All too often, we think of marketing and sales as separate entities within an organization. As marketers, we just have to generate the leads and hand them over to the sales team. And that’s it, right? Well actually, no. In fact, as marketers, it’s our job to make sure that we’re not only generating leads for the sales team, but that we’re also generating high quality leads that our sales team can close as customers at as high a rate as possible.
We’ve discussed the concept of “smarketing” in the past -- aligning sales and marketing to make both teams stronger and more effective. And while there are a number of ways to do this, a good place to start is simply having a conversation with your sales reps. You’d be amazed how much insight you can glean about your marketing, your leads, and all the pieces of your strategy from any given member of your sales team.
So go ahead, grab one of your sales reps for a half hour-long chat, and take some detailed notes about their answers to the following seven questions.
7 Questions to Ask a Sales Rep Right Now
1) What does your sales process look like?
Okay, this one may seem a little rudimentary if you already know the basics of how your sales team operates. But first of all, a little review never hurts, and second, you may be missing important pieces of the sales process that you hadn’t realized.
For example, do you know how your sales reps begin a conversation? Do you know how -- and how quickly -- they work in information about your product or service? How much time do they spend on the phone with a lead? How long does it take the sales rep on average to get your product in front of the decision maker at the lead’s company? It’s critical to develop a strong understanding of exactly how your sales team works your leads. That knowledge should be used as the foundation of your strategy, and it will prove immensely valuable for increasing your marketing effectiveness, since you'll have a better understanding of how you can create marketing campaigns that complement -- not counteract -- the sales process.
2) What qualities make a lead good or bad?
Now, you may already have a lead scoring system in place (and if you don't, you might want to consider it), and that’s a great tool for qualifying leads, but it’s still important to get detailed feedback from your sales reps about what they think makes for a particularly strong or weak lead. Your reps may also have different opinions about what qualities are most indicative of a lead that will most likely close or a lead that most likely won’t, based on their various experiences and techniques. Find out what factors they look for when they’re deciding which of their leads to call, and figure out how you can generate more of those kinds of leads for them.
3) Are there specific marketing offers that signify a particularly strong or weak lead?
This one goes along with number two, but it will give you a narrower focus on the actual content you’re using to generate leads. Let’s say you’re creating ebooks and hosting webinars as part of your lead generation strategy. Are leads more likely to convert into customers if they downloaded an ebook or attended a webinar? What about if the ebook was intended to teach readers about your specific product versus a facet of the broader industry?
You should already be tracking this data so you can analyze your marketing offers to know which ones convert at what rates, but you may also find that your sales reps can provide additional insight into which offer topics and formats work best. Ask them which types of conversion events they like to see when they decide which leads to call. Are there any offers that make it particularly difficult or awkward for them to start a conversation? Use this feedback to make your offers stronger so you can generate the kinds of quality leads that your sales team likes to work.
4) Do leads typically have the right expectations about what they’re getting?
Messaging is a core part of marketing. You need to make sure you’re setting expectations correctly. Check with your sales reps to see if the leads they’re calling actually know why the rep is getting in touch with them in the first place. Are they aware that they’ve requested a demo of your product? Maybe your calls-to-action are unclear. Maybe your landing page copy needs rewriting, or your email subject lines are misleading. If you’re sending your sales team leads that didn’t intend to sign up for a free trial, and a rep calls them, saying, “I see you’ve requested a free trial,” not only is that embarrassing, but you’re also wasting your rep’s valuable time.
5) What is the number one thing leads like and dislike most about our offers?
Are your reps conducting demos of your product? Providing free trials? Maybe assessments of some sort? Find out how these offers are performing from the rep’s perspective, and ask your reps to shed some light on how helpful these offers are from their leads’ perspectives, too. What do people enjoy most about the demo or assessment? How valuable are they finding your ebooks, webinars, or other downloadable content? What are a few pieces of criticism the rep has received? Understanding what your leads do and don't like about your marketing offers will help you improve both their format and delivery, as well as your ability to effectively position these on the marketing side.
6) What are the top reasons a lead doesn’t close?
This is a big one. As marketers, our job is to not only generate new leads for sales, but to also nurture leads who are not yet qualified, which include ones that reps have attempted to work but were not yet ready to buy. Instead of just throwing all of these not-yet-ready leads into one bucket, ask your reps about the most common reasons why those leads were not ready to buy. Let’s say the top 3 reasons are budget, timing, and not seeing the value of your product. That’s extremely valuable information to you as a marketer, because now you can segment those leads accordingly and target your nurturing campaigns to address their specific pain points. The more effectively you can nurture these leads, the more effectively you can get them to be sales ready and hand them back to your reps to close.
7) Are there any ways marketing can help or do better?
It’s good to get a general idea of how your sales team feels your marketing team is performing, but chances are, they’ll have some specific points of feedback that could be really useful to both you and them. Don’t forget -- they have insights into the qualities, needs, challenges, and behaviors of your leads and their sales cycles that you most likely don’t. Maybe there’s an opportunity to hand a certain type of unqualified leads back over to Marketing to nurture. Maybe a new type of lead-gen offer, a different positioning of your product, or a new angle for your follow-up messaging might be more effective in getting your leads to be sales ready. Let your sales reps share their ideas, and see which ones make sense to implement.
It’s easy to get caught up in your own strategy. And while you should absolutely be conducting your own analyses to figure out what works and what doesn’t, your sales reps are the ones who are actually talking to your leads, and taking it from where you leave off. A short conversation can go a long way. So go grab a rep, grab some coffee, and make your marketing -- and your smarketing -- way more effective.
What other questions do you ask your sales team to help improve your marketing strategy?