It’s no secret, sales and marketing teams don’t always work well together. In fact, research shows that 53% of sales professionals are unhappy with the support they get from marketing (source). This disconnect between departments often happens when alignment between the two teams is less than stellar.

Sales and marketing alignment not only improves the relationship between departments, but it also boosts sales productivity and overall results. Consider these statistics (source):

  • Only 8% of companies have strong alignment between sales and marketing.
  • Aligning sales and marketing leads to 38% higher sales win rates.
  • Companies with strong alignment achieve 24% faster three-year revenue growth.

If you work in marketing and want to help your sales counterparts increase their productivity, keep reading! Today’s blog post breaks down six things marketers can do to increase sales productivity.

Is your B2B marketing team wondering how to make a sales team more productive? Do these four things!

1.  Take a collaborative approach to buyer personas.

Buyer personas are semi-fictional profiles of your ideal buyers constructed using research, observation and thorough analysis of customer data. The benefits of using buyer personas are well-documented (source):

  • 36% of companies have created shorter sales cycles using personas.
  • 93% of companies who exceed lead and revenue goals use personas.

Marketers use buyer personas to make sure their marketing campaigns reach the right audience, strike the right tone, and effectively convert prospects into paying customers. Though typically a marketing responsibility, buyer personas can also help sales reps to become more efficient prospectors. For this reason, it’s critical that sales and marketing departments agree on a shared set of buyer personas.

It’s not enough to simply create your buyer personas and send them to your sales reps. Instead, buyer persona creation should be a collaborative process. Not only will this get more sales reps on board, but it will also lead to more accurate, comprehensive personas. Here are a few quick steps to create and share buyer personas with your sales team.

Interview your sales team. Sales reps interact with customers all day. Therefore, they have valuable knowledge about customers’ interests and motivations – information you can’t find anywhere else.

Add your own analysis. Combine your sales insights with your own research. Using your B2B contact database draw important conclusions about what makes a person or company a good buyer. Consider factors like company size, buying signals, and even personality traits.

Distribute your buyer personas. Once you’ve created your buyer personas, take the time to review them with your sales team. Explain the value of your personas as part of the sales prospecting process. Include information about using personas to qualify leads and specific methods for researching and uncovering new opportunities with prospects matching your buyer personas.

We’ll move on, but if you want a more in-depth guide to creating personas, check out the following blog posts:

2.  Agree on the definition of Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

Nothing wastes a sales rep’s time– and generates frustration toward a marketing department– like an unqualified lead. Unfortunately, this problem is all too common (source):

  • 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales, but only 27% will be qualified.
  • Sales reps ignore 50% of marketing leads.

The more leads the better, right? Sometimes, but more often than not,  an influx of low quality leads can actually make your sales team less productive.

When sales receive unqualified leads, it doesn’t necessarily mean the marketing department is doing their job poorly. More often it’s a result of poor communication: the sales department has their own definition of a qualified lead, while marketing has another.

For this reason, we recommend that you actually sit down with sales leadership and set a universal definition of a sales qualified lead. This may mean less leads make it to the sales team, but ultimately, lead quality will be higher—resulting in a higher prospect-to-customer conversion rate. A higher conversion rate means more customers and, of course, more customers means more revenue.

3. Develop a better system for lead scoring.

Sharing a definition of a qualified lead is one thing – but putting it into practice is another beast entirely. Enter, lead scoring. Lead scoring is the process of ranking the sales-readiness of a lead using a predetermined methodology.

Assigning precise numerical values takes the subjectivity out of the lead-qualifying process, and ensures that you only send high-quality leads to sales.

Once you’ve come together with the sales department and defined the specific criteria that make up a qualified lead, here’s how to implement scoring:

Give your form fields point values: Not all of your criteria is created equal. For example, you may value a lead’s job title more than their location. Assign numerical scores to each criterion based on their importance. Then combine all points for your final score.

Determine what a sales-ready score is: This might take some analysis and testing, but once enough leads come in, analyze which ones convert to paying customers. Leads that come in higher than your pre-determined threshold will then be considered sales-ready.

