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Aligning sales and marketing teams to fix the broken lead-funnel



Being a marketing expert, one can tell how hard it can be to convert prospects into a potential client. Once these prospects reach the scoring threshold, these are tossed over to the sales to work. While this is what every person working for the marketing team wants, one can too often experience warm marketing leads going cold. The main reason for this could be, that sales prioritized their list over the leads that were sent to them. Moreover, the reason could also be that sales does not want the marketing professionals to do any marketing to their prioritized list because the marketing expert might lack the context of the relationships they are actively cultivating. The result, misaligned goals, lack of communication, poor execution. All of these, results in low trust between the two teams. This deep division between sales and marketing can impact revenue. Hence the question arises, how to fix this funnel?


1. Improving the marketing strategy by targeting the buying group

The traditional method for marketing, the ABM or Account Based Marketing, is no more an apt strategy for working. To get right contacts, the approach needs to be more refined, and for that learning about the buying group is important.


According to research, 94% of B2B purchasing decisions are taken by buying groups and not individuals. These buying groups generally are organizations of small businesses which come together in case of any purchase decisions or other business functions.


The buying group marketing approach focuses on engaging the decision-makers of inside the company’s target account. Under this approach, the buying sentiments of the concerned group are continually monitored and then marketing and sales are curated accordingly. For instance, a manufacturing buying group member is likely to have different concerns than a finance buying group member. Therefore, the content, creative and delivery of services should be aligned in accordance to each group member.


One can identify that traditional solutions have not been sophisticated enough while engaging with buying groups, hence, introduction to new technologies is necessary for providing measures of conversion for the group. One such introduced solution is the Person-Based Advertising solution. It allows not only to capture buyer engagement at an individual but at a buying group level. The technology used in it allows for scores, which indicate the potential of the customer. The data provided can be operationalized through funnel and in existing workflows through platforms such as Salesforce, Market and Outreach. The technology in PBA also allows marketers to notify sales about the engagement activity of the contacts which have higher potential.


2. Rethink the MQL

Marketing Qualified Lead or MQL can be termed as a lead which has indicated interest in what a particular brand has to offer, based purely on marketing efforts. The prospects which have a higher chance to get converted into customers are included in it. Leads which engage themselves in a brand by performing actions such as voluntarily submitting contact information, opting into a program, adding items to their shopping cart via e-commerce, or repeatedly visiting the website, are included under MQL.


If we look at the life cycle of a lead, MQL is the link, where ownership passes from the hands of marketing into the hands of sales. Now, with changing times, MQL needs to be revisited. If a firm has MQL as its Key Performance Indicator, then it is not enough. MQL usually acts as a wall between the sales and the marketing vertical. Getting rid of it would unify the funnel into one holistic buyer’s journey, where sales and marketing activities will not be separate concepts, rather a well-coordinated effort, targeting the entire buying group. This would provide transparency among the two verticals and provide for better alignment.


Sales and marketing- two teams working together

While working on the alignment of the sales and marketing, one often brings the concept of Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) in it, with an aim that the respective teams target the right prospects. An Ideal Customer Profile is an imaginary description of a customer that is perfect for the organization. In other words, a customer who would benefit from your solution and provide significant value in return. ICP allows for improving the overall customer experience, resulting in more successful deals, where all parties are satisfied in the end. While BGM requires sales and marketing to collaborate through the entire funnel, it also makes necessary to align messaging through each stage of the journey.


Moreover, elimination of the MQL will allow for the sales development team to prioritize the BGM to hold more warm conversations. But it should be made clear that when priority goes to the buying group, any engagement with marketing effort is a sign of interest. For instance, marketing is responsible for creating awareness about the brand, for that they might post blogs, create videos etc. When any target clicks on that video or ad, it will depict their interest, and every salesperson must be made aware of this click.


When sales and marketing would work together, their interests are likely to include, aligning on strategies and creating a relevant experience.


If the above methods are adapted, then the way of working for sales and marketing will surely change. But with both verticals working in an alignment, it will become important to watch them closely, understand and agree about the strategies, work with the target audience, and identify the ICP. It must also be defined what type of data is critical for the business, what technology must be promoted to automate the processes etc. Most importantly, sales and marketing teams must ensure that they carefully work together throughout the journey while at the same time putting customers where they should be, in the center.

 

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