sales marketing teamworkIt’s common knowledge that sales and marketing don’t always get along. With scuffles over lead quality, revenue attribution, and lead assignment, it’s often a miracle if your two teams are even on speaking terms. And unfortunately, if neither team is willing to compromise, this can easily spiral out of control. Marketing becomes offended when sales dismisses the leads that they pass on, and sales becomes more and more frustrated with lead quality. And before you know it, your sales and marketing teams have declared an all-out war.

This might sound a bit dramatic, but for some companies, it’s their reality. When sales and marketing don’t get along, lead management and lead generation processes can suffer, which ultimately impacts your revenue. That’s why it’s important to address sales and marketing alignment instead of sweeping it under the rug. And fortunately, many of today’s marketing technologies have been created with the sales and marketing dynamic in mind. Marketing automation is one such technology.

With marketing automation, you can turn lead qualification into an objective process that both your sales and marketing teams have input on, meaning that your marketing team will quickly be passing only high-quality leads on to sales. It won’t be long before your two teams have found common ground when it comes to lead quality and revenue attribution. Let’s take a look at a few more ways that companies can improve sales and marketing alignment:

1. Don’t waste time on bad data

Do you know why sales reps tend to prefer their own leads to marketing-sourced leads? Often, it’s because the reps have been working those leads for longer, meaning that they’ve already collected a wealth of data for each of their accounts. Having a system in place to streamline the data collection process can easily reduce this bias. With forms and landing pages on your site for product demos or content downloads, the marketing team can start collecting a detailed store of data to go with each lead that gets passed to sales.

2. Pursue only the hottest leads

Lead quality is one of the biggest sources of contention between marketing and sales — and the solution is much simpler than you would think. Once marketing and sales have decided on a unified definition of a qualified lead, a blended scoring and grading model can ensure that only the most qualified leads get passed from marketing to sales. A lead score will determine whether leads have a high enough interest level to be passed along to sales, and a lead grade will indicate whether or not a lead is a good enough fit (so that sales doesn’t waste time pursuing site visitors who might just be job hunting or conducting competitive research). And once leads have reached an ideal score and grade, they can be fairly and automatically assigned out to sales, cutting down on manual work.

3. Make sure leads are sales-ready

Even if leads are qualified and a great fit, they’re often not ready to make an immediate purchase. Instead of letting leads slip through the cracks and get picked up by competitors, which can get both marketing and sales in trouble, the marketing team can set up lead nurturing campaigns that will periodically “drip” valuable content to prospects over time, keeping your company top of mind. That way, when prospects reenter the sales cycle (or move from one stage of the sales cycle to the next), they’re already educated — so sales won’t have to waste any time bringing them up to speed.

4. Give credit to the right team

Even if leads are getting passed correctly, there can still be qualms over revenue attribution. Sales argues that the leads they’ve been talking to for a while are sales-sourced, while marketing is certain that the leads came from one of their own campaigns. Closed-loop reporting can clear up this gray area by attributing closed deals to the campaigns that sourced them, so it’s never a mystery where leads originated. This means that marketing can tie their spend to campaigns, and sales is always aware of how marketing is contributing to revenue.

If you’re looking for more information on sales and marketing alignment, take a look at our new white paper, “Your Guide to Sales and Marketing Alignment,” by clicking on the banner below.