5 Ways to Best Align Sales & Marketing Through Lead Generation & CRM Software

Did you know that aligning your sales and marketing team has the potential to drastically improve your business performance? Though sales and marketing don’t always agree, when the two branches work towards a common lead generation goal, organizations typically see 38% higher sales win rates.

Alignment can come in many forms but ultimately, your sales and marketing departments should have common goals around lead generation, management and nurturing. And there is no better way to do this than by implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) software.

To not only hit but exceed those lead goals, here are five ways you can better align your sales and marketing teams through a CRM software:

Build a Strategy Together

Sales and marketing don’t always see eye-to-eye as they both have different goals. While marketing typically has a much broader scope, focusing on growing markets, introducing new products, retaining customers AND bringing in qualified leads, sales teams, on the other hand, are solely focused around working the pipeline.

To ensure both teams are on the same page when it comes to generating, distributing, qualifying and converting leads I highly recommend implementing a Service Level Agreement (SLA).

lead generation marketing tips

An SLA is essentially a contract that highlights the terms of which one party has agreed to provide another. While SLAs have traditionally been used for customer-facing purposes, they also play a big role internally across departments. In fact, companies with an active SLA are 34% more likely to experience greater ROI year-over-year.

An SLA between sales and marketing would highlight each department’s agreed-upon commitments to one another. An SLA not only allows sales and marketing to hold each other accountable, but it also serves as a critical communication piece that educates departments of one another’s roles, responsibilities, processes, and targets.

When developing your SLA for sales and marketing, here is a list of items to focus on:

  • Clearly define your buyer personas and ideal client profiles
  • Define what qualified, marketing qualified, and sales qualified leads are
  • Assign clear goals for the sales and marketing teams
  • Determine how leads will be handed off between your SDRs and new sales team
  • Identify protocols for managing leads
  • Define the KPIs both sales and marketing will use to assess the progress and effectiveness of your demand generation process
  • Standardize a period of time where you will conduct a review your SLA

Once you’ve implemented an SLA you should soon see consistency in how leads are being created and worked in your CRM. This efficiency will ensure that your reports across teams align and you’re both working towards the same goals.

1. Streamline Communication Between Departments

Communication is one of the biggest causes of conflict among different departments in the workplace. According to PandaDoc, “51 percent of marketers are not satisfied with the level of communication between the teams and 53 percent of sales professionals are not pleased with marketing’s support.” A CRM helps minimize this conflict as it centralizes your data, making it easy for everyone in your company to access updated pipeline information and communication history about prospects and customers in one place.

Successful sales and marketing teams meet frequently and often analyze performance reports often pulled directly from their CRM. Building dashboards or frequently sharing certain KPI reports ensure that leadership is on the same page about progress and areas of potential opportunity. Potential reports to build and share could include:

  • Top of funnel lead reports: total, MQL, and SQL by month
  • Middle of funnel lead reports: marketing generated opportunities by stage
  • Bottom of funnel lead reports: sales by lead source

How does this streamline department communication? By knowing when a prospect was last talked to and the context of the conversation, your sales and marketing teams can work more efficiently. It keeps your sales team from having overlapping outreach and the marketing team can communicate with prospects knowing where the conversation left off and what kind of content might apply to where they are in the buyer’s journey. In fact, teams that align content to specific stages of the buyer’s journey have 73% higher conversion rates.

2. Improve Lead Quality

While there are many ways to improve lead quality, implementing lead scoring for your sales and marketing team is a powerful option. Lead scoring can either be fairly simple or pretty complex depending on how thorough you want to be. Most marketing automation platforms include this functionality, which can then be mapped into a CRM for optimized lead distribution with your sales team. By connecting these two technologies, your marketing team will be able to vet, assess, nurture, and segment leads before they reach the sales team.

Most services will allow you to build your lead scoring model based off of criteria like website visits, email opens or clicks and content engagement. To make sure you’re passing the most qualified leads to your sales team you can also add decay metrics for prospects that have become inactive or gone dark. Overall, this opportunity allows your team to prioritize the warmest leads and reduce wasted time on unengaged prospects, giving sales reps ample time to focus on the prospects who are most likely to convert.   

When building out your lead scoring formula marketing, teams should evaluate items like: 

  • What content the lead has viewed
  • What nurture campaign the lead has engaged with
  • What website pages the lead has visited
  • Whether the prospect fits the demographics of your current customer
  • If the prospect has raised their hand and asked for more info about your company, product or services

3. Increase Your Personalized Outreach

This seems like a no brainer, but it’s always important to emphasize the value of personalization in EVERY communication that goes out, either from your sales or marketing team.

CRMs such as Nimble allow your team to see a complete view of a prospect or customer ’s history with your organization. In return, this allows you to get really smart with your communications. Mapping certain fields into your CRM like lead source enable your sales team to get very personal with their follow up. For example, if a lead came in through a certain PPC campaign it would benefit the sales rep to reply with personalized information about that particular ad campaign.  

Pairing CRMs with sales intelligence tools is also highly valuable for advanced sales and marketing teams. Sales intelligence tools help you fill in the blanks on certain information like ‘when’ and ‘why’ to reach out to a prospect. For example, if you knew the account you’ve been pitching recently shifted their digital marketing spend or launched a new product…it might be a good indication to reach back out.

The more personal an email, the more likely I respond. If the sales rep really thinks through their email and makes it easy to reply, I’ll respond every time.”

-Craig Hyde, CEO of Rigor

4. Nurture Your Leads To The Sale

Closing the sale, especially among the B2B industry, almost never happens on the first touch point. Actually, B2B buyers view anywhere from 3-5 pieces of content before even engaging with a salesperson. This is why it’s so important for sales and marketing teams to work together in closing the deal.

CRMs provide valuable information that can often be mapped back into a marketing automation platform to trigger targeted emails throughout the buyer journey, ultimately helping sales close the opportunity faster. The most successful nurture campaigns are found amongst sales and marketing teams that have great communication.

Why? Typically those teams follow a strict SLA which clearly defines when a lead should progress to the next stage in the funnel, and how it should be tagged in their CRM. In return, this allows the marketing team to map certain stages to the appropriate nurture campaigns.