May 23, 2018
You know that part in Mean Girls, the third act where catty, clique-driven rivalries rupture like the many broken pieces of the plastic Spring Queen crown? Rivals Cady Heron and Regina George learn to create harmony at their school by devoting their energy to promoting their strengths instead of knocking each other down. As a result, a more pleasant High-School experience is enjoyed by all. This is a far-reaching metaphor for the kind of barriers we as digital marketers need to break down with sales teams.
For myself, and likely for many other marketers out there, when we advertise on behalf of our clients, we’re often in contact with someone from their marketing team. They relay the goals, approve strategy and ad content, and provide data, or in many cases anecdotes, on the lead quality coming in from Paid Search or Paid Social, which is relayed to them from their Sales team.
Why not cut out the middle-man?
I’m not advising that we cut ties with our marketing contacts completely in favor of sales, but wouldn’t a few conversations directly with the sales team about what makes an MQL turn into an SQL prove fruitful? Can we all acknowledge that there could be invaluable insights we might uncover? Why aren’t more of us doing this on a regular basis?
Take for example, a recent client experience of mine: I had a client whose in-bound sales department was overrun by leads. These particular kind of leads required significant follow-up from a sales person that required time and man power. They could scarcely keep up. This seems like a good problem to have, right? Wrong, if sales isn’t getting to the leads, then they’re not closing deals from those leads, which can make your paid channels suffer in terms of ROI. However, there was a second kind of lead they sought that was further down the funnel, helped pre-qualify someone interested in their product, and didn’t require the same time input. Naturally, we devised a strategy for conquest of this lead type, albeit more expensive, it worked. By understanding the difficulties the in-bound team was having, then problem-solving for them using PPC tactics, we were able to help them work more efficiently and shorten their sales cycle.
Shortening the sales cycle and improving close rates is the goal of ingratiating yourself with your client’s sales team.
Marketing is responsible for leads, Sales is responsible for closing leads. Strong communication of tactics across departments can not only bring better quality prospects to sales, but can also help strengthen your partnership with your client.
Marketo reports that sales and marketing alignment help companies become 67% better at closing deals. And SiriusDecisions reports that companies with aligned sales and marketing teams achieve up to 19% faster growth and 15% higher profitability.
Help lead your client to this success. To begin, ask your contact who in sales would make the most sense to contact. I have found that the best sales relationships start with Sales Directors or Heads of Sales. Set up a meeting and pick their brains.
Here are a handful of simple tactics that can be employed based on information you might learn from the sales team:
- Help pre-qualify leads by finding out what prospects frequently ask sales reps and respond to these questions in your ad copy and site-links
- Identify key attributes of SQLs: income, demographics, affinities… and adjust your targeting accordingly
- Find out what a lead follow-up looks like from sales. Is it an email? A call? See if there are any missed opportunities and determine if you can help re-capture interest via remarketing
- Find out if there are any trends that lead to higher average order values and create a strategy around this
- Ask questions about sales goals, special promotions, and educate sales about what PPC can do to see if any spontaneous, collaborative ideas emerge.
Collaboration and communication with your client’s sales team can provide a treasure trove of insights. It’s likely that you have PPC solutions in your back pocket that they need, but they’re just not aware yet that you can be a solution. Make yourself and your grab-bag of PPC tactics known to them. They will be grateful and once you have sales as an ally: