Over the last few months I've spent a lot of time with the excellent folks at HubSpot, both in Dublin and digitally (it's a great perk of being a HubSpot Gold Partner). We've been working at improving our sales and marketing strategy, not just so we can sell more (although that is an excellent bi-product), but so we can sell better.

 

Sales enablement is a strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training and coaching services for salespeople along the entire customer’s buying journey. If you want to find out how it can transform your business, read our blog: 'Will sales and marketing harmony be the death of the sales qualified lead?'

Retention, retention, retention

Getting initial numbers across the line isn't the end game for us. Building a steady and sustainable flow of long-lasting clients is.

Finding a new client can cost, on average, 24 times more than retaining an existing client. As a result, retention in our industry is key. It's a metric we focus on relentlessly. NPS scoring, account management processes, video reports... we've even been known to send a bottle of whiskey just to say thanks.

One of the themes that has come up across HubSpot over the last couple of years is the process of "Smarketing". The out-and-out bastardisation of the English language and overly marketing "wankiness" of the word kills me a little inside, but the concept is sound. More than sound, it's disruptive, and it spells the end for the sales qualified lead.

Why can't we be friends?

Traditionally, marketing and sales worked in silos. Marketing delivered leads to sales, sales sold to said leads. However, with 60% of your sales funnel now over before your sales consultant even speaks to the lead, there's something broken in that model.

There are too many potholes. Mixed messages, poor lead hand-off between departments, a misalignment over what constitutes a sales qualifed lead - all things that will hamper a sale.

There's often an internal battle between sales and marketing, we've seen it in past roles and we've seen it with clients. When there's a bad month, sales blame the volume and quality of leads from marketing. Marketing conversely blame sales for not handling the leads correctly, or not working them enough. Harmony it is not.

So, what's the solution. Sales will be sales, marketing will be marketing, how do we fix the process? Simple - sales and marketing alignment.

Aligning your sales and marketing aims

HubSpot's definition of smarketing is as follows: "The goal is to have measurable goals that each team agrees to hit so there's mutual accountability. For instance, marketing might have a mutually agreed upon leads SLA (service level agreement) to hit, and sales must agree to follow up with a certain amount of those leads."

Effectively, let's get everyone on the same page, pulling in the same direction, with the same goals (which should be the wider business goals.) If you own a business that is trying to raise your current turnover by X percent and you need Y sales to do it, Y should be the primary driver, not Z (how many leads you generated).

So, what's important as a metric to you as a company in that sales process? Based on what we see with a number of our clients across the High Net Worth B2C and B2B space, it's likely to be "meetings set." So why not make that the goal of the marketing team?

As marketers we have the tools to automate and personalise, we can even "be" the sales guys in the process. If we turn a form fill into a part of the process, rather than the end result, we can deliver not only hot prospects, but a calendar full of phone calls and meetings.

Who needs sales qualified leads?

Our typical lifecycle stages for a prospect see us go from lead to marketing qualified lead to sales qualified lead to opportunity to customer. Marketing qualified leads are leads deemed by marketing to fit their criteria - contact details are there, maybe it fits a persona or vertical, maybe it's had a lot of interaction with your nurturing process. Sales qualified leads are those leads deemed worthy (by the sales team) of a direct sales contact.

 

Sales-enablement-lifecycle-stages.jpg

 

The problem with that is, it doesn't quite work anymore. For us, if it's not "worthy" of sales activity, what's the point? We need to ensure that marketing are passing on leads that sell. So, we're dropping the category of sales qualified leads. We don't need it anymore. On top of this, our definition of marketing qualified leads is undergoing a transformation.

If you're feeling confused about your inbound lead generation strategy, or anything else marketing-related, talk to us! We're happy to explain more.

Sales enablement is a strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training and coaching services for salespeople along the entire customer’s buying journey. If you want to find out how it can transform your business, read our blog: 'Will sales and marketing harmony be the death of the sales qualified lead?'

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