sales-and-marketingAs a marketer, you work hard to execute your content marketing plan. You diligently monitor your business website, write your company blogs and post to your social media company pages. You measure website visits, conversion rates, leads generated by channel, engagement on social media platforms, blog post shares, email click-through rates…the list goes on and on. But when the time comes to present the impact of your marketing efforts to your boss, you struggle to justify the money you spend on marketing.

While many bosses understand that, in theory, a solid inbound marketing plan can have a direct impact on the company’s bottom line, 73% of executives don’t believe that marketers are focused enough on results. What’s even more troubling is that 69% of these bosses feel that their marketing campaigns and strategies do make an impact on the company’s business, even though they cannot precisely quantify or prove it.

The Disconnect Between Marketing and the CEO

Marketing Directors often fail to connect their marketing budget to the revenue it generates. They point to meaningless metrics, like brand exposure, Facebook Likes, or impressions as measures of success. But sales managers and CEO’s want leads, sales opportunities, and ultimately, revenue. Therefore, bosses tend to focus on the line item expense, rather than the bottom line benefit of marketing.

If most executives think marketing programs lack credibility, it just doesn’t make sense to talk about metrics that do not indicate bottom line impact. Sure, the implication is valid – that an increase in website visitors, for example, will correlate to more contacts and customers. You have reams of data, but lack the tools to specifically report on that correlation. (To help out, you can download some useful marketing calculations in our free cheat sheet, “The 6 Marketing Metrics your Boss Actually Cares About.”)

Aligning Marketing and Sales

It’s not uncommon for sales teams to criticize marketing for not generating enough qualified leads, and for marketing to blame sales people for not closing. Creating a solid, lasting partnership between sales and marketing is necessary in order to demonstrate the value that marketing contributes to the company’s bottom line. This requires a strategic approach that treats the two departments as a single, revenue-generating organization.

The key to an integrated approach to sales and marketing is implementing a framework of data-driven tools and practices that help the sales and marketing teams work better together. Once you’ve identified hard numbers and qualities that define the stages of your customers’ buying cycle and outlined each team’s expectations, there less room for sales and marketing to argue about each other’s performance. The results are plain for everyone to see.

The Right Tools

Data is the crucial ingredient for maintaining sales and marketing alignment. You need data to monitor progress toward goals, analyze lead quality, and measure marketing ROI. So the first step in creating an integrated approach to sales and marketing is establishing a closed-loop reporting system that tracks key marketing and sales metrics.

There are two pieces of this system

  1. Marketing software that helps you with lead generation and management.
  2. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that helps you track and measure sales activities.

These two systems must be integrated to share data on every lead from creation to opportunity stage to close, so you can build reports that show the close rate and new customers from the leads generated by marketing. Many marketing software platforms automatically integrate with popular CRM systems. For example, HubSpot’s marketing platform integrates with Salesforce. com, SugarCRM, Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, Sage and several others.

Next, begin sharing information between the two platforms that will help the sales and marketing teams improve their performance.

What Should Marketing Share with Sales

Complete Lead Intelligence, including the history of each lead’s activity on your website: campaign engagement, download history, and social media presence. Appending these details to each lead record helps sales reps plan their follow-up strategies and find hooks to start that first conversation.

Lead Alerts, such as an email message or other notification when a particularly hot lead revisits your website, responds to an important campaign, or takes another trigger action, such as requesting to speak with a salesperson.

What Should Sales Share with Marketing

Contact Touches, including records of emails, call attempts and connects.

Lead Status Updates, such as open, in progress, qualified and unqualified. 

Revenue Numbers, including data on closed deals and the revenue associated with each contract, to calculate marketing effectiveness and ROI.

Using closed-loop data, you can track how each customer progressed through your marketing funnel and see which marketing actions delivered the best results.