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Bridging The Sales and Marketing Divide

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Marketo is one of the sponsors of salesforce.com’s global User and Developer Conference, Dreamforce 2007. One of the first sessions was titled "Bridging the Sales and Marketing Divide", and not surprisingly, the focus was how to break down the barriers between Sales and Marketing by automating the lead development / lead nurturing process.

Case studies were presented by:

  • Stuart Robertson, Sr. Director, Marketing, ShareBuilder Corporation – 401K
  • Jim Mackay, CMO, iTKO
  • Scott King, Director, Business Development & Marketing, iTKO

Here’s a summary of key takeaways from the session.

Why Can’t Sales and Marketing Get Along?

Sales and Marketing are on the same side, but they have very different views about how to get things done – just like Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama are both Democrats but have quite different views about things. Sales tends to be action-oriented, focused on day to day relationships and the short term; Marketing tends to be more cerebral, creative and long-term oriented. The two functions have different training, metrics, and compensation programs, leading to deep cultural divides.

As a result, despite the fact that they pursue common objectives (growth and revenue), Sales-Marketing alignment remains hard to achieve. The resulting chasm between Marketing and Sales can be seen as a "black hole" into which leads can fall.

For more, see my recent post 7 Strategies To Building Sales-Marketing Alignment.

Use Lead Nurturing and Lead Scoring to Build Bridges

One way to bridge the gap between Sales and Marketing is to use lead nurturing (Jim called it a "lead hardening" process). This, combined with agreed-upon rules for when a lead is "qualified" and a good system for scoring leads, can help improve sales-marketing alignment.

For example, if a prospect registers on ShareBuilder’s site, they kick off an automated lead nurturing campaign to help educate the prospect about their retirement programs. They then track how the prospect interacts with their emails and website to implicitly figure out where the prospect is in their buying cycle, and score the prospects accordingly.

Similarly, rather than having their business development reps (BDRs) call all marketing leads, iTKO scores leads and creates call down lists that focus their BDR’s time on the top 300 leads.

Bonus tip: Measure Marketing effectiveness based on their impact on the end of the pipeline, using metrics like "marketing-driven revenue" and "cost per closed deal". This helps keep incentives aligned.

What’s The Payoff?

According to ShareBuilder, implementing a lead nurturing / lead scoring process pays off in three key ways:

  • More engaged prospects. By sending prospects the right info at the right time, they actually improve their prospect relationships.
  • More sales faster. By developing leads before passing them to the sales team (essentially, by pre-selling leads), ShareBuilder increased their lead to close rate to 65% in the first 30 days vs. 51% prior. Also, they’ve "revived" many leads that were previously thought dead: 12% of new "sales" leads are now >1 year old, vs. only 3% before.
  • Less costs. By automating their lead nurturing, ShareBuilder is able to manage their complex demand generation program with only two full-time marketing resources.

Stay tuned for more highlights from the Dreamforce 2007 conference!

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About Jon Miller
Jon has over 11 years of experience helping marketers with innovative technology solutions. He is current VP Marketing and co-founder of Marketo, a provider of easy to use on-demand marketing automation solutions that help B2B marketers drive and track revenue. Before co-founding Marketo, Jon was a vice president at Epiphany, where since 1999 he led overall product strategy and direction for Epiphany's industry leading marketing automation applications. He has also worked as a CRM strategist at Exchange Partners and as a strategic consultant for Gemini Consulting. Jon graduated Magna Cum Laude in Physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. WebProNews Writer
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