Anyone working towards marketing and sales alignment knows that is a challenge. Taking two departments who have historically worked separately and bringing them together is not a small undertaking.
Without generalizing too much, it is safe to say that sales has a different perception of marketing than is actually true, given the tools marketers have today. Once, it was safe to say that marketing created a lot of visually appealing content both in print and online, but that didn’t help sales close customers. That is no longer true today. Today, marketers are data driven. We still follow a strategy that is visually appealing, but that is the cherry on top of the sundae. Visual content is now backed by strategic planning and better yet, data.
So, how do you start a conversation with sales to show them how marketing can be a great resource? You show them data. Salespeople are numbers-driven and results driven by nature. However, since you are up against a learning curve where you are teaching them what marketing can do and the value it provides, you have to be careful which data you show them. Transparency is always key, but giving too much information or showing them a 10,000 foot view of the data will lead to confusion or an oversimplified understanding of what you do.
Clare Controls is a tech company with a focus in security and home automation. We started our partnership in March 2017 with the goals of increasing their online marketing strategy by introducing inbound marketing and starting the conversation and building processes to align with the sales team through sales enablement. In the beginning, it was all about establishing processes. In our partnership with Clare, the key parts of the strategy as it relates to sales enablement were:
1. Setting up the Salesforce and HubSpot integration and creating custom Contact Properties to map most important contact information
2. Defining a clear conversion path from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel we would expect dealers to take
3. Establishing changes in Lifecycle Stage as the dealer follows their path of conversion
4. Notifying the sales team when a dealer lead has become qualified for sales through custom internal email from HubSpot
5. Using marketing automation to nurture leads through this path to make them easier for the sales team to close through emails set up through HubSpot Workflows
6. Setting up HubSpot Messages for a dealer-exclusive chat feature
7. Setting up HubSpot Meetings to allow leads to easily book a meeting with a sales person
8. Creating custom email signature videos for in house sales team members
Six months into our partnership, after the processes were set up and things were moving in the right direction, we were asked to sit down with some of the top salespeople to show them how things were going so far - leads generated, processes established, etc. Just as we would start any normal client meeting, we started with the Sources report (now Analytics tool). Little did we know that would be our first foot in the grave for this meeting. This high level view of performance for the last 6 months was way too much information for them to take in. There are lots of factors to consider when looking at the data presented in this report and when you are thinking only about how those numbers tie to revenue and not how they equate to lead generation and to eventual customers closed, it is not an ideal situation.
While the Sources report reflects accurate data, it was not the right data for that meeting. For example, when looking at leads generated through the Sources report, those are all of the leads generated through the website. In this case, the leads are homeowners, dealers, distributors, and in some cases even people looking for a job to work for the company. The goal for the sales team is to close more dealer leads into customers. Seeing all visits to the website and then leads generated was confusing and frustrating because it was not the right data. It did not show them the numbers that were most important to them.
After the meeting ended and the sales team left the room, we sat down with their marketing team whom we work most closely with and devised a plan. We would schedule a meeting for the following week and show the data in a different way to show the sales team how marketing plays a role in leads generated and customers closed.
In one week, we completely changed the conversation.
We went from this:
Instead of providing that 10,000 foot view of all visits, all leads generated, etc we changed the conversation. We tailored the data by creating a custom report using Databox, that represents the numbers that are most important to them. Their dealer onboarding process has three steps. A dealer must complete their application, make their first purchase, and complete training before they are considered an authorized dealer. For us, it was important to cut out the noise and show clear data. It was no longer about how many leads have been generated in total. It was about how many leads have been generated vs how many have actually been closed following the correct process. When we first produced this report, the number at the bottom of the funnel was 9. Nine dealer leads out of the hundreds had made it all the way through the funnel. This was no longer data to question, but data that sparked action.
By showing this data this way, we were able to show the sales team that marketing efforts were generating qualified leads, but there was a disconnect in the process and in the path of what to do next. We realized that there was no process to follow up with these opportunities, so on the marketing side we implemented workflows to help the sales team move them through the sales process. On the sales side, we educated the team on how to mine the information through filters on the Contact list and find these opportunities to create their daily tasks, calls, and emails. Now, we are setting up Sequences to further automate the process.
With all of these combined efforts, in one month we have seen the number of Opportunities converted into customers who have gone through the three steps of the onboarding process go from 9 to 34. All of this was done with opportunities that were already there in the system. By establishing a process, providing education and tools, and creating custom reports, almost 4 times as many dealers were closed within one month of this custom report being presented.
". . . almost 4 times as many dealers were closed within one month of this custom report being presented."
We still have a long way to go in terms of refining processes and continuing to improve marketing and sales alignment, but we are closer than we were six months ago and I expect we will be even closer in another six months as we continue to rely on data.
Update as of January 19, 2018:
In just over one month since this blog was published, two months after the change in conversation, the number of dealer leads closed into dealers who have completed their three milestone process has doubled. This number of dealers closing combines dealers who originated from Salesforce and were synced to HubSpot and dealers whose first touch was the Clare website. Even though some of these contacts originated from Salesforce, of the 69:
- 30 filled out a form on the website
- 43 interacted with marketing emails
- and all 69 have visited the website
This shows that it takes a combined effort of well established marketing and sales processes to increase your close rate so drastically in such a short period of time; from 9 customers closed following this process to 69 in 2 months.