We talk a lot about the importance of aligning sales and marketing teams – it’s the DNA of our business. I have realized in my 12 month journey with Sugar Market, previously Salesfusion, that the definition of ‘alignment’ largely depends on your audience. From processes to the physical location of teams, organizations are constantly experimenting with ways to increase the efficiency of two teams who are equally dependent on each other for their own success.
One of the primary places this alignment manifests itself, both in our own team as well as within our customers and prospects, is in the ability to understand the buyer journey. For our sales and marketing team (and yes, I choose to say our sales and marketing team as a collective unit), we work together on a daily basis to better understand our buyer journey. It takes constant communication, perpetual A/B testing and, most importantly, systems and processes that give both teams a creative foundation. By providing transparency into the buyer journey, both teams are able to refine their process and become more closely aligned.
I am in the unique position to be both a student and a teacher in how best to measure, communicate and refine the buyer journey between marketing and sales teams. We have a remarkable internal process but I also get to learn each day from our customers and prospects. From this experience, I have identified a few critical areas to consider when examining the buyer journey for any team:
- Your marketing and sales teams need to mutually agree on the criteria for a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and a sales qualified lead (SQL). The journey for each SQL may be slightly different but there should be a core set of criteria that both teams agree on that best determine if a lead is ready to be contacted by sales. It’s also important during this conversation for sales to develop a better understanding of marketing’s role in getting a lead to this point. The better sales can understand the journey, the better equipped they are to provide marketing valuable feedback and respect the amount of work that goes into progressing a lead to this point.
- Develop a lead scoring profile that makes sense for both teams. I have seen a lot of organizations that get really excited about lead scoring – a little too excited. You want a profile that is easy and can be clearly communicated to both teams. A simple profile lays the foundation to measure core areas, be nimble and incorporate more sophisticated aspects down the road.
- Make the most of your data. It’s the best way to understand what’s working and what’s not. Your marketing and sales systems house incredible data. Use it. I understand data analysis isn’t necessarily at the top of everyone’s ‘to-do’ list. That’s why implementing systems that make it considerably easier to extract that data, like Sugar Market, is critical. Data is the best way to not only understand the buyer journey but to understand what that buyer journey looks like for every opportunity in your pipeline, both won and lost. For our team, the ability to analyze this data resulted in immediate, informed adjustments to our lead scoring profile. This increased the efficiency of our Sales Development Representatives and improved the focus of our marketing team.
All of these points aside, the most important aspect for any organization is that understanding the buyer journey isn’t only a sales or marketing responsibility. It’s a collective responsibility owned by both teams. Specific lead followup actions may be owned by sales or marketing at certain phases, but in the best organizations, the overall buyer journey is a seamless experience across both.