2This is the second post in a three-part series focusing on the use of technology to create sales and marketing alignment.

In the first blog post of this series, we discussed and defined the development of a Customer Focused Strategy as one of key steps in creating Marketing and Sales alignment. With this strategy in place, the Marketing and Sales teams have defined who the customer is, what their buyer behaviors are and the goals you are trying to reach. Now it’s time to look at technology.

There are six recommended steps to creating technology strategy that is focused on fostering Marketing and Sales Alignment, in this blog post, we will discuss the first three steps:

#1 Create Technology Integration

Integrating several key systems will help to align your Sales and Marketing teams. Having each of these systems in place within your organization as well as connecting them will allow for the passing of lead/customer data from one system to another or from one department to another.

Having strong digital assets (website, social media, blog, etc.), a marketing automation system and a CRM system each have a place and function within the lead and customer acquisition and retention process.

Digital Assets Marketing Automation CRM

#2 Develop A Lead Nurturing Plan

Any good lead nurturing plan starts first with a definition of who you want to include in your marketing lists and campaigns. With an integrated platform, those lists could come from your CRM system or from your Marketing Automation System.

Strategically slicing and dicing your data will be important in developing campaigns that are relevant and targeted to your leads and customers. Once your customer segments or lists are defined, you then need to decide what campaigns you will run and what content you will share?

Again, remember those buyer personas and customer journey mapping we discussed? Having those in place a head of time will help greatly in knowing what content to share and with whom.

#3 Execute A Lead Nurturing Plan

According to Forester Research, companies that excel at Lead Nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost.

So to say that embarking on a lead nurturing strategy is important would be an understatement but how does using this functionality get us closer to Marketing and Sales alignment?

To understand this deeper and get us closer to that answer, let’s share another statistic by Act-On stating that “61% of B2B Marketers are sending all leads directly to sales and only 27% of those are actually qualified or ready to talk to sales.”

Do you see the major issues associated with this? How likely is it, that after time, your sales team will begin ignoring those leads because the majority are not producing sales for them? Also, how likely is it that your marketing team will hear “the leads we get from marketing are junk!”

Lead Nurturing can be used in multiple ways but we will focus on three main strategies.

1. The first is nurturing leads before they are handed over to the sales team for follow up.

If someone downloads a white paper on your website does this automatically mean that the lead should be passed to sales for follow up or better yet, does this mean the customer is ready to engage with a member of your sales team?

Probably not. What if they downloaded a white paper, visited your product and pricing page, attended a webinar and engaged with an email regarding purchasing your product? It now sounds like this lead may be a little further into the buying journey than the first scenario and that lead may be ready to talk to a member of your sales team.

2. The second strategy for nurturing leads, and again showing how Marketing and Sales can work with one another, is the development of a lead nurturing strategy for non-sales ready leads.

Let’s say a member of the sales team does make contact with a lead and finds out that they are not ready to purchase for another six months. The Sales team could put this customer back into a nurturing campaign developed by the Marketing team and reengage in another six months. One major mistake that companies make is not marketing to their non-sales-ready leads.

The customer has shown an interest but they are just not ready to purchase so instead of leaving that communication “cold” for six months how about including them in a nurture campaign. If you have your Marketing Automation and CRM system connected you can enable your sales team to assign a lead or contact into a nurturing campaign directly from CRM.

3. The third strategy is nurturing customers who have purchased and who you want to reengage.

While most of the conversation thus far has focused on leads, there is much opportunity to gain additional business or incremental sales with your existing customers.

If you are selling widgets, the lead nurturing campaign may focus on accessories for the widget or a replacement product once the product is nearing its predicted life expectancy. Again, a connected system that provides data and informs marketing on what the customer purchased will be vital in the deployment of this type of lead nurturing activity.

Stay tuned for our next blog post that will outline the final three steps in the development of a Technology Focused Strategy to reach Marketing and Sales Alignment  and register to attend our monthly marketing webinar series.

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