It’s important to view (and conduct) the Sales and Marketing operation as a business process. A process that has a clear plan and has key performance indicators being measured so needed corrections can be identified and implemented. Now, let’s reflect on a term that has become quite commonplace: Sales and Marketing Pipeline.
Making the Connection
The words Sales and Marketing are frequently combined, but is it clear is how they really fit together? I teach a college writing class titled Rhetoric and Composition, and during the first class period I always ask students if they are puzzled to be taking a class called Rhetoric and Composition. Virtually every student sees nothing odd about the combination.
Then I ask why the class is called Rhetoric and Composition, to which I receive blank stares, even from students who are usually eager to respond. I explain that the term rhetoric, which dates back to the origins of Western Civilization, originally had to do with coming up with what to say in a public speech, and composition (for the purposes of a writing class) has to do with using the written word to express yourself. Then the connection becomes clear; how can you express yourself in writing if you have nothing to say?
Sales and Marketing Pipeline
While, like my students, we might be accustomed to seeing and using the terms Sales and Marketing together, we sometimes lose focus on the importance of their relationship. Many are probably familiar with the Sales and Marketing pipeline shown below.
The sales and marketing pipeline demonstrates the idea of capturing the attention of those in the marketplace who might be interested in our product or service, and then trying to move as many as possible to the next stage; from prospects to leads to opportunities to closed sales. Some describe the pipeline as having “leaks,” where consumers or businesses fall out of the pipeline and are not converted to the next stage. A significant part of the Sales & Marketing function is to plug the leaks; improve conversion rates by converting as many prospects as possible into leads and so on.If the Marketing and Sales segments of the pipeline are not aligned and connected properly, then the pipeline leak at their junction will likely be very large.
Using a process approach, the connection between Sales and Marketing pipeline pieces can be improved. Marketing & Sales processes can be planed so they are aligned with the overall business strategy, and with each other. When the Sales & Marketing processes have aligned tactics to achieve a common strategy, then it also becomes easier to share and use information to strive for continual improvement, and make the sales and marketing pipeline connections, within and between Sales and Marketing, stronger over time.
Information flowing from Marketing to Sales about what message attracts interest in a product or service can help Sales emphasize these attributes while proposing solutions. Sales can provide Marketing with information such as what type of lead most often becomes a closed sale. This kind of information can be vital for Marketing to craft and distribute messages effectively.
The importance of the alignment and flow of information is easy to demonstrate. If 10% of sales calls are converted into closed sales, and the goal is to close 20%, where is the problem? Is it in the ability of the sales staff to propose solutions properly? Or are the marketing tactics not providing the kind of leads that can be converted to customers? Without a sales and marketing pipeline that revolves around aligned and cooperative Sales & Marketing processes that include measurement, feedback, and corrective action, answers to these important questions may never be answered. Proper information flow between Sales and Marketing functions can be built into properly planned and aligned processes.
Lead-generation marketing efficiently touches your prospects, creating awareness, establishing credibility and you or your company as a thought-leader. Make your own luck. Strategic marketing helps fill your sales pipeline when it delivers the right message to prospects at the right time. A strategic marketing service can contact thousands of prospects as easily as one. That leaves your valuable sales team free to work with better leads and spend more time closing sales. Leave it to marketing tactics to keep in touch with prospects, educate them and prepare them for your sales team. Don’t waste time with locked doors.
The Sales and Marketing Process
Taking a process approach to Sales and Marketing is the first step in aligning the Sales and Marketing functions. Bizmanualz Sales & Marketing Policies and Procedures Manual applies the well-defined and under-control process approach to Sales & Marketing tasks, and well as to Administrative and Product Management functions.