Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Level-Setting Expectations Between Marketing & Inside Sales Departments

Historically Marketing and Inside Sales departments tended to be on different pages. Even worse, they were on the same page, but reading different books. Marketing and Inside Sales should be joined at the hip and have one of the best cross-departmental relationships within any organization. The desire to achieve Web 2.0 status has elevated the importance of this relationship. A great first step, is the process of agreeing on what is considered a contact and what is considered a lead.

My best friend these days is my Marketing department. Marketing used to focus on pumping out as many “leads” as possible to my Inside Sales team. The more “leads” generated from a campaign; the more successful it was viewed. The problem was Marketing’s definition of a lead was drastically different than Inside Sales. The $10,000 question was, “What constitutes as a lead? We collectively sat down and agreed on our own criteria and it has made a world of difference for both teams. It also sets the proper expectations with C-Level folks. Together we are now actively differentiating between a contact and a lead. Contacts are just as important as leads because contacts are the pipeline for leads. If your company is going to put a lead-nurturing process in place you must place equal emphasis on both. Do this and you are one step closer to being a Web 2.0 company.

Take things a step further and start ranking/scoring all contacts. Contacts grow up to be leads. The key is to nurture to the individual contact and where that individual contact is in “their own” buying cycle, not to the masses. When and only when they reach a certain level, do they constitute as a lead. Because there is such a focus on nurturing contacts very early on in the buying process, inside sales and marketing teams have to work closer than ever before. If you make this shift in the way you treat each contact in your database, you are properly adjusting the way you market to Web 2.0 standards. You have also changed the dynamics of the relationship between the two departments. They key is to get both departments on the same page of the same book.

Here are a few Inside Sales trends:

1. Corporate hiring of outside sales reps has leveled off at a .5% annual growth, while hiring of inside sales reps is growing at lively 7.5% annual clip (James Oldroyd)
2. By 2012 nearly 800,000 more companies will host inside sales teams (James Oldroyd)
3. Buyers are finding sellers today, which is a fundamental shift in the sales process.
4. Companies once marketed to the masses, industry verticals or by job title. Now sellers have to personalize content and marketing initiatives based on an individual’s online behavior.
5. Don’t chase everything. Have faith in your marketing drip campaigns and focus on objective criteria (lead ranking) to determine who is ready to buy and who is not. This also dictates when to proactively call prospects.
6. Lead nurturing has placed more of an emphasis on getting contacts in the marketing drip.

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