Not all marketers seem to look at it this way, but from our perspective, your marketing department's number one objective should be to provide your sales team with good, well-qualifed leads. Similarly, if sales isn't closing the top tier of opportunities each and every cycle, then they aren't benefiting from the marketing department's ability to attract new customers.
In our approach to inbound marketing, the focus on improving the sales close rate requires a commitment from both marketing and sales for maximizing potential growth at every opportunity. This means marketing and sales need well-turned alignment, a flow of feedback, and a contract for remaining helpful to prospects at every point.
When you think about making a change from traditional marketing to an inbound approach you’ve got to first think about how your sales funnel is working today. So, how is your sales force getting leads, what are they expected to do with them, and how many are they getting? If your sales force is spending a lot of time chasing cold leads or working off of cold lists, what you’re going to be doing is changing their mindset—you're going to be actually forming a contract with them, which we call a service level agreement where their behaviors are going to be different and your expectations about what they do is going to be different because your going to be generating higher quality, more purchase-ready leads to them.
It’s not something where you flick a switch to buy a software license, and all of the sudden you have leads streaming in. It’s like getting in shape. You have to commit yourself to keeping on task—to keeping the pressure on the team—and then you’ve got to use the result you start to see to motivate them. Because when they start to see what’s happening, the motivation will start to be internal, and they’ll start to get on board. They’ll start to encourage each other, just like any winning team does.
If you kick this off right, your going to have an energized sales force that is more excited about the business you’re going to ask them to dive into. It’s going to be a more productive use of their time.
As far as your marketing efforts, you are going to be spending more time on creating content, less time on executing communications that are being pushed out to your audience. So, maybe you reduce your resources spent on trade shows for example, which can take up an incredible amount of time and in the end not create a lot of business ready leads. Instead, redeploy your resources to launch a blog and start creating content that people are going to search for, find, download, and identify themselves as eager to talk to you about the kinds of solutions you can provide.
Posted by Greg Linnemanstons With 18+ years in senior management roles at Fortune 500® and medium-sized companies, Greg has deep marketing and sales experience with CPGs and manufacturing. He leads strategic initiatives with clients and is involved in developing client inbound marketing plans. Greg holds an M.B.A. from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and a B.A. in Economics from Lawrence University.