Leverage the power of sales and marketing automation tools: There’s no way around it – lead scoring is difficult to handle manually. So, it’s wise to invest in a tool to automate the lead scoring process. Once you enter in your lead scoring criteria, automation software can score leads in real-time, and update their scores as they change.

Lead scoring helps sales by, not only providing better leads, but it also gives your reps a quick way to identify which leads are worth prioritizing and which can wait until later—effectively saving time and increasing productivity.

4. Improve your sales-enablement content.

The modern B2B customer requires helpful content to guide them through the buyer’s journey. But, sales reps often struggle when it comes to delivering relevant content to their prospects. Consider these statistics:

  • 65% of sales reps say they can’t find content to send to prospects (source).
  • 60-70% of B2B content created is never used (source).
  • 32% of a sales rep’s time is spent looking for or creating content (source).

If your sales department has a hard time accessing and making use of your content, it may be time to reconsider your approach. Here’s a few ways to  reshape your content strategy in a way that better supports your sales reps:

Answer common questions: Prospects use content to educate themselves. So, every piece of content you create should provide answers to their questions. With the help of the sales department, develop a list of most common prospect questions and use them to guide your content creation.

Account for every stage of the buyer’s journey. You can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to content creation. Customers in different stages of their buying journey will have different needs and concerns – and you should tailor specific content to each stage. Learn more about the content mapping process here: Content Mapping for Marketing Success.

Create and organize a content library. This may seem like a no-brainer to those who already have a content system in place, but, you’d be surprised by how many companies have a marketing content library that isn’t made public to the sales team. For this reason, we recommend that you organize your content into a library that sales reps can easily access and pull from when they need to send something to a prospect.

Better content and content organization has the ability to save time, increase productivity, and hopefully improve sales performance.

5. Choose the right technology to support your business goals.

Marketers use technology to make their jobs easier – but they often forget to consider how their tools impact their sales team as well. Take a close look at the tools you use, and brainstorm ways you can use technology to help sales become more productive. Consider these examples:

Marketing automation – Despite its title, your marketing automation platforms can be just as useful for your sales team. Marketing automation tools can often be used to automate emails and other sales outreach, monitor selling activity, implement lead scoring processes, and much more.

Employee advocacy program – Plenty of marketers request that other departments share content on their own social media accounts. Invest in an employee advocacy tool that pre-schedules content for your sales reps to share, rather than asking them to do it manually. This will save them time and can ultimately help generate new, sales qualified leads.

Social selling tools – Social media has become an instrumental channel for the modern sales rep. Invest in social media tools that don’t just streamline your marketing efforts, but also help sales reps with their social selling efforts.

For an in-depth look at technology and sales, check out the following blog posts:

The right tools can make or break the success of your sales organization. Be sure to arm your sales counterparts with the technology stack they need to reach their goals.

6. Communicate openly with the sales department.

In sales, kickoff meetings offer a surge of motivation to teams, but communication does not end there. Provide regular updates to the sales department, either through emails or face-to-face meetings—provide campaign reports and analysis, updates on new marketing initiatives, and any new or upcoming content. When you keep the sales department in the loop, they can better understand your campaigns – and can offer feedback and suggestions.

Sure, holding regular meetings between the departments is time-consuming. But, your collaborative effort will result in better marketing campaigns and more high-quality leads, which boosts sales productivity in the long run.

Final Thoughts to Increase Sales Productivity

Successful sales and marketing alignment takes time and effort, especially if the departments have been at odds for years. But, the best way to start is to step back and look at your efforts through the eyes of your sales team. What would make their job easier – and what can you do to help?

It’s important to remember, whether you’re on the marketing or sales team, your goals are the same: more high-quality leads, more sales, and ultimately more growth. If you make an effort to work together, you’ll reach those goals much faster.

For more information about ZoomInfo, contact our sales team today. Our B2B contact lists can exponentially increase the productivity of your sales team and generate new business for your company. What are you waiting for?

About the author

Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is a content marketing director at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact data solution.

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