Sales and Marketing alignment means a lot of things to a lot of people. The best way to think about sales and marketing alignment is that all departments who touch a customer throughout their customer lifecycle should be delivering a consistent experience externally and have a seamless hand-off internally.
The teams a customer encounters throughout their lifecycle starts with the marketing team, who interacts before a person has even become a customer. Then, it's your sales team who typically establishes the first human interaction with your prospect and turns them into a customer. After that transition, the customer success organization which consists of anyone onboarding the new customer - servicing support, and account management services - are their point of contact.
Achieving delivery of the same experience, level of service, and language across the various teams who interact with a customer throughout their lifecycle within your company requires some planning across the organization to outline procedures to facilitate the movement of this customer across teams and define common terminology. To set your own organization up for sales and marketing alignment success, you should be sure to do the following:
- Define your company’s ideal buyer profile.
- Identify your ideal qualified Leads in HubSpot.
- Set up your lifecycle stages.
- Define Service Level Agreements.
Let's dive into the four ways you can use your HubSpot Marketing tools to help align your sales and marketing teams.
#1. Define your company’s ideal buyer profile
In order for marketing to attract the right qualified leads to nurture and ultimately pass through to sales who will convert them into customers, you need to define who your ideal qualified lead is. It’s really important because if we don’t define who an ideal company is that we’d like to eventually have as one of our customers, we in marketing run the risk of generating leads that the sales team will not or cannot sell to, or worse, the sales team does sell to those leads. Then, the customer success organization is then left with a poor fit customer who either cancels, is chronically unhappy, or requires an enormous amount of human capital to keep happy.
You can define your ideal buyer profile by clarifying the characteristics of the type(s) of company you can sell to. Here are some questions to consider when defining your ideal buyer profile:
- Are there company sizes that are ideal or not ideal? Do you define size as employees, revenue, customers, or another metric?
- Are there industries/verticals that are ideal or not ideal?
- Are there geographic locations that are ideal or not ideal?
- Are there other attributes of your buyer’s own end customer that make the buyer ideal or not ideal? What types of businesses can you sell to? (i.e. B2B, B2C, ecommerce, government, software, services, subscription businesses, etc.)
Once you answer these questions, you should have your ideal buyer profile. A succinct description of your ideal buyer profile might be “Technology and healthcare companies with less than 10,000 employees located in the United States”. You then want to define the various roles involved in the buying decision at those companies, which are your buyer personas. If you map out your various ideal buyer profiles and the buyer personas at each, you’ll likely end up with a matrix something like this:
#2. Identify your ideal qualified leads in HubSpot
Now that you know you are looking to generate leads in various roles within your ideal buyer profile companies, you need to make sure you can identify when a lead meets that ideal buyer profile within HubSpot. Set yourself up to automatically identify and categorize your ideal qualified leads in HubSpot by doing the following:
First, create custom contact properties for each data point contained within the description of your ideal buyer profile. For example, if your ideal buyer profile is “Technology and healthcare companies with less than 10,000 employees located in the United States”, you’ll need to set up the following custom contact properties:
- Industry: Make this a drop-down select property and 2 of the drop-down choices should be ‘technology’ and ‘healthcare’
- Country: Make this a drop-down select property and rather than writing in each of the answer choices for every country on earth yourself, click “load options” and use one of HubSpot’s suggested option lists.
- Number of Employees: make sure you provide non-overlapping ranges in your drop-down select options that allows someone to conclusively identify themselves as being in your ideal range.
Then, you'll want to add your custom contact properties into forms in order to collect this information when someone completes a form on your website.
#3. Set up your Lifecycle Stages in HubSpot
As you generate leads that match your ideal buyer profile, you’ll notice that not all of them are sales-ready. You’ll need an ongoing process to manage the processing of leads through your sales funnel, often referred to as Lifecycle Stages. In HubSpot, you’ll use the lifecycle stages defined here to move leads through your sales funnel. In order to set up your own lifecycle stages, follow these steps:
- Learn the standard definitions of each lifecycle stage here.
- Define each lifecycle stage for your own company, including: lead, Marketing Qualified Lead, Sales Qualified Lead, Opportunity, Customer
- Build a SMART List in HubSpot for each lifecycle stage by specifying the criteria unique to that lifecycle stage in the HubSpot Smart List tool. Use these instructions to create a list of your contacts and this additional help doc to learn How To Decide On Your List Criteria.
- If you have HubSpot Professional or Enterprise, you can automate the updating of lifecycle stages using the HubSpot Workflows tool in conjunction with the lists you just created and the lifecycle stage contact property.
#4. Define Service Level Agreements
Lastly, once you’re set up to receive new leads and correctly categorize them as fitting into your ideal buyer profile, and you’ve got the systems in place to automatically move each lead through the stages of the sales funnel, you’ll want to be sure that marketing and sales have agreed on some key processes, known as Service Level Agreements, or SLAs. Some typical Sales and Marketing SLAs include:
- SLA Defining the quantity and quality of leads to be passed over each month and of what type. If each of your ideal buyer profiles matches up to one sales team that is responsible for selling into that segment, they’ll likely require a certain # of leads of a specific quality to be passed through each month in order to fuel their sales activities and facilitate the creation of a certain # of opportunities. Define how many leads marketing agrees to pass along to sales each month, what segment or type of lead those passed along will be, and what quality and data sales can expect to receive for each lead.
- SLA Defining the lead handoff process and timing. If marketing agrees to pass along a certain number of leads to sales each month, clarifying the lead handoff process is crucial to ensure that the leads get in the hands of the right sales rep or sales operations specialist and this hand-off happens within a certain timeframe after being identified as a qualified lead.
- SLA Defining the sales follow-up process. If marketing does the hard work of generating leads, nurturing and qualifying them and passing them along to sales, sales then needs to pick up the baton and commit to a certain number of sales follow up attempts within a certain timeframe.
Without the commitment from both the sales and marketing teams to certain standards, it becomes all too easy for stakeholders at different touchpoints in the sales and marketing aligned funnel to attribute low conversion rate to another point in the funnel rather than their own.