Buyers don’t care how you organize your company.
It’s irrelevant to them that you have a department called “marketing” and a department called “sales.”
All buyers care about is solving problems so they can get on with their work.
And yet, the reality is that most companies have organized themselves into two groups called marketing and sales. No one expects that reality to change anytime soon.
How can companies close the marketing-sales gap so that buyers have a smooth experience?
SiriusDecisions uses its Demand Metrics Waterfall to show B2B organizations how to close the gap between marketing and sales. They’ve recently expanded the Waterfall model, but let’s look at the original model first.
The key to the waterfall is how leads are passed to sales. Leads are only transferred successfully if sales accepts them.
- Service Level Agreement: Marketing and Sales negotiate a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that defines how information about potential buyers (also known as Sales Leads) is passed from Marketing to Sales.
- Marketing Qualified Lead: Marketing does not consider a lead to be qualified until it meets the criteria in the Service Level Agreement negotiated between marketing and sales.
- Sales Accepted Lead: Sales only accepts leads from marketing that meet the criteria in the SLA.
- Sales Qualified Lead: Once sales has accepted a lead, it implicitly agrees to follow up on the lead and qualify it according to the SLA.
The original model had little to say about steps for marketing to produce qualified leads. SiriusDecisions has upgraded their waterfall model with additions that incorporate inbound marketing and tele-prospecting.
The expanded model makes it easier to close the marketing-sales gap in several ways:
- It’s a clearer framework for negotiating a working agreement with Sales.
- It highlights the importance of the tele-prospecting function. It shows that it’s better to have tele-prospecting staff follow up on inquiries and continue to educate and qualify buyers than to ask sales professionals to do that work.
- It shows Sales how the Inbound Marketing function fits into the overall buying/selling sequence.
- It clarifies the stages in the buying sequence. You can more easily measure and make decisions about how to invest resources based on evidence of where bottlenecks and problems are.
Of course, just because you’ve won the business doesn’t mean you’ve found the best customer. The best customers are those who purchase repeatedly. They have a high lifetime value. Maybe we’ll see them in the next iteration of the SiriusDecisions Waterfall Model.