Troubleshooting: The Marketing-Sales Hand-Off

The hand-off between marketing and sales is absolutely vital to getting strong ROI on marketing. In fact, it’s so important that we spend a ton of time with our clients’ sales teams to make sure the hand-off is as smooth as a gold medal-winning Olympics team.

This article will lay out some of the common issues we see around marketing and sales—and how to fix them.

Get your runners aligned

You do not want to drop the baton in the process of moving a client from marketing to sales. What does that look like?

In practice, this means:

  • The messages your prospective clients get from sales and marketing are unified
  • The promises marketing makes are being kept by sales (and everyone else)
  • Customers are moved seamlessly from marketing channels to sales to being a client
  • We’re all selling the same product
  • We’re all on the same team

Achieving this alignment between sales and marketing is easier said than done. It requires that both the people and the systems are aligned. It means your CRM or other sales tools play nicely with the marketing tools. It means your sales and marketing teams are talking to each other enough to know what’s working best on each side of the process.

What’s more, they’re working together to find ways to build on that knowledge and improve on those processes. Critically, they are not competing with each other.

How do we make that happen?

In my experience, there are two key sides to aligning sales and marketing: the operational side and the human side. Let’s take them one by one.

The operational side

Here are some common symptoms that your operational side needs strengthening:

  • Sales and marketing don’t know what the other team is doing
  • No one understands the full customer journey from first contact to closing
  • You don’t have a budget or an operational plan for the marketing/sales process
  • Non-sales staff are driving a significant portion of sales

Sometimes, issues on the operational side just need some adjustment. For example, if your marketing funnels aren’t integrating seamlessly into your sales pipeline, you likely have a technology or process issue. In this case, salespeople don’t have much background about leads or marketers have no idea what happened to the leads they brought in.

You can implement countless tools and processes to fix these issues so that everyone can follow and optimize the customer’s journey. Simply tracking this journey can often provide enough information to resolve almost every other problem.

On the other hand, you might need to strengthen individual areas in order to strengthen the whole. For example, if the majority of your sales are being driven by non-sales staff, you could have an issue with the marketing pipeline, your sales processes, or staff knowledge and incentives.

This happens a lot with clients who come to our firm—and it is fixable.

We’ve worked with a number of clients where upwards of 67% (or even 90%) of sales are being brought in by a founder or one or two non-sales executives. This is a wonderful thing in many respects: It speaks to the knowledge, passion, and reputation of these individuals.

However, it also pulls time and energy away from their executive “day job” and prevents them from transitioning from race closer to coach.

After all, we each only have 24 hours in the day. If we want to grow, we have to be able to scale and rely on marketing and sales to bring in and close leads.

The human side

In order for this relay race to work, we all have to play on the same team and work towards the same goal. We need to know that marketing and sales are working toward the same goals with each other and not against each other.

We ask questions like: Are we going after the same customers in the same way? Are we telling them the same things? Are we treating them the same way? A customer shouldn’t feel the hand-off between marketing and sales, even if they’re dealing with two or more different teams — working with your company should feel unified and predictable.

Sometimes, a founder can offer more of this unity than a salesperson can simply by virtue of being a founder.

That’s when we look for ways to make it easier for employee teams to succeed. Improvements can be made on every point of the process, from the prospect’s first encounter with marketing to ongoing client service and support.

As you might imagine, the human side of aligning these joints can require a degree of process improvement, but it could also be a matter of communication and mutual support between teams.

Building regular and collaborative communication between teams is a process in itself, and it can help founders or non-sales executives to transition out of driving revenue growth and into helping their teams create it themselves.

Diagnose the issue and make the adjustments that work for you

This race is unique to you, so there isn’t a specific blueprint for how to make everything work that will apply to every situation.

Instead, we try to come up with hypotheses, tests, and measurable results. Sometimes the possible solutions are obvious, and sometimes it takes a little patience and digging. It almost always takes a bit of discomfort and adjustments to behavior (or, to painfully drag out this analogy, to your running stride and timing).

This effort is worth it. It will help you get so much more out of your marketing investment, your sales team, and your business.

So, if you’re not getting the results you want in sales and marketing, look at the hand-off. Improve your technique, find the adjustments that work for you, and then go back to the track.

Want to run a cleaner race?

It’s all about ROI for our clients — and for us. We work closely with each client to diagnose misalignments in sales and marketing to help them make the most of our campaigns and their investment in marketing.

Get in touch to learn more.

August 24, 2021

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