How well connected is your marketing activity to your sales performance? Hopefully, the answer is ‘fully connected’! Unfortunately, more often than not, marketing operates in isolation of sales, and therefore doesn’t focus on filling the funnel, let alone helping to stop any leaks!
The first phase in aligning marketing to sales is in the planning – whether that’s strategic business planning over a five year period of the annual sales and marketing plan. Having a clear view of what your most profitable sales are balanced with the potential of future sales based on customer needs and wants, you can create your sales strategy.
With a clear view of what you are going to sell, and to whom, you can start to forecast your funnel. You will have set a target for how many sales of each product and service, and you should know your conversation rates through your sales cycle. By multiplying the number of sales by the conversation rate, then the number of opportunities you are in negotiation by the conversation rate, etc, you can work out how many leads you need at the top of the funnel to meet your sales targets.
But before you announce to marketing that you need 10,000 leads in the year, you need to agree, with marketing, what the definition of a lead is. At what point does sales want to take on a potential opportunity – when the lead is BANT qualified, or before this stage so that sales can shape the opportunity.
Once agreed, and the sales strategy is shared with marketing, marketing can create a programme of activity to support the sales strategy and sales funnel requirements. This activity is most likely to be a combination of outbound lead generation with raising brand awareness to make the lead generation process easier.