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by David Houston David Houston on April 27, 2016

How to Bridge the Sales & Marketing Chasm with Inbound Sales Training

Get out your tools! Time to save all those leads from falling down the chasm.

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If your sales and marketing teams still aren’t working effectively together, it could be because there’s a gaping chasm between them devouring all the qualified leads.

The chasm is real, and most companies have seen it in some form. Inbound leads get brought in by marketing and pushed right up to the edge of this chasm--the point where they need to be handed off to sales. But instead of a smooth transition from one team to the other, the leads get mishandled and dropped into an infinite abyss. Sales just isn't sure what to do with them. In fact, according to research from the B2B Lead Blog and MarketingSherpa, sales reps ignore over 50% of the leads marketing hands them.   

Your organization needs to build a stable bridge to support the hand-off process and prevent leads from falling into the void. When sales and marketing teams are in sync, companies become 67% better at closing deals. Not exactly an expert in bridge architecture? No problem! We’ve got the information you need to draft a blueprint for a more successful sales and marketing process through inbound sales training; in other words, teaching your sales team exactly what to do with the inbound leads they receive. 

Step 1: Stock Your Tool Box

You can’t build a bridge without a hammer, wood planks and nails. Or in our case — the software and platforms needed to harbor, track and manage lead intelligence. A sophisticated CRM, marketing automation, and supplementary tools will do the trick (e.g. melding HubSpot with Salesforce). Proper integration and use of these tools will:

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Enable marketing and sales to see the entire lead life cycle from visitor to customer.

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Support sales prospecting and help sales make warm calls instead of cold calls.

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Provide marketers with the insight necessary to see which campaigns produce the highest quality leads.

WARNING: Like other construction tools, your CRM can’t operate itself. So make sure your sales reps are well trained on how to use this powerful software and dedicated to its practice, as your entire sales and marketing process depends on it.

Step 2: Set the Foundation

Even if you don’t know squat about building, everyone knows a solid foundation is critical to a structure’s integrity. For the purpose of bridging the the gap between sales and marketing, the foundation isn’t a concrete slab--it’s a communication strategy. This strategy is the basis for everything sales and marketing does to close a lead.

Start with a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Your SLA will use language both teams understand to define goals, types of leads, specific responsibilities, and the key performance indicators most important to measuring each team’s performance. Next, create routine checkpoints that bring teams together to talk about lead flow, the percent of leads worked, and close rates. 

Every Week

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Mandate a sales and marketing round-up meeting

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Celebrate big wins

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Share sales and marketing KPI results

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Discuss new product features

Every Month

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Ask sales to give feedback to marketing regarding lead quality

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Ask marketing to sit in on sales calls to gain greater insight on bottom funnel conversations

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Sales and marketing leaders should convene to discuss strategy and more specifically — what’s working and what isn’t

QUICK TIP: To prevent checkpoints from becoming an opportunity for teams to unload mass complaints, all claims should be supported with data. This will help bring gravity to potential issues, and get team members more reliant on the data provided by the CRM system.

Step 3: Hammer Away!

But wait! Before your reps start swinging hammers, make sure they know the proper technique. Sales people desperately need inbound sales training to complete the bridge between the two teams. Inbound sales training will help them:

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Improve targeting

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Create purpose in their sales calls

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Have the right conversation with the right person

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Add value to the conversation by knowing what information the recipient still needs

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Choose the highest quality leads to zero in on

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Do away with the sales slime and sell in a more respectable, humanistic way

Inbound Sales Training

People have written entire books on how to sell the inbound way. In other words — there’s a lot to say on the subject. For the purpose of drafting this blueprint, you need to know two things upfront:

1. Inbound selling isn't a trend. It's the future of sales, and the longer you wait to train your reps, the further you fall behind.

2. There are steps you can follow to get started, many of which will be covered in your construction of a sales and marketing bridge.

Preliminary Inbound Sales Steps Include

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Defining your buyer's journey...

To determine how value can be added to the journey to make working with a sales person a necessary part of the buyer's process.

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Developing a sales process...

This process must support the buyer through his or her journey, and direct sales people on what they should be doing during stages of the buyer’s journey that do not directly include them (i.e. prospecting, gathering lead intelligence, and monitoring progression). 

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Identifying lead readiness...

Including the specific characteristics and ideal prospect possesses, as well as what actions or "trigger events" suggest they are ready for the next stage in their journey.

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Knowing when and how to connect with prospects...

Including how to create a two-way conversation that encourages the buyer define their goals or challenges.

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Building trust...

By exploring more about what challenges a buyer is trying to resolve and counseling the buyer on which solutions best address these challenges. The close comes from knowing how to ask the right questions during this trust building stage and effectively value propositioning.

Inbound sales isn’t just a strategy that improves the selling process. Benefits are felt company-wide! Marketing is able to prove the value of their efforts and improve the quality of the leads they generate.  Sales reps will shorten their sales cycle , increase their close rate and generate revenue. Customer service reps have more information about their customers to better service their accounts. And most importantly, customers receive a positive buyer experience with your brand, which helps to fortify your reputation and inspire repeat or referral business.

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David Houston

Written by David Houston

David’s 30 years of marketing experience bring valuable insight into every aspect of a company’s marketing approach. He naturally sees the bigger picture and has a strategic approach to marketing that is laser-focused on measurably growing his clients’ businesses.

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