Nowadays, marketing and sales often go hand in hand. However, it is often expected that marketing can only deliver leads to sales, and salespersons then contact these leads. This is typically the first step in getting familiar with inbound marketing.
However, more in-depth cooperation between sales and marketing is also possible. Marketing tools can be used to filter the leads even before the sales contact them.
Or alternatively, it is possible to target advertising in different channels, depending on the phase of the customer’s purchasing process. For example, before meetings it is possible to show pre-roll ads on YouTube, where satisfied customers tell about their experiences. Or, after the meeting, when the offer is still unaccepted, you can utilize targeted advertising on Facebook to build trust.
The stages of sales and marketing cooperation
Typically, the marketing and sales cooperation runs through different stages in different organizations. For the sake of clarity, it can be useful to go through these phases before moving on to the tools you can use to support sales.
It is good to remember that no phase is better than another. In some situations, you should forget about marketing completely, and sometimes it should be integrated with sales. It depends on the resources and on the ways in which new customers are attracted most efficiently.
1. The first step: Marketing and sales are completely separate
Most of the companies are still at this stage. Marketing does its own thing and sales do their own thing. Marketing has no profit responsibility, and the salespersons do not appreciate marketing because they do not see the benefits of it. At this point, we typically talk about web page updates, brand updates, communications, newsletters, impressions, and clicks. Occasionally even about lead whom the salespersons do not contact.
2. The second step: Marketing generates leads that sales contact
Companies doing inbound marketing are typically at this stage. This is also the most cost-effective step for many organizations, especially if the organization has just moved from outbound towards inbound.
If there are lots of resources in sales, it is often a good idea to contact customers at a relatively early stage in the purchasing process and not to wait that that they are ready to buy. Contacting even weak inbound-leads is often more cost-efficient than cold calling. However, this is not always true and sometimes it is wiser to stay in the first phase.
3. The third step: Marketing generates and warms leads, after which sales contact them
At this point, marketing automation usually takes a significant role in the process. Potential customers are still tried to convert into leads which are the warmed for example with the help of email marketing. Potential customers are contacted based on the certain triggers set for the sales.
Triggers can be, for example, reading three reference stories, opening three e-mails, or something similar. At this stage, even a relatively small number of salespersons can close significant amounts of sales because there is little time spent on prospecting and cold calling.
On the other hand, the volume is often limited, and therefore the potential growth is not that extensive.
For example: You have 50,000 website visitors per month, of which 2,500 will be turned into leads with the help of guides or other lead magnets. Of these leads, you may be able to warm up to 250 sales leads. You do not need that many salespersons to contact this amount of leads, and in general the numbers are often even smaller. Even successful inbound marketing typically requires up to 3 salespersons to contact the warm leads.
4. The fourth step: Marketing and sales are united
In the fourth stage, the line between marketing and sales is blurred. Leads come in and they are warmed and contacted. There is no actual boundary where the lead would move from marketing to sales or vice versa. Targeted marketing is also done for example after sending a call for tenders, and as a whole, sales and marketing form one process.
Few companies are at this stage, and it is rarely even practical. In the future, marketing will certainly develop towards this direction, especially when it comes to B2B marketing and account-based marketing.
Digital marketing tools to support the sales process
Data on website visitors
The potential customer is visiting certain pages and is getting closer to the purchase decision. At this phase, a salesperson should be informed so that the customer can be called back and the deal can be won.
Use automation at different stages of the sales process. This is typically an important factor in warming up the leads. The use of newsletters is also possible.
Search Engine Optimization
A potential customer is looking for information about your services or similar services. Answer potential customers’ questions and try to occupy Google’s search results with relevant search terms.
Google Ads Advertising
There may not be enough resources to get within the first search results on Google, but you can at least choose the best search terms and ensure that the right people come back to your site.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Display and other remarketing
Plan different remarketing for different target groups. For website visitors, content that provides leads to visitors.
Provide website visitors with content that turns them into leads. For leads, produce content that aims to build trust and that helps to make more sales. After meetings, send reminders that your services suit the customer’s needs and convince them with the help of customer testimonials.
Cooperation between sales and marketing leads to better results in customer acquisition. In all situations, however, maximal integration is not the best solution. Sometimes marketing and sales should be kept partly, or even completely, separate to get the best possible results.
Many self-evident things in marketing could be useful in the sales process if they just were considered. Often, however, the message is lost on the way.