If You’re Tasked With Shortening The Sales Cycle And Increasing Close Rates, This Is A Must-Read
Artificial intelligence! Did I get your attention? It seems like all it takes these days is to use AI in a sentence and, bang, instant results.
But before you start thinking about HAL (2001: A Space Odyssey), Sonny (I, Robot) or BB-8 (you know this one), you might want to consider some basic blocking and tackling inside your sales and marketing departments that can have immediate results — big, revenue-generating results.
Today’s prospects are not interested in the internal disagreements between your sales and marketing teams. The documented rivalries here are older than dirt. Today, they’re making their purchasing and hiring decisions based primarily on the experiences you provide while they’re getting to know your company as a prospect. That means your sales and marketing teams must be tightly integrated.
But if you’re looking for even more business reasons for sales and marketing alignment, consider the biggest reasons. You can shorten the sales cycle, increase close rates, drive a big bump in sales opportunities, run some highly effective plays like account-based marketing and use social media to increase awareness in your business. However, if sales and marketing are not functioning as a single, well-oiled machine, you’re probably flushing a good part of your marketing budget right down the toilet.
Here’s how gaining alignment impacts those big numbers.
Shortening The Sales Cycle
The sales cycle does not start when sales rep A first contacts prospect B. The sales cycle starts when prospect B first hears about your company and then lands on your website, downloading their first piece of content from your company. Now the clock is running.
Thinking about your sales cycle in a click-to-close manner is going to give you a much better appreciation for how your prospects buy today. They visit your site and engage with your content long before they want to talk to your sales team, and you need to know the data associated with that buyer journey model.
The better you execute your marketing, the faster they’ll be comfortable and ready to talk to your sales team. The better you execute your marketing, the more qualified new leads will be, and that means more of them will turn into sales opportunities. Not only does this shorten your sales cycle, but it also makes your reps highly efficient. They’ll be spending more time talking to highly qualified companies, instead of sifting through leads that will never close, never invest what you want them to invest or never be your best customer.
This is important. It’s not always about more leads. Often, it’s about better, higher-quality leads. When marketing and sales work together, targeting, qualification and timing all get upgrades.
Increasing The Close Rate
Closing more new customers almost always comes down to how your sales teams perform at the back end of the sales process.
You also need to look at the entire buyer journey and make sure you’re delivering an experience that emotionally and rationally connects with your prospects. But closing almost always comes down to that last experience. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward, leveraging your best team, providing the most insight and using your assets in the right way.
Marketing can have a major impact on this part of the process. Marketing provides content in context to the major issues the prospect is facing. Marketing leverages client advocacy at the perfect time in the process. Marketing improves the design of any materials provided to prospects at the end of the experience and keeps tabs on the metrics associated with the conversion data related to the overall performance at this part of the process. Marketing can even work to understand how your competition is selling, allowing you to position the entire experience to ensure your prospects clearly see the difference between your company and your competition.
Driving Better, More Qualified Leads
Ever show up to a demo only to have the prospect wondering why they’re there? Ever show up at a sales meeting and the prospect isn’t interested in what you do? Ever get on a call and have complete misalignment with the objective of the call?
These are symptoms of marketing teams that are driving certain metrics without alignment and feedback from sales. This is why sales and marketing teams are historically so dysfunctional.
To produce better qualified leads, marketing and sales need to be on the same page as to what defines a high-quality lead. It’s not just demographics. It’s intent, it’s pain, it’s psychographics and it’s attitude. You can capture this information. Lead-scoring models can do a wonderful job of helping sales know who needs immediate attention and who can be nurtured via email for a week or two until they’re ready for sales to put energy toward that specific opportunity.
The smarter your qualification models and the smarter your lead-scoring algorithms, the more efficient your sales team is going to be and the happier your salespeople. You want them spending 100% of their time talking to qualified people with intent to buy. You want your lead-nurturing campaigns to handle people who are still in awareness, education, consideration and maybe even evaluation stages.
Again, aligning sales and marketing drives a lot of efficiency in your company. You might be able to handle the same level of activity with fewer less salespeople. I know it would not be hard to find the one or two bottom performers and move them along.
Increasing Sales Opportunities
Want to close more sales opportunities? Aligning marketing with that effort is key. When the quality of your leads increases, so should the close rate. You can double your new customers per week and double your new revenue number not by getting more sales opportunities but by getting better, more qualified opportunities.
Getting better-qualified leads and better sales opportunities requires sales to feed marketing a constant flow of intelligence around data quality. It requires marketing to adjust lead-acquisition, lead-scoring and lead-qualification criteria accordingly. This isn’t something that happens once or twice a year. It has to happen once or twice a week. Sales must provide the insights, and marketing has to adjust programs and tactics accordingly.
Driving Down The Cost Of Acquiring New Customers
The cost of acquisition is not just marketing and it’s not just sales; it’s both. Add up all of the costs associated with both teams and divide it by the number of new customers you signed up, and you have the cost to acquire a new customer.
Make sure you include the sports tickets, golf and other stuff you do to get new customers. Those expenses might not look like sales and marketing expenses on the surface, but in reality, they are used for just that.
Now think about a more efficient process, one that needed one fewer leader and two fewer sales reps. Your total cost of acquisition would drop dramatically, and while those savings would be nice, that’s not the end game. You want to take some of that money and reinvest it back into ramping up the sales and marketing — the revenue generation machine.
Consider building a lead-scoring model to generate more qualified leads and better sales opportunities. Invest in some software to track conversion rates across the buyer journey. Put some time on the calendar to have sales and marketing meet regularly to open a dialogue and create a closed loop for feedback. Define a single revenue goal for both teams to aim for and to be compensated around. Invest in new and upgraded content offers for marketing to attract more leads and for sales to leverage in the sales process. Make sure your website (the start of the process and where every single prospect will land before ever asking to talk to you) is industry leading and delivers a remarkable experience.
This is how you drive revenue in 2018. But you might not need all of this. I guess it’s possible that you think your two teams are aligned while in reality they’re not. In case you’re in denial, here’s a quick test to see if alignment exists in your company, or if you need to act (and act quickly). If you answer yes to any of the following questions, your teams are not aligned:
- You have a sales leader and a marketing leader
- Marketing is not measured on the attainment of company revenue goals
- Marketing does not have specific performance measurements that feed sales activity
- Sales does not provide weekly feedback to marketing on the specific details around lead quality
- Sales and marketing do not have a contractual agreement as to the definition of a high-quality sales lead
- Sales and marketing people do not meet weekly as a team
More could be added, but at a high level if any of these sound like your company, you’re not aligned. Here’s what should get you excited: Getting these two teams aligned is not hard. It just takes a plan, leadership, commitment and the right playbook to set up the alignment, monitor it over time and reinforce it when people try to revert to what’s more comfortable.
You should see from above that the advantages of getting sales and marketing aligned far outweigh any of the challenges, investment or time required to deliver the alignment. More importantly, you should be thinking about this the same way you make sure your company has high speed internet, a CRM system and video conferencing technology. These tools are not optional today; they’re a requirement for doing business. Aligning your sales and marketing teams is a requirement for doing business — your prospects are demanding it.
Square 2 Marketing – Revenue Is Earned Through Experience, Methodology And Insights!
Posted By Author 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.