Accelerating Your Sales Funnel While Sales and Marketing Works in Alignment with Greg Bond
In this presentation, Greg discusses the b2b buyers’ journey and its changing patterns. Greg stresses the importance of sales and marketing working in alignment and how they might do so.
Greg Bond is Vice President of sales at Constant Contact- Providing small businesses with tools to simplify and amplify digital marketing.
“53% of marketing and sales professionals say that the failure to align sales and marketing means that you have fewer leads that convert to sales.”
“Make sure you can see every step of that buyer’s journey and connect to the data and all the way from you know your first touch when they enter your funnel through all the touches in the middle to before you convert them into a sale and the customer.”
Results of aligning your sales and marketing teams:
- Optimizing your marketing spend
- Shortening your sales cycle
- Improving the buyer experience
Hello. Well thank you so much for joining me today to accelerate your sales funnel, whilst sales and marketing alignment is critical as part of the Demand Gen Summit.
So recently we at Constant Contact recently put out a survey in partnership with ascend that benchmarks the performance of marketing strategies and tactics and the technology that drives them. And we surveyed 329 sales and marketing professionals during the month of February. And about half of those were marketing folks and the other half were sales folks and in this survey in this market research, we found that 53% of marketing and sales professionals say that the failure to align sales and marketing means that you have fewer leads that convert to sales. And I think that’s sort of a no brainer, in some ways, but in other ways. You know, more than half of the people we surveyed are saying that they have this problem that they recognize that this is a major problem. And I think when you think about the way marketing and sales are working together today in most organizations, there is an issue with the alignment between the sales and marketing teams, and therefore they’re not converting nearly as many leads into sales as they wanted. And this is historical, right? It’s traditional. You know if this looks familiar marketing and sales there’s a big wall of confusion when you silo these two departments when they don’t share the same goal, the same data, the same information.
What you end up with is a marketing organization that’s taking leads that are coming in through whatever marketing campaigns they have, they’re slapping an MQL on the side of it and they’re counting that hey, I got an MQL sales and they toss it over the wall to the sales team. And the sales team is sitting over there saying hey, you know these leads suck they’re not great. I can’t close them. They don’t have any intent. And you know, they’re complaining and pointing over at marketing and saying, why are you sending me all of these MQLs that won’t close? And the marketing teams over there saying, hey, sales, why aren’t you following up? I’m sending you all these really great MQLs and we’re not closing enough deals, what’s going on? I’ve given you tons and tons of leads. You know, your team must not be very good and they point the finger back at sales.
I mean, this is the way most organizations run today. And the main reason for that but reason that this happens is that in the reason that sales and marketing are not aligned is they don’t have a common goal marketing is judged on how many MQLs they’re generating, and sales is judged on how many deals they’re bringing in from those MQLs. But they, since they don’t share the same goal and they don’t have the same metrics that they’re being measured on. There’s a disconnect. There’s a misalignment here, and this is what we’re going to talk about today.
We’re going to dive a little bit deeper into this. And what we’re going to outline are three things that sort of happened naturally as a result of aligning your marketing and sales teams. I mean, this is the way you will accelerate your sales funnel and close more deals. So first we’re going to talk about optimizing your marketing spend. Second, we’re going to talk about how you can shorten your sales cycle, and third, improve the buyer experience.
But before we jump into all of that, I wanted to quickly introduce myself.
My name is Greg Bond and I’m the VP of sales at constant contact. I work on our sales accelerator product, which is a newer product coming from an acquisition of a company called SharpSpring. And it just complements our typical digital marketing technology stack that you’re used to from constant contact. It’s a product that’s built around a sophisticated marketing and sales funnel. And yeah, I want to kind of dive in a little bit deeper on how you can be a demand gen marketer as someone who’s looking to drive more demand into your business. How can you take advantage of accelerating that sales funnel by helping align your marketing and sales teams?
With that, let’s go ahead and jump in and get a little deeper here on optimizing your marketing spend. So, when you look at your marketing campaigns, first and foremost, everyone talks about attribution and campaign attribution. And what these numbers here on this chart seem to show you is your breaking down a percentage of something that is attributed to your different campaigns, right. But the something the x in this that we don’t know what it is, is it MQL is it deals it that’s where we get back to what is that common goal? What is that goal that your team is going to share? And align on? If it’s MQL, and you’re looking at this from a marketing campaign attribution, how many MQL is what percentage of our MQL are we attributing to each one of these buckets, but then you got to ask yourself a further question. You got to dig a little bit deeper, and you’ve got to be able to tie that to a one loss ratio. You need to know which of these campaigns are the ones that are actually bringing you the most closed one deals with which percentage is higher, and then you want to take that even a step further. And you want to focus on all the deals that you want and what campaign did they come from and what journey did someone take? What buyer journey happened? What are the engagements, sales, marketing engagements, what are all the different touch points that we’ve had with that customer that we’ve won, and really dig in and analyze it and understand these are your quality leads? Where did they come from? What path did we take them down? How did we nurture them? What messaging did they respond to? And really, really dig in?
What we call it is the life of the lead digging into the life of lead and understanding how they took a path from initial acquisition of a lead all the way through customer acquisition when they converted as a sale, and really understanding what is it about these leads and the campaigns that they interacted with that drove the most results the one closed one deal results also, and I don’t want it to go, you know, without being analyzed as well. As you got to look at the close loss side too, right? You’re spending a lot of money to acquire these leads, and drive demand and drive leads into the business. But if you can’t even look at the ones you’ve lost, the ones you’ve lost can almost always because more often than not it’s a larger percentage that you’re losing, than you’re winning. Look at those close loss deals as well and understand well what happened there, what journey did they take, what where did they come from, which of our campaigns has the most closed lost deals? And is there something we can do from a marketing standpoint, to target better to focus a little bit better on those that are winning as opposed to losing? How do we how do we cut out the large number of MQLs carve them off of our spend that aren’t going to convert or haven’t converted or you know, what bucket are they in for this close loss analysis that we can from a marketing standpoint, and from a demand gen standpoint, how can we hone in how can we target better because what you’re going to end up doing is saving a lot of money that you’re spending on people that aren’t going to convert and you can take that money and reinvest it into the people who will convert from your closed one analysis, right.
So that’s the best way for you to dig in and really optimize your marketing spend so that you can focus on the higher quality leads the ones that are coming from the better places and make sure that your mix that you’re passing over to your sales team is the highest quality leads that you can possibly get them and take a lot of the leads that aren’t going to convert off their plate. Also, don’t forget that there’s self-attribution here, right there don’t just rely on the tools you have for attribution. We know branding exercises and demand gen exercises aren’t always the easiest to track so don’t fall down the trap of only optimizing the things that you can track easily with a software make sure you’re getting self-reported attribution and collect that data and run that data alongside your closed one your closed lost your you know system wide tool attribution data. Look at those together and understand where is it that people are self-reporting and do the closed one closed loss analysis there too, because you want to make sure you’re not falling into that trap of only being able to analyze the places where you can easily attribute.
People will tell you if they saw a video on LinkedIn or you know, an ad somewhere else or you know, word of mouth was the self-reported attribution. Those all come in looking like direct traffic or SEO right but they’ll tell you if they saw it somewhere else or if they came in for other reasons. So please don’t forget that. And that’s the way that you’re going to help optimize your marketing spin.
So secondly, getting into the shorter sales cycle. Shortening the sales cycle is all about mix, right? When we talk about the leads that are coming in, there’s high intent leads and there’s low intent leads like the purchase intent of the person coming into the funnel has a lot to do with their sales velocity, the speed with which they’re going to that you’re going to get them to close a deal. And if you’re doing some of the stuff from the earlier step to optimizing your spend and focusing on those people who are converting, you’re going to find that there are some of your campaigns that have a higher sales velocity.
People who are raising their hand saying I want to talk to sales, I’m in buying mode right? You will be able to have educated those people, those people are finding your content. They’re finding your information elsewhere on the web, and the first time they enter your sales funnel, they’re ready to buy right? They’ve been educated already. Those are higher intent leads and your goal as a marketer is that demand gen marketers to try to get more and more of those people into your funnel to begin with, right so if the mix if the overall percentage of the leads you’re bringing in are higher intended means you’re educating them a lot further up, up market, your branding exercises are working your demand gen is working. And you’re going to have a much shorter sales cycle on those.
You’re likely not going to be able to run your entire business on just those high intent fully educated leads, they’re coming in so your sales team is still going to have to do some education and you’re going to have to do some demand gen with maybe BDR or something like that. But do those lower intent people that are going to be kind of coming in earlier in their buyers journey, they’re going to take longer, they’re going to have a slower sales cycle the conversion rate to a close one deal from an MQL is much lower on those people who have a lower intent profile when they enter your funnel. You have to nurture them longer.
So just know that the mix of those needs to make sense for you to have an accelerated sales funnel, you want to focus on the ones that are a lot further down their own buyer’s journey and pull them into the funnel to accelerate that when you’re doing less educating and more selling, I mean this is one of the things that both marketers and salespeople from the survey we did and the research that we’ve put together with a send to both marketing and sales professionals agree on this one that the point of the buyers experience that is most negatively impacted when marketing and sales aren’t aligned, it is that educating sales readiness, right?
Both marketing and sales agree that the most important thing is to get out there educate these customers and educate them both in the same way. Make sure that your marketing materials what you’re educating the market that your sales team is aware of it so that they can have the same conversation and be open to feedback from the sales team saying Well hey, that’s not why people are buying and then you might have to change your messaging to make sure that you’re getting that education out in the market that pulls in the type of people who are going to have a higher velocity of sale and get through the buying process faster. So really get close with your sales and marketing team, get them closer together, get them in the room together, talk about what’s working, talk about what’s not working, share campaign information with your sales team and allow them to provide that level of feedback into the marketing process so that you can refine your messaging you can educate people further up a funnel so that when they come in sales and marketing, you’re speaking the exact same language and it’ll accelerate that funnel for you.
So here I want to talk about being able to improve the buyer experience. Improving the buyer experience comes down to where someone is in the buyer’s journey. The b2b buyer’s journey these days has been and there’s been a ton of talk about it that the b2b buyers journey has changed significantly. It’s no longer linear; people move in and out of it. They’re educating themselves more and more online. They’ll come to you for white paper and they’ll leave and they won’t come back for a long time.
The key here is trying to find them when they enter your funnel. Figure out where in their buyer’s journey they are using the levers that you have of content, behavioral tracking, understanding where they are, what are they engaging with, and making sure that you have a clear delineation of the content that you have that speaks to a certain stage of a buyer’s journey. And when they engage with that content, you will know it, you’ll know where they are and you can identify. Are they coming in at the very beginning of their buyer’s journey? Are they coming in somewhere in the middle? Are they at the end? Are they at the bottom of the buyer’s journey at the bottom of the funnel and you just need to get under sales as quickly as possible to get the data to get them to convert, as we talked about in the last section.
You know, being able to sort of accelerate that shorten that sales cycle is finding people at the bottom of their journey right they’ve already been educated somewhere else on some other platform. They already know what they’re looking for. They’ve already defined the requirements of the thing, the thing that they want to purchase, and they’re coming to you because now they trust you and they want to buy from you. And so you need to get them to sales as quickly as possible. But you can’t treat every person the same. You have to be able to understand where they are in their buyer’s journey when they engage with you and be able to personalize their experience and personalize the content that you’re providing them or personalizing. Their journey within your organization, your internal organization, sales organization and process and get them to give them either the nurturing content they need or get them directly to sales. So making sure that you can track that buyer’s journey and use the data to track that customer lifecycle from end to end is a very important part of this.
Only 20% of those surveyed said that they could track the entire customer lifecycle from end to end. This is a hugely important piece of this. Even the people in the survey who said that they can mostly track if mostly only means that you can track them through MQL or SQL. You don’t actually have the ability to track them all the way to the bottom of the funnel where you can report on which of these campaigns which of these buyers which journeys resulted in a person buying from us if you can’t provide that level of feedback into the system. The system is going to have problems. You will have sales and marketing misalignment; you will have a slower sales cycle because you won’t understand exactly what it is that’s driving those deals at the bottom of the funnel. You won’t really know what’s driving revenue. You will know what’s driving other steps in the revenue process.
But really it’s about what’s driving revenue and where is it that people are falling out. You need to be able to see it, you really need to be able to look at every stage of that buyer’s journey and optimize each step along that journey. So that you can accelerate your sales funnel it’s the probably the most important thing if you can take away anything from this is make sure you can see every step of that buyer’s journey and connect to the data and all the way from you know your first touch when they enter your funnel through all the touches in the middle to before you convert them into a sale and the customer.
So, with that I’m going to summarize really quickly here. You want to make sure you connect marketing through a closed one loss analysis in order to optimize that marketing spend and prioritize those higher quality leads. You know people hate to buy or sorry, people hate to be sold, but they love to buy especially, you know the right people that come into your funnel or are in buying mode. They already know they’ve already been educated. They’re in buying mode. So you want to make sure you’re providing them with the right educational content in the right places in their journey so that they enter your journey with a higher sales velocity and you can shorten that sales cycle.
And lastly, you can improve that buyer experience by meeting them where they are right. You want to track their lifecycle, understand where they are when they enter your funnel and be able to present the next step that moves them that much closer to a close one sales.
Lastly on our report one of the things that we saw in this ascent to report is that the organizations that actually do all of these things deliver a better customer experience. And so, for those organizations that are delivering an excellent customer experience, they’re more likely to have integrated tools and systems, a full view of the customer lifecycle and more revenue growth in the last 12 months.
So again, you know, we can get you the report. If you want to take a look at the full report. You want to download it. You can scan this QR code, the state of sales and marketing alignment or you can just go to our website- Constant Contact sales accelerator is where you would find it and go to constantcontact.com for more sort of easy to use digital marketing platform information.
Thank you so much for listening and I will talk to you later.