The Importance of Marketing in Each Stage of the Sales Pipeline

The Company
11 February 2019

Sale and marketing – we all know these two functions of a business are supposed to work together. But the truth is 51% of marketers are not satisfied with the level of communication between them and the sales team. Similarly, 53% of sales professionals are not pleased with the support that they receive from marketing (LeanData).

Naturally, this rivalry between marketing and sales hampers a business from achieving its goals. But, all is not lost, because sales and marketing can work together as a cohesive unit, and when that happens, sales cycles become shorter, market-entry costs go down, and the cost of sales is reduced according to Harvard Business Review.

Here’s a little insight to get your sales and marketing team to collaborate at each stage of the sales pipeline.

Stage: Quality lead generation

When marketing converts to lead generation and sales opportunities, you know that your marketing team has done a great job. But the true value of the work that marketing does extends beyond just generating leads, it is disqualifying as many bad leads as possible.

Through lead magnets, marketers are able to generate sales-qualified leads because they know that visitors who initiate first contact or engagement are more likely to be in a ‘ready-to-buy’ state. This also tells them the products or services offered by the business are aligned with the visitor’s wants, needs, desires, and fears.

Sales-qualified leads improves the efficiency and productivity of your sales force because it prevents them from wasting precious resources and spreading themselves too thin on leads that will never convert and allow efforts to be focused on quality leads that will.

Stage: Lead nurturing

Even with sales-qualified leads, a sale is never guaranteed. Marketers are well-aware of this, and they know that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases compared to non-nurtured leads (The Annuitas Group) – making this a crucial stage of the marketing funnel for connection between sales and marketing.

These two functions can come together to develop a lead scoring strategy which lays out when and how to address each buyer. When developing the lead scoring strategy, there are 3 pillars to examine. They are:

  • Lead fit: This data tells you how close a buyer is to the business’ ideal buyer and guides the decision on whether your sales force should even pursue the leads.
  • Lead interest: Measuring lead interest through time spent on site and social media engagement, for example, tells you how well your brand and its messaging resonates with the prospective buyer.
  • Lead behaviour: Tracking lead behaviour further enhances the quality of leads. Actions such as clicking through product or service pages or blog posts could indicate that the lead is not yet ready to buy, whereas actions such as downloading brochures or registering for a newsletter could indicate the opposite.

Segmentation also allows you to tailor your message, approach, and content form according to the different wants and behaviours of your leads. This in turn conveys more value to your leads and will pave the way for your sales force to set up a request for a meeting.

Stage: Lead proposal

In this stage, the sales function would have contacted the lead and successfully delivered a proposal or a sales quote. But it’s not time for the marketing function to exit the stage just yet, in fact, it is in this stage that marketing plays the most important role.

As the Pareto principle goes: 80% of sales come from 20% of clients, therefore by leveraging the skills of a copywriter in the preparation of a proposal and the negotiation skills of your sales force, you combine a proposal document that overcomes objections, pushes emotional triggers and justifies the sale with a great pitch. This will help your business rise above fierce competition and land the sale.

So, how do you do this? Content marketing. You can craft content tailored to driving your lead to the next stage of your sales pipeline, such as:

  • A versus content that compares your business offer favorably over your direct competitors.
  • A helpful and timely industry report that supports the logic behind purchasing your offer.
  • An insight content that empowers your proposal recipients on why dealing with your business is their best option.

Stage: Lead negotiation

Be it due to a lack of brand awareness or the value of your offer isn’t getting through to your leads, having both marketing and your sales force coming together to collaborate in the lead negotiation stage is more crucial than ever.

This helps address the problem posed by Michael Brenner where 60% of content created in the marketing department was never used, and that 90% of content created was product-specific despite the fact that 90% of audiences were asking non-product specific questions.

When your marketing function creates content with the feedback and input of your sales force, you will be able to provide relevant and timely content that can improve the odds of your sales force closing the lead. The content created by marketing can be in the form of case studies to highlight the capabilities of your business or favourable reviews to establish buyer confidence.

Stage: Lead closing

Congratulations. The lead has been successfully converted into a new customer. But the interaction between sales and marketing isn’t over. A post-mortem and review of the sales funnel will allow knowledge sharing and pave the way for clearer communication. This forms the backbone of future content creation that benefits both the sales team and your audience.

Now that you are ready to start the whole sales pipeline again, what will you do?

The clear answer is a collaboration between your sales and marketing teams to at each stage of the sales pipeline to drive quality lead generation, content creation, and ultimately conversion.

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