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  • Ed Locher

Marketing and Sales Go Together Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter. Or at least they should.

Ah chocolate. How I love thee. It has the power to turn a bad day into good, all by itself. It can comfort just as easily as it celebrates. A reward for good behavior, an incentive to do better, a consolation prize; it’s flexibility is unmatched. It can be combined with so many different things and in almost every circumstance, make them better. Cheesecake? Check. Fruit? Definitely. But perhaps the greatest combination of all time is when you add the magic elixir that is chocolate to the creamy goodness that is peanut butter. If I had to choose only one thing to eat for the rest of my life, it would be peanut butter cups. And I’d be totally fine with that.

The power of the chocolate/peanut butter combination comes from their perfect balance. In proper proportions, the touch of bittersweet in the chocolate combined with the savory/sweet of the peanut butter delivers a sensation that is so much more powerful than either one by themselves. It truly is a case of 1+1=5.

Marketing is similar to chocolate in that it captures prospects attention and tempts them with promises of delight. Sales is more akin to peanut butter, a bit sticky as the sales process can be quite involved, but ultimately it provides calorie dense value to customers. When working in concert, marketing and sales deliver an experience as satisfying as any peanut butter cup. At least, that’s what it should do.

Unfortunately, marketing and sales are oftentimes unwilling partners, and in extreme cases, antagonists. Of course there will always be the natural tension between marketing and sales, but managed correctly and always with respect, this is normal and indeed healthy. Constantly challenging each other to improve workflows, conversions, and ultimately performance, is what great teams do every single day. This begs the question, “How do I create that synergy between my organization and theirs?” The answer is by ALIGNING BOTH TEAMS around:

1. A single source of truth

2. A common set of definitions

3. Clear workflows

4. Service Level Agreements

First, you must agree upon a single source of truth. For Marketers, this typically means working in the CRM (Salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle). It can be a little tricky to ensure the data from your MAP (Marketo, Pardot) makes its way into the CRM, and trickier still to make it bulletproof, but as Sales lives and dies in their CRM, you don’t really have much of a choice. When both teams are using the same system to report, it powers #transparency and #collaboration. If you want to have credibility with Sales, and it’s absolutely critical that you do, it starts with transparency and the place to do that is in the CRM.

Next, you need to jointly establish a common set of definitions. What is the difference between a visitor and a lead? What makes a validated lead? What constitutes an opportunity? What’s the difference between a lead and a contact? There has to be 100% congruence on the definitions for every step in the process, including lead scoring, from first visit on the website to a signed contract through existing customer renewals. Without this alignment, there will be tension around quality and performance. When Marketing delivers leads that meet or exceed the definition, Sales can be assured they are getting what they need. In the other direction, when Sales accepts the opportunity, Marketing can prioritize their investment to deliver more of these types of prospects. When everyone understands, embraces, and adheres to a common set of definitions, the #revenue engine runs more efficiently.

The third element that is critical to a high-performing revenue engine is establishing crystal clear workflows for how the process will work. When a lead is created, what rules are used to assign them to sales? Promotion from the marketing automation platform and assignment in the CRM is not a marketing exercise, nor is it a sales exercise. It’s a joint exercise. Lead passing is constantly evolving as team members come and go, territories are changed, scoring models are updated, and any number of other changes are made. Regularly updating the workflows, I suggest doing this at least quarterly, is critical to maintaining the hygiene of the process and ensuring that it continues to deliver efficiently.

Last, but definitely not least, is defining and measuring Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Once a marketing validated lead has been created, what is the expectation for follow up from the BDR organization? Are you assigning leads directly to Account Execs? Establish rules for follow-up with them as well. Add time stamps to your systems and measure, at the individual level, response times. This can be used to identify gaps in the process, issues with the systems, or even performance metrics for your teams, both marketing and sales. A transparent #demandgen engine is an efficient revenue engine.

Working with a single source of truth, agreeing on common definitions, establishing clear workflows and embracing SLAs are foundational requirements if your marketing and sales teams are going to maximize revenue for your organization. When everyone is aligned and firing on all cylinders, the impact is as delicious and satisfying as a peanut butter cup. And as the peanut butter cup is perhaps the pinnacle of human ingenuity, that’s really saying something.

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