How Do You Bridge the Marketing-Sales Gap? Advocates!

Courtney Kay

VP of Field Marketing

marketing sales lead handoffThe marketing and sales lead handoff is a topic we’ve been talking about for a long time. While the right way to do it and what it entails continue to be an area of debate, what isn’t disputed is its importance. In fact, over the past 12-18 months, the focus on getting this lead handoff process right is creeping up higher and higher on our radars. We’ve seen marketing and sales teams morph with new roles, processes, and even technologies being implemented that attempt to bring this lead handoff to a more seamless state all because today’s buyer demands transcend from the content experience to the sales call.

According to our annual Media Consumption study over 80% of B2B technology buyers expect a sales rep to explain specifically how his/her organization can implement the technology and how that compares to the other solutions already on his/her short list. These higher expectations, coupled with buyer’s ability to find and consume content on their own, sales reps are only spending about 37% of their available time actually selling. This demand on sales sophistication is putting more pressure on marketers, not just for the quality of the deliverable (or lead), but the intelