sales and marketingBusinesses are increasingly adopting inbound marketing strategies in order to provide a steady supply of qualified sales leads. Inbound marketing attracts traffic to the company’s website by offering relevant and valuable content that people search for on the Web, converting site traffic into leads and finally, converting the leads into sales.

According to recent data from GlobalSpec, manufacturing and other B2B companies are investing in inbound marketing strategies because this approach is most effective at reaching a prospective industrial buyer, at the moment they are researching products, parts or manufacturing vendors online.

In the current business environment, a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy should be the core of your online marketing activities. However, you cannot achieve your goals without aligning the goals and expectations of the marketing and sales teams. It is normal for there to be at least a little rivalry between the sales and marketing teams. On one side of the equation, B2B marketers focus mainly on generating leads before handing them over to the sales team. When the B2B marketers achieve their target, they consider it a success. Often, that is where it ends for them.

On the other hand, the sales team focuses on closing the sale. The sales rep is less concerned about where in the purchasing process the lead came from, and may also blame the marketers for generating low quality leads. The marketer may also blame the sales team for failing to work diligently on the leads. This mistrust, miscommunication and disconnect between the two B2B teams may hinder growth of your business.

Align Sales & Marketing to Drive Revenue

You can create alignment by treating both teams as a single revenue-generating source. Closing the loop around the marketing and sales process, from generating and converting leads, to qualifying and closing new customers can achieve this. Inbound marketing tactics enable the two B2B teams to capture all the information they need to work together. The common mistrust and miscommunication can be eliminated by defining key areas in the sales funnel and developing a clear outline of the expectations of each department.

There are several approaches a business can use to align sales and marketing. These might include:

Define a Lead

All leads are not created equally. Thus ensure that your teams agree on what constitutes a qualified lead. For instance, someone who fills out a form to request a product demo may warrant an immediate callback, whereas, a prospect who downloads a free eBook might be added to a list for further lead nurturing.

Also, identify what does not make a qualified lead. Good inbound marketing automation software allows the marketer to filter out website visitors who do not meet the requirements they’ve set to pass off to sales.

You can define your phases as follows:

  • Prospect: Website visitor looking for information
  • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): Website visitor exploring the products that offer a solution to their problem
  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): Website visitor ready to buy
  • Sales Accepted Lead: A visitor who confirms to the sales team that he/she wants to buy the brand

This simple example can help to determine the owner of the lead at each phase, and direct the lead to the appropriate department for further qualification or nurturing.

Define Lead Criteria

A good closed-loop marketing/sales process should outline at what phase the lead is passed from the marketers to the sales team. It also outlines who is responsible for the lead at each phase. Develop criteria to determine how to treat a lead at each phase, when it should be passed from the marketing to the sales team and who or what metrics, such as a lead score or other lead intelligence, will be used to track it.

Assess Results

You should assess the teams’ performance to determine whether some leads are lost in the process or whether the unqualified leads that were eliminated led to a higher conversion. This will enable you to identify any weaknesses in the lead-generation process.

Use a Marketing Software and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System

Luckily, a variety of web-based software can make the lead generation process much easier. Marketing automation software, such as HubSpot, helps manage and qualify leads while the CRM system, like SalesForce, enables you to track, analyze and measure your sales efforts. The two systems should be integrated to assist you and your teams to establish which marketing channels generate quality leads, thus providing a fully closed-loop marketing and sales process.

Regardless of how your inbound marketing strategy looks, ensure there is ample communication between the participants. When the sales and marketing teams work together, the synergy achieves the firm’s goals rather than hindering the firm from maximizing revenue.