Why Sales and Marketing Processes and Terminology Matter

A short and simple question on Quora captures the essence of why it’s so hard to automate sales and marketing processes:

How can the relationship between leads, accounts, contacts and opportunities be simplified in a CRM/Sales application?

My initial answer is on Quora and is worth reading. Here in the blog, however, I’m going to expand on why sales and marketing processes and terminology matter.

Sales and Marketing is a Team Sport

marketing processes and sales teamwork

Sales and marketing benefits from teamwork

This may seem obvious, but we all know there are mavericks in both marketing and sales. How many marketing campaigns were launched to prospects before sales was trained or even saw the materials?  How many rainmakers (or floundering reps who think they are rainmakers) don’t log their calls in the CRM or keep their forecasts accurate? I’m not saying there shouldn’t be room for individuality, experiments or process refinements. What I am saying is that outcomes are more predictable and jobs go more smoothly if there is agreement and coordination between marketing and sales teams.

Just like in football, business teams need game plans, play books and trust in one another. Sales and marketing teams are no exception. But unlike football, business game plans, play books and even terminology are sufficiently different across companies to cause problems.

Common Terms Have Different Meanings

What is a “lead?: An “opportunity?” Ask people in different roles and you’ll likely get different answers. And to make matters worse, throw in the automation vendor’s proprietary terms and confusion multiplies. Here’s what I mean:

Term Generic Marketing Generic Sales Salesforce.com
Lead Any contactable person A person or database record with the following:

  • Name, title, phone number and email
  • Confirmed interested in our products
  • Has budget, authority, clear need and a decision timeline.
Leads are prospects or potential opportunities stored in the “Lead” object.
Opportunity Any person who has shown interest in buying our products. A sales transaction that ready to be forecasted and shared with management. Opportunities are the sales and pending deals that you want to track in the “Opportunities” object.

Agreement is better than diversity when it comes to terminology. Even so, I’ve never worked with an organization that would have achieved success using any of the above definitions. The marketing definitions are often too broad. the sales definitions are too precise. And the software definition is focused on how many rows are in a particular table.

Yes the definitions I’ve shared are cliches, but they confirm the key point. Consistency across sales and marketing processes and terminology is crucial. It ensures that marketing draws the right people to your web site and passes the right people on to sales. It ensures that a marketing lead is worthy of sales follow-up. It ensures that a opportunity is qualified before receiving precious corporate resources. It allows management to examine and approve putting resources on opportunities that are outside the sweet spot. And most importantly, it enables accurate reporting on revenue and identification of impending problems.

Measurement Requires Precision … and Consistency

precision improves marketing processes

Precise reports are usable reports.

We rely on automation software to produce reports. For the reports to be useful, however, sales and marketing need to agree on definitions and follow processes based on those definitions. For example, a person who enters the lead database as part of an acquired list is valuable, but isn’t a “sales-ready lead” at the moment of import. Many companies forecast how many “sales-ready leads” are needed to fill the pipeline in a period. If there isn’t agreement on the definition of “sales-ready lead,” marketing, sales and executives will have trouble planning.

Complicated? You bet! But as I mentioned in my Quora response, it’s complicated because it’s valuable, important and core to your business success.

In this case you can’t eliminate the complexity, but you can make it approachable and understandable to all constituents. Here are some things you can do to help your team embrace the corporate process and terminology:

  • Publish a glossary/cheat sheet of terms
  • Create a process flow diagram
  • Present, rather than distribute, reports until you have both buy-in and understanding of the sales and marketing processes and terminology 
  • Meet regularly with stakeholders and share the detail every time

Now it’s your turn. Reflect on the sales and marketing processes and terminology in your organization. Is it complicated? Is it broadly understood? Do you have any thoughts on how to improve acceptance? Please share below.

The Full List: 23 Varieties of Successful Web Conversion Offers

Your website should deliver your highest value and lowest cost business leads. People who find your site are interested in your business. People who stay on your site are engaged and developing trust. People who fill out a form on your site, sharing their contact information in exchange for something of value, are gold.

Web Conversion Offers

To mine gold, your web site needs to offer two things:

  • One or more registration forms
  • Relevant content that visitors want

Below is the full list of 23 successful web conversion offers, sorted by category:

Information Downloads

  1. White papers
  2. Tip sheets
  3. Software
  4. Apps

Registrations

  1. Webinar sign-up
  2. Cloud account on your site
  3. Trial request

Activities

  1. ROI calculator
  2. Webinar attendance
  3. Meet-up attendance
  4. Hack-a-thons
  5. Software usage

Subscriptions

  1. Newsletter signup
  2. Mailing list signup
  3. Blog or podcast RSS subscription
  4. Social media “like,” “follow” or “channel subscription”

Access

  1. Contact us
  2. Request a demo
  3. Meeting request
  4. Free consultation
  5. Contest entry
  6. Claim a discount
  7. Inbound call to sales

Picking offers for your business is a very important decision and should flow naturally from your marketing strategy. One size doesn’t fit all. A free trial may make sense for a software developer but not for a business decision-maker. Make sure you have content for all potential buyers.

Keep one more thing in mind: conversions happen in the buyer’s mind and only gets measured on your web site. To earn a conversion, you first need to prove that your business is trustworthy, honest and helpful.

What’s Not on the Web Conversion Offers List

The following types of helpful web content are not listed as conversion offers because it should just be freely available. Somethings, even some valuable things, you just need to share freely. Make the following content freely available to inform, engage and build customer trust:

  1. Product specs and data sheets
  2. Announcements and press releases
  3. Customer success stories
  4. Endorsements
  5. Infographics
  6. Sizzle videos

Are you using other types web conversion offers to generate leads? Share below!