We’ve explored where the division between sales and marketing departments can often begin and the affect it has. We now look at how sales and marketing need shared definitions and targets to ensure they can work towards a shared goal.
How qualified is a lead?
Research shows that 80% of leads generated by marketing are rejected by sales (1) and for the average B2B company, only 5 to 10% of ‘qualified’ leads actually convert into customers (2). Clearly, something doesn’t add up, and there’s often a gap between what’s considered a marketing qualified lead (MQL) – leads that marketing see as ready to hand to sales – and a sales qualified leads (SQL) – leads that also meets the criteria of the sales team.
The BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing) methodology for qualifying leads is well known to most marketers and salespeople, but is rarely applied evenly throughout an B2B organisation. In fact, one study found that under half of organizations say that their sales and marketing teams have a shared, formal definition of qualification (3).
Bridging the Gap
To bridge this gap, think about how both teams can review their definitions of a qualification. Your marketing team may need to start listening to what sales see as qualified, to understand what they should be classifying as sales-ready. Research shows that as little as 5 to 15% of all inquiries are truly sales-ready (4), so passing these ‘leads’ through to sales probably won’t be the best use of the sales team’s time. On the other hand, it’s important for sales not to over-qualify. Some leads may actually need contact from a sales person – if they’re ready to progress further down the pipeline, why keep them stuck within lead nurturing programmes? In the worst-case scenario, this can lead to ‘buck-passing’ – where marketing will blame sales for not converting their leads, whilst sales will blame marketing for sending over too many under-qualified leads.
Think about what you can do with leads that are stuck in the gap between being a MQL and SQL. How can you progress these leads, and which team should take responsibility for this? You should think about how to plan something “actionable”, that has a clear course of action and both teams know the extent of their role.
The miss-match between sales and marketing is often due to different priorities. For example, in some organisations, marketing teams are assessed on their ability to produce leads, so they aim to generate high volumes, whilst sales are assessed on their conversion rates, so the fewer, more qualified leads they have, the better. In these cases, these different priorities will lead to different ideas about what’s of value, the areas each team wants to target and the KPIs they set. To become better aligned, sales and marketing should try to identify shared goals and targets. What will benefit them both? How can they get the balance right?
Ultimately, there’s a lot more overlap between Sales and Marketing than each team tends to believe and in order for departments to align, both teams need to work together towards a shared goal, cooperating throughout the entire sales process.