One Chance to Make a Great First Impression with Sales

I’ll be traveling to Massachusetts on Monday to meet and spend the week with our new North American inside sales team. The team is completely new as we transitioned from an outsourced inside sales team model to an in-sourced sales team at the end of the year.

The entire team has been hired just within the past two months. This is marketing’s only chance to make a first great impression with the new inside sales team.

sales-teamWe Have Our Stuff Together

I think we (marketing) have our stuff together. We plan to provide an overview of the corporate marketing structure and marketing automation and then dive into the marketing narratives, sales insertion points, value propositions and target market segments.

Furthermore, we will introduce and train the team on market intelligence databases made available by marketing to sales. It’s going to be a lot for one week, but hopefully not overwhelming.

The Game Plan for Making a Great First Impression

This team is the first line responders to Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline (BANT) qualified sales leads generated by marketing. Our successes and potential failures in generating sales will be a shared experience. To make a great first impression we’re:

  • Sharing our 2014 marketing plan
  • Introducing the sales plays that will align with marketing execution
  • Setting expectations on what marketing will and will not be doing for the team

The Importance of Sales and Marketing Alignment

I can’t over emphasize the importance of sales and marketing alignment. This requires a common understanding of objectives, goals and agreements. I’ve seen organizations that have managed this quite well and the success of sales and marketing builds upon itself. And I’ve witnessed firsthand when sales and marketing are horribly miss aligned and the infighting and blame games which are completely destructive to demand generation.

Its vitality important to gain a mutual definition of a marketing qualified lead (MQL), sales accepted lead (SAL) and sales qualified opportunity (SQL). Likewise there should be a shared understanding of response times to newly generated MQLs. When leads do not route correctly, there must be accountability and established processes to address these challenges. And there must be a consistent and shared view of reporting for all of this. Too often, sales and marketing are focused on different reporting with sales looking at their pipeline which leads to commissions and marketing focused on lead conversions but also looking at pipeline.

Most sales people are driven by their commissions and that means they have to hit or exceed their quotas to have a great payday at the end of the quarter. In organizations where the sales leadership is overly influential, marketing is driven towards producing “leads” which can be converted to opportunities that sales can close to make their numbers. These organizations tend to de-value other marketing activities that do not directly generate “leads.” Oddly enough, this over emphasis on lead creation by marketing can lead to a decrease in the number of leads being generated.

The Need for a Balanced Marketing Mix Approach

To optimize lead generation, there needs to be a balanced marketing mix approach that includes lead generation as well as other marketing activities which indirectly contribute to lead generation. However it’s often challenging and in some cases you can’t tie the return on investment back to the tactic in many of these situations. When you cannot directly relate marketing activities to lead creation, other marketing metrics ought to be leveraged to measure the contribution of marketing as these activities are vitally important to the marketing mix. These activities include:

  • Building brand awareness
  • Account based marketing
  • Trade show participation (my favorite because so many people think that trade shows are going to generate a tremendous amount of leads and they never do, but so important for awareness)
  • And a whole other lot of other “marketing stuff”

What are your thoughts, will “we” make a great first impression? What do you think is important for marketing to make a great first impression with sales? What do you think about the importance of alignment between sales and marketing? Let me know what you think in the comments below and feel free to follow along on Twitter, LinkedIn or Subscribe to the Hype and Buzz for regular updates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *