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SPOT ON SAYS

It's Time to Bring Marketing and Sales Together

Posted by Shari Shepard

Jun 6, 2017 9:00:00 AM

aircraft-1282722_1920.jpgIt's all about synchronicity. In case you missed it, we launched our Perpetual Growth Podcast recently. For our first episode, we invited Rachael Plummer who works in the HubSpot Partner Program to talk to us about the benefits of marketing and sales alignment, and the pitfalls of not moving in that direction. 

Why have marketing and sales works separately for so long? How can the two work together? What is smarketing anyway? Get the answers to those questions plus some extra golden nuggets of knowledge by reading the transcript below. Or scroll to the bottom of this post to listen to the original podcast.

Bringing Marketing and Sales Together

Susie: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Rachael: I work at HubSpot. I'm a channel account manager which basically means I work with a bunch of marketing agencies just like Susie and the Spot On team and basically help them with their sales efforts, closing new business, pricing and packaging, scaling, the list goes on and on. But I'm happy to be here.

S: Part of my duty at Spot On is business development and that's really what I've done my whole career, which just makes perfect sense when we're beginning to talk about how sales has changed since the internet has become so prevalent in use. It makes sense for us to begin this conversation. Traditional sales practices just aren't working anymore.

The consumer is so well-educated that unless a sales person can add value, they[consumers] don't need them[sales reps]. They [consumers] rely on them so much less for information because they can go on the internet, find what they're looking for, find solutions to their problems, choose who they want to work with, all before they ever even talk to a salesperson. So this has made what we call inbound sales a challenge for traditional salespeople to convert the way they used to. So why are we talking about this? There's been so much time devoted to bringing marketing up into the future and coinciding with the way consumers want to be marketed to and it's time that sales does the same.

So we're going to talk about how we can create a happy marriage between inbound, the new way of marketing, and inbound sales, the new way the sales team can sell to consumers.

Why do you think marketing and sales have operated separately for so long?

Good question. I think, if we look at the way that marketing and sales both used to function, it's pretty different than the way things are now. I think marketing used to be more general, sometimes more fluffy, more visual. It wasn't you know the way think about marketing now, which is, how can the marketing team help to generate new leads in sales for or with the sales team. It wasn't always measurable the way that it is now.

I think sales used to be very different too - cold calling, they used to control the information they would push to that prospect. So things have definitely changed, but that for the most part, it was like that so long because there was no way to take both of those functions and bring them into the same place, especially if they weren't measurable. There was no common ground between the two of them, so they just kind of kept going in their own direction doing their own thing.

S: That makes so much sense. And the clients I'm working with today I hear that from sales people all the time. That trying to get in touch with the right people on the phone is just about impossible because they have caller ID, they can completely ignore you and never answer the phone.

So what about lopsided teams, where either marketing is more traditional, or sales is more traditional and the other is more oriented towards inbound? What kinds of challenges or friction have you seen that might result from that?

I think if we think about the marketing team as forward-thinking and more inbound focussed, I think we've seen marketing teams adopt the inbound movement sooner. Let's say for example the sales team is more traditional more, old-school, more cold-calling, it can create a lot of problems. I think inbound leads - what an inbound marketing team would be generating - the whole focus and the way that they generate those leads is in a helpful way. They're putting out a series of offers, not just "contact us," not just "get a quote." But they'll have for example, "10 Tips for Your Next Free Design," or "Five Things to Consider When XYZ."

So if you think this forward thinking inbound marketing team is generating leads in this helpful way, those leads that they're generat might not be ready to talk to a sales rep. They'll pass the lead over to sales, and they're thinking "Great! We just generated all these leads for you guys." And the sales team gets them, and they give them a call, and they say "Hey, this is Rachael from HubSpot. Can I tell you about my software?" And this person is like "Who are you and why are you calling me?! I don't even know what your company is," because that person just thinks hey, I just downloaded a ten-step guide. They didn't know someone was actually going to follow-up with them.

It can create a lot of friction in that, the marketing team is working really hard, the sales team is working really hard, but the types of leads that the marketing team is providing to sales, sales might not actually know how to close them. They might be functioning in that old-school way where they're answering a lead by basically using the same methodology they would during a cold call. It can be challenging. I think we kind of have to take that sales team and change their process to align with those new inbound leads and figure out a way to make them helpful and make their process more consultative.

So if you think this forward thinking inbound marketing team is generating leads in this helpful way, those leads that they're generat might not be ready to talk to a sales rep. They'll pass the lead over to sales, and they're thinking "Great! We just generated all these leads for you guys." And the sales team gets them, and they give them a call, and they say "Hey, this is Rachael from HubSpot. Can I tell you about my software?" And this person is like "Who are you and why are you calling me?! I don't even know what your company is," because that person just thinks hey, I just downloaded a ten-step guide. They didn't know someone was actually going to follow-up with them.

S: I do run into that all the time and one of the things I think can make both marketing and sales much more effective is if the marketing team actually brings the sales team into their meetings to find out what kinds of questions they're hearing everyday so that [marketing] can [provide] the information for the sales team that they really need.

R: It's all about that communication, for sure.

Definitely. So what do you think businesses stand to gain if they can unite their teams?

I think there's a lot to gain from uniting the teams. If we think about it from the place of the sales rep, and also the prospect, and the marketer, everybody wins if you're aligned in, what we call "smarketing." For that actual prospect, they're getting helpful content sent to them at the right time. The sales team is approaching them with a helpful sales process, because they've been trained on the inbound sales process, but the sales rep also has ammo to go back to that prospect list so they know that person's behavior. They can say, instead of "Hey. My name's Rachael. Can I tell you about my software?" They can say "Hey, I saw you downloaded this ten-step guide. What were you looking for help with?"

It's way more helpful than "hey, this is my software. Can I sell it to you?" It's a better experience for that prospect. It's better for that sales rep. And then for the marketer it's great for them because they've done all this work where they've generated all these leads and they can actually measure the success. They know when they're passing those leads to the sales rep, the sales rep actually has a chance to close them.

S: Yeah, there's some interesting information that says consumers are now 70% of the way through the buyer's journey by the time they're ready to talk to a sales person. And in marketing they can help sales by sharing everything they've learned about that lead during the process, so when they contact them they have a better idea what [the buyer] is interested in... They can tailor their sales pitch to the stage that the buyer is in.

What do you think a successful marriage between a sales and marketing team looks like?

I think there's a few things to consider outside of just adopting the same methodology. For one, aligning goals. I'll never forget when I started at HubSpot five years ago when I went to our first smarketing meeting. We actually have a monthly meeting now called "smarketing." And I was like "what even is this?" because I had come from a company where sales and marketing really didn't like each other that much.

So I went in, and everybody touched on their goals. What was super interesting to me, was that those goals were very much aligned. We call it a Service-Level Agreement, where marketing says "we're going to generate this many new leads for the sales team, and this many of them are going to be qualified leads." And sales team says "we promise to work xyz percentage of those leads and move them through the funnel."

Having those two teams completely aligned on their goals, and everyone has a quota that they're working towards. Not just sales. Marketing has a leads quota, and a marketing qualified leads quota that they're working towards. I think that's super important.

Susie, you mentioned it earlier, but open communication too. I think if we look back 20 years when marketing and sales teams didn't necessarily get along very well. Sales would say, oh marketing never gives us leads, and marketing would say, sales never works our leads!" A lot of it was just lack of communication. The leads [sales] were getting they didn't like but marketing didn't know that and they didn't know how to fix it. So I think just being open about what works really well, what marketing deems is a marketing qualified lead but sales thinks actually isn't one, and everybody being open to working together on those things.

I would say the last thing that is really important to a successful marriage would just be measurement. Just holding everyone accountable. When you're doing inbound on both the marketing and sales side, it's very easy to measure the results and see what percentage of traffic converted to leads, what percentage converted to qualified leads. Then on the sales side, did they actually work those? Did they turn into customers? Measuring those results regularly is very helpful for everyone.

S: That's incredible information and it is so true in today's market.

Recently, HubSpot developed a CRM that works well with their marketing software. How does this help in bring marketing and sales together?

I think any time you have a CRM, whether it's HubSpot or not, speaking directly to your marketing software, it's a win-win-win. It's a win for the prospect, it's a win for the sales person, and a win for the marketer. Any information you're getting on the marketing side - a name, an email, maybe a fact about their company, and then everything they do from that point forward doesn't just go to marketing so that they can market better to that person, but it also goes to sales. So they[sales] know when they start a sales process exactly what that person cares about.

And vice versa. On the marketing side they can what the sales reps are doing, how many times they're emailing this prospect, how many times they're calling them. It just helps to keep that communication open, and again, to report on everything that's going on.

S: The one thing I love about the CRM is it really feels like it's developed for the salesperson because it's so easy to use. In my sales career I've tried probably every CRM out there and could not make myself stick to using any of them because they were too difficult. But as a salesperson myself, I am loving the HubSpot CRM.

R: But I might be a little bit biased...

Perpetual Growth Podcast: Episode 1 - Bringing Marketing and Sales Together

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