A successfully integrated, well planned and properly executed Inbound Marketing program can generate amazing results for many businesses. But to be successful, one of the first steps is to make sure that your Inbound Marketing program has sales and marketing alignment.
For example, as we start work with a new client, we go through the initial Inbound Marketing discovery process, and we start to set sales and marketing goals, creating buyer persona/s, and developing Inbound marketing objectives.
At this point we often find that we run into the classic expectation gap between sales and marketing, and it revolves around leads. The sales team want to receive more qualified leads, close sales and manage their accounts, and the marketing team are often more focused on creating great content and delivering traffic, but they're less focused on CTAs, workflows, lead nurturing, conversions and qualifying leads.
When this happens it's time to put the two teams together and make some joint decisions about goals and expectations. But also important questions need to be answered. How does everyone define a lead? And what's the marketing-to-sales lead hand-off process going to be? And how do sales report back to marketing with their lead success feedback?
If the gap between the two is large and expectations are clearly different, then we need to immediately align sales and marketing before we continue to build an Inbound Marketing program that will be successful for everyone.
Both sides have to agree how far down the funnel the lead is to be nurtured before it's handed over to sales. I know some sales guys who just want to get their hands on any leads as quickly as possible as soon as the lead is registered. And I know some reps who want the lead to be well qualified, and nurtured, before they even touch it.
What usually happens here is that marketing ends up with more responsibility. Basically they've moved their responsibility further down the funnel. And that responsibility now includes lead nurturing, lead quality scoring, and in some cases, ownership of some sales and revenue metrics.
This is the correct way to go for marketing. But here's the problem...
This new Inbound Marketing methodology of ultimately being measured by lead score and actual metrics of new customers, or revenues, scares the hell out of a lot of marketers because they have little or no experience in that area of marketing, and they're afraid that sales are going to ... well ... be on their back all the time.
What are the changes that have to happen?
Marketing is no longer just about creative, design and content - that's mostly top of the funnel stuff. Marketing now has to fully understand all the complexities and subtleties of the lead generation process moving their responsibility down to the bottom of the funnel.
The Inbound Marketing process of attracting, converting, closing and delighting is the best digital marketing methodology out there. It's a very smart combination of using best of breed marketing automation technologies (such as HubSpot and Salesforce.com), intense analytics, continual optimization and relevant content creation. That's a big combination of left-hand and right-hand brain thinking and maybe the marketing talent mix needs some review, or an outside agency has to be brought in.
To do this successfully, marketing has to move out of their comfort zone and relearn, retrain, retool and refocus their efforts - It's all about the funnel.
When we have a clear understanding of who’s impacted by the change, and their perspectives, we can set new goals and objectives, we can manage the gap, and get the Inbound Marketing program up and running with both sales and marketing teams fully aligned, on board, in sync and bought-in to the process. Then we will all be successful.