In my previous role as the marketing manager for an engineering firm, I worked with TREW on a company rebranding, which included a new website that used HubSpot as both its marketing automation tool and its content management system (CMS). To get better acquainted with the tool, I attended one of HubSpot’s in-person training sessions. For the first three days of the classroom training, I learned how to use the tools in HubSpot’s Marketing Pro subscription. On the fourth day, I was joined by one of our vice presidents of sales for a Sales and Marketing Alignment training.
Sales and marketing alignment is essential to a successful business. HubSpot’s marketing software, especially when used with their customer relationship management (CRM) software, can be a great tool to help achieve alignment. Here are the top takeaways for ensuring sales and marketing alignment for your team.
Create a Service-Level Agreement Between Sales and Marketing
One of the primary purposes of marketing is to support sales and help them to achieve their goals. In short, marketing provides a service to sales. Typically, when a service is provided by one party to another, the parties will enter into a service-level agreement (SLA) whereby the deliverables of the service are defined. SLAs are most often between a vendor and a customer, but SLAs can also be useful between departments within the same company. In your SLA with your sales team you should:
Set Goals for Both Parties. Marketing’s goals should support the goals of the sales team. Goals for sales might include a specific revenue, number of deals, and number of opportunities. Goals for marketing can include number of marketing qualified leads (MQL), number of leads, and volume of web traffic. Using algebra and last year’s numbers, you can work backwards to fill in the blanks based on your new goals.
Make Your Goals SMART. To set yourself up for success, set goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
Define Initiatives for Both Parties. These are tasks or campaigns that will be executed to help achieve each party’s goals. It’s best to include time frames for these initiatives.
Make Promises to Stay Accountable. Just like a penalty clause helps parties stay accountable in an SLA between a business and a customer, it’s important for marketing and sales to make promises to each other about what they will do if they do not meet their goals.
Establish Messaging, Campaigns, and a Content Calendar
In addition to brand messaging, agree on specific, consistent messaging for the products and services offered by your company. Create campaigns to support your sales and marketing goals and brainstorm content topic ideas to support these. Arrange the content on a content calendar to set your schedule for the year. Coordinate marketing content calendars with sales calendars to generate marketing buzz around significant sales events.
Decide How Leads Will Be Handled
Agree on Buyer Personas and Lead Scoring
To help marketing better qualify leads and pass them onto sales, sales and marketing should agree on buyer personas, which are semi-fictitious representations of your perfect customer. A lead that matches some of the company characteristics of your buyer personas, such as budget or industry, is likely more qualified than one without those characteristics. If your organization uses lead scoring (HubSpot has great tools for automating this), sales and marketing should agree on point values and assign them based on a lead’s characteristics. For example, you may assign a positive point value for a lead that has downloaded three pieces of gated content and assign negative points if the lead represents a company with a lower annual revenue than your buyer personas.
Define a Lead Handoff Procedure
Leads begin with and are nurtured by marketing, but eventually, sales will take over. At what point do you hand off a lead to sales? Define what criteria a lead must meet to become a marketing qualified lead (MQL), as well as what will happen when a lead becomes an MQL. Decide how sales will be notified when there is a new MQL (HubSpot allows for automatic notifications). Determine what information needs to be shared with sales and how it will be shared.
Define a Lead Handback Procedure
In some cases, sales may review an MQL and decide that they are not ready for sales involvement. For example, a lead may have characteristics of your buyer personas, but not have a timeline defined for their project. In these situations, a lead will typically be handed back to marketing for further lead nurturing. Define what this handback procedure will look like including what criteria determines whether a lead is handed back, how marketing will be notified, and what will happen after it is handed back.
Sales and marketing should participate in an alignment meeting ahead of every new year to set goals, create an SLA, and decide how leads will be handled. In addition to regular reporting on SMART goal metrics (monthly, weekly, or even daily), we recommend having regular follow-up meetings at least quarterly to check in on the status of sales and marketing goals. Existing goals should be reviewed and revised, if necessary, and new goals set based on the goals of the business. These regular check-ins are also an opportunity to review your content calendar and discuss lead-generating and sales enablement content needs. Since sales interfaces directly with the customer, they will have a good pulse on what information customers are looking for, but not yet finding.
The relationship between sales and marketing is essential to any business. However, without proper alignment between the two departments, it can be difficult to attract and engage with the right customers. Setting goals together, creating a service agreement, agreeing on content and messaging, setting a lead process and procedure, and meeting regularly are all great ways to establish and maintain strong sales and marketing alignment.
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