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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Building the Right Fences Between Marketing and Sales

Good fences make good neighbors
Traditional wisdom stands up because it's proved over time. In the case of this quote, it conveys the significance of setting clear boundaries and knowing how to respect those boundaries.

This is often a challenge for Sales and Marketing teams. Neither wants to give up control over the fruits of their labors but each has expectations of what the other will do when leads or prospects are "passed over the fence" so to speak.

This post is going to talk about the theoretical boundaries and then how to implement real fences. Both pieces are important and many companies get through the first step. Let's start with that, see what it looks like and if you can see why it's not enough.

A couple of specific criteria that Sales and Marketing should define are:
  1. What triggers a lead passing from Sales to Marketing (MQL)
  2. What actions must Sales take with every accepted lead (SAL)
  3. What triggers a stalled lead passing back to Marketing (Lead Nurturing)
  4. Who decides which current Prospects to include in Marketing campaigns
  5. How can Sales remove Leads or Prospects from Marketing campaigns
Once you have those, or other definitions that make sense for your business, you need to build fences. Fences means you remove ambiguity from your database about who owns what and what actions can be taken.

I'm going to use Salesforce.com for my next set of examples because it's what I'm most familiar with.
  • Lead Owner -- The Lead Owner should be assigned to show who will primarily will be interacting with the person.
  • Lead Status -- Each value should be "owned" by one team or the other. There should be clear reasons when a lead status should change, and who is responsible for doing it.
  • Lead Score -- If you are scoring your leads, make sure you can act when a score reaches your defined thresholds. Who takes ownership and what is the next specific Touch that needs to happen to these leads
  • Opportunity Stage -- Marketing doesn't typically contact "Open" opportunities on which the salesperson is actively working. However, for Stalled opportunities that would make good candidates for nurturing, marketing should help retain and re-activate these prospects.
  • Customer by Segment -- Once a customer has purchased, the relationship likely changes again. By setting up some clear marketing tracks around segments you can define and mark in your database, you can help your existing customers learn more about other products, upcoming events, and other opportunities to continue interacting with your company.
So, as a marketer, how do you know if you've got good fences? An easy litmus test is if you have to get your lists approved by Sales, 0r if you send them a list, and they return it with "Include/Exclude these...", then you have not built good enough fences. Giving each team responsibility for keeping their own data clean will make it easier for both sides to work together.

How are your fences? And what can you do to make them better?


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