How to Facilitate the Handoff Between Marketing and Sales

Spoiler alert:  more than 95% of visitors to your website aren't ready to buy your products and services. Of course, some of those site visitors become leads, perhaps by sharing their contact information in exchange for a piece of content they need to make a more informed buying decision. But here's the rub—and it's a big one: more than 80% of those newly generated leads never buy anything from your company.

The Perennial Battle Between Marketing and Sales

Each year, HubSpot asks marketers around the world to name their top marketing challenges. And each year, they put "generating new leads" at the top of their list.

That's understandable. After all, marketers are often judged by the volume of leads they generate, with little attention paid to the quality of those leads. Unfortunately, that laser focus on lead volume can diminish the sales readiness of those leads. Said differently, what constitutes a sales qualified lead (SQL) for marketing all too frequently looks like another wild goose chase to your sales team—which means fewer sales opportunities and less profits for your business.

So, What's a Marketer To Do?

As HubSpot points out, the seemingly intractable battle between marketing and sales didn't end when HubSpot users tried to integrate their HubSpot systems with third-party customer relationship management (CRM) tools (like the one from SalesForce):

"A major pain point for modern organizations, including HubSpot users, has been the handoff of prospects from marketing to sales. To help with the handoff, HubSpot integrates well with many popular customer relationship management (CRM) systems, including SalesForce. Unfortunately, most of these integrations didn't include bi-directional sync (passing information back and forth from both platforms), many integrations limited the data you could pass, and every integration required the use of at least two distinct systems."

HubSpot CRM and Sales Hub: The Cavalry Has Arrived!

All that changed 5 years ago with the introduction of HubSpot's new CRM tool. Unlike its predecessors, this software includes 3 distinct benefits which enable and smoother handover from marketing to sales teams:

  1. It's a lot easier to use: sales and marketing teams now work from a shared database. You no longer need to worry about passing information from one platform to another. In other words, HubSpot's CRM ensures that all your data is synced, and that both sales and marketing people can access that information easily and instantly.
  2. It empowers your sales team: simply stated, effectively leveraging the new HubSpot CRM, salespeople are no longer in the dark, wondering why this or that lead has been handed over. They can instantly see every interaction a lead has had with your business, everything from phone calls to emails to downloaded content. Armed with these robust data, salespeople can more easily devise meaningful sales approaches and close more sales
  3. It makes your sales team more productive: the less your salespeople need to worry about the sales readiness of the leads they get from marketing, the more they can focus on the quality of sales communications with those leads. This means, among other things, that those communications will be more personalized—and that can be a game changer. For example, more than 80% of consumers say they're more likely to buy from companies that personalize the sales process.

Making it Work for Your Business

No marketing tool, no matter how powerful its potential, is better than the uses to which it's put. As powerful as HubSpot's CRM tool is, in other words, you still need to adapt it to your unique company needs. In particular, you need to ensure that marketing and sales are talking the same language, that each side fully understands the vocabulary of the other.  

More than anything else, that means forging an understanding between marketing and sales of what constitutes a sales qualified lead (SQL). One of the best ways to do that is using the so-called "fit and interest" test.

What's a Good Sales "Fit?"

"Fit" is a measure of how well your company's products and services meet the needs of each lead. For example, a real estate business that sells luxury homes can't really help most first-time home buyers who don't make enough to buy one of those homes. 

What's Sales "Interest?"

Whereas "fit" measures how well what you offer and what leads want are aligned, "interest" measures how much of a priority your products are for each lead. For example, a lead might have the resources to buy a high-end new home, but have little interest in buying one at this time. 

There are multiple reasons someone with little to no interest might wind up in your pile of new leads. Perhaps someone downloading content about this or that luxury home is merely "window shopping," or maybe they're trying to find out if the luxury home they just purchased is a good value. In these cases, the lead is a good fit for our mythical real estate business—but their lack of sales "interest" makes them less sales ready than other, more interested leads.

Perfecting the Handoff:  Developing Common Understandings

The specific words your business uses to describe the sales readiness of leads is less important than the fact that your sales and marketing teams have a common understanding of what those words mean. You can simplify that negotiation by taking the following 2 actions:

1.  Develop a Common Vocabulary

Whether your business opts to define sales readiness using the "fit/interest" approach, or by developing some other lead scoring methodology, it's critically important to your success that your sales and marketing teams share a common vocabulary to describe where leads are in the buyer's journey.

For example, you might call leads with the highest levels of fit and interest as "red hot," or "sales opportunity." You could call leads who are a strong fit but have minimal interest as "sleeping," or "check back in 6 months." As long as your lead categories are grounded in solid data and both sides understand the words you use to mean the same thing, you'll create a solid alignment between marketing and sales, and facilitate a smoother handoff of leads.

2.  Define Lead Jurisdictions

That may sound a bit off-putting—but all it really means is making it clear to both marketing and sales who's responsible for what. The easiest way to do that is by getting input from both marketing and sales in what constitutes a sales qualified lead, what every word you use to describe leads means, and by testing your new system out before you go "live."

Final Thoughts

Using tools like HubSpot's CRM and creating workflows in HubSpot will make the handoff from marketing to sales smoother and more efficient and create more sales opportunities for your business. But the process can also be both complex and confusing. That's where we can help.

To learn more about the ways our inbound marketing services can grow your audience, close more sales, delight your customers—and take your business to the next level—schedule a free growth consultation with The Gist, or contact us today.

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