a conversation with a sales rep, might be worth $50 in value.

When you add up all the leads and their value, marketing is required to deliver $10,000 worth of value to sales each month. That’s a sample SLA between marketing and sales. In exchange for this SLA, sales is providing similar commitments. They agree to follow up on all leads within two hours. They agree to document all lead activity in the CRM system. They might agree to provide feedback on all the leads so marketing can use it to improve the quality of leads. Sales also agrees to follow the sales process religiously, including using the email templates and content offerings in the exact way marketing designed them to be used.

Today’s buyers are in control of the entire process. Buyer behavior has changed so dramatically that both sales and marketing need to be redesigned to take this new behavior into consideration. Teams that have acted on this data are seeing improved close rates, shorter sales cycles, higher average revenue per new customer and dramatically improved lead-generation numbers.

Taking advantage of these changes requires you to blow up your current sales and marketing process, teams and strategies and rethink everything to match today’s prospects wants and needs. Inbound marketing and inbound sales give you the tools and methodologies you need to rework both efforts.

Start Today Tip – Are you seeing conflict between your sales and marketing teams? Are there issues with performance? If so, it’s time rethink the entire effort. As buyers gain all the control, getting your marketing and sales experiences aligned with the new buyer behavior, as well as mapping revenue-generation initiatives to the new buyer journey, is going to provide a dramatic payoff in a relatively short amount of time. If this is uncomfortable for you, you’re probably on the right track. It’s going to feel weird at first, but once prospects start responding, sales and marketing will be fast friends and great partners.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.