Uniting Sales and Marketing Teams in an Inbound Marketing Company

December 11, 2015 / by Dane Johnson

teamwork_concept_using_puzzle_piecesOne of the biggest obstacles businesses can face is a poor relationship between the marketing and sales teams. Historically, the two sides have had little nice to say about each other; in fact, 87 percent of marketers and salespeople describe the others negatively.

However, it’s far better for an inbound marketing company to view these two supposedly opposite teams instead as on the same team. Studies show that companies with strong alignment between their marketing and sales teams experience 20 percent yearly revenue growth. Those that don’t can experience an annual revenue loss of 4 percent.

Unify around shared goals 

It’s clear, then, that a sales and marketing team that works together is better than one that butts heads, but how do you go about achieving this? It’s simple – both teams must unite around shared goals. They need to have the same goals to be on the same team!

These goals should be tied to sales quotas and based around buyer personas. Each side of the team needs to have visibility into each other’s goals and should maintain continual communication about the buyer personas. Most importantly, the two sides should share in the celebration when these goals are met!

Two teams, one strategy

As an inbound marketing company, there are several considerations that need to be made to unify your sales and marketing teams. The first is to speak the same language. Your teams should base your activities around the sales and marketing funnel; the top third is the duty of the marketing teams, the bottom third is for sales, and the two teams share the middle.


Each stage in the funnel represents a different stage for a contact as a potential customer. At the very top is a prospect. Essentially just a visitor, this contact hasn’t gone any farther than being aware of the product or service. Once they’ve explored a little further, they become classified as a lead, then a marketing qualified lead. This means that the marketing team has ensured that they are a worthy lead to send to sales, where they become a sales qualified lead. After this, sales moves them along to an opportunity, and once they close, they become a customer.

How to handle these contacts comes down to their level of interest and how good of a fit they are. These exist as a sort of spectrum; if a contact has little interest but seems like a good fit, they need to be nurtured by marketing, while an interested but ill-fitting contact should be given to sales to take orders to possibly make them a better fit. If they are both a good fit and highly interested, sales needs to follow up as soon as possible. Following up within 1 hour makes it 60 times more likely to qualify the lead.

Crunch the numbers on both sides

Another important practice is implementing a service level agreement. This is what each team commits to in order to achieve revenue goals. From the marketing side, it should be based around the number and quality of leads. For sales, it should focus on what level of depth and speed of lead follow up is reasonable. As you go further up the funnel, this should increase; for example, if you expect 100 customers, you should account for 200 opportunities, 400 sales qualified leads, and so on.

It's also beneficial to rely on data. Use dashboards to clarify your data to develop a better understanding among your teams. Marketing could use a graph displaying your service level agreement. Sales could employ activity reports like bar graphs to show what salespeople are getting the best conversion rates. When things go wrong, it’s important to use this data, not emotions, to resolve the issue. Analyze your data to see what works and what needs improvement.

Communicate clearly and effectively

Closed-loop reporting is also an important practice. This is essentially a feedback loop between sales and marketing. Keeping the communication cycle flowing in both directions helps the two teams work well together. Marketing can ensure that contact info is up to date and provide status updates, learn what marketing programs are effective and which aren’t, and increase marketing ROI. Sales, on the other hand, can clear up and duplicate leads, prioritize leads, and increase close rates and sales ROI.

Open communication is ultimately the most important element of unifying your sales and marketing teams. Weekly meetings together with both teams will go a long way in increasing your overall sales and revenue. Keeping both teams on the same page is essential to any inbound marketing company.

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Since 2002, Half a Bubble Out has been dedicated to providing marketing, advertising, and small business consulting that meet the needs of our clients. We specialize in powerfully telling stories through Inbound Marketing to grow your business filled with more passion and provision. Based in Chico California, we serve clients throughout Northern California and across the country to New York.  

Topics: Marketing, Sales

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