How to Generate Leads Online by Aligning your Sales and Marketing

It's much easier to generate leads online when sales and marketing teams work in harmony. Defining a 'qualified lead' together is the first step.

Picture of Matt Duxbury Matt Duxbury

Published: 03 Oct 2014

5 minutes read

How to Generate Leads Online by Aligning your Sales and Marketing

How many companies do you know where the sales and marketing teams work in perfect harmony? Probably very few. You may even be aware of some organisations where there is a historic and very visible disconnect between the two departments.

Despite the challenges facing today's businesses in terms of engaging prospective customers and generating leads online, a lack of alignment between sales and marketing remains a common problem. A 2013 survey by Leopard found that only 35% of sales teams believe they have a 'close' or 'very close' relationship with their internal marketing department. If this sounds like your business - things need to change.

Thankfully, there are already signs that more businesses are beginning to take sales and marketing alignment seriously. The launch of HubSpot's new CRM and sales platform at Inbound 14 in Boston last month should help to accelerate that process. However, if the salespeople and marketers in your company traditionally don't see eye to eye, you need to go back to basics before you implement new technology.

It goes without saying that marketing and sales work towards a common goal: generating more customers for your business. If we break that down by department - the marketing team's job is to generate leads and the role of the sales team is to convert those leads into customers. Making this process as effective as possible is vital to the future success of any business.

How to join up sales and marketing

What's surprising is the lack of attention many companies pay to the area where the relationship overlaps - the handover of leads from marketing to sales.

For this process to work well (and a symbiotic relationship between the two departments to flourish!), marketers need to generate sales leads that people want to sell to. That means finding out how likely a prospect is to buy and relaying any contextual information they have that will aid the salesperson.

A common complaint of salespeople who are frustrated with marketing is that they receive poor-quality leads. They're put in touch with people in the wrong type of organisation, those who are not ready to buy or people who lack the power to make a purchase decision. Occasionally, they get passed the details of a competitor who was just checking out what your firm is doing!

Marketers may respond, not unreasonably, that they lack the knowledge to assess the quality of their leads - how many sales teams accumulate a wealth of day-to-day customer knowledge that never makes it out into the rest of the organisation?

For this reason, defining a qualified lead should be your first step on the path to joined up sales and marketing. It requires both teams to sit down together and establish exactly what sort of information needs to be captured before a salesperson picks up the phone. Company size, location, level of seniority, size of budget, existing software investments - your sales team will have a view on how all of these variables affect the quality of a lead.

That doesn't mean marketing has nothing to contribute. Your team should already have a clear picture of the type of customer you're aiming to attract with your content, encapsulated by your buyer personas. An in-depth discussion about lead quality with the sales team may produce new information that can be used to further refine those personas. Start with the basics - find out who your salespeople want to sell to - and you'll successfully join up sales and marketing.

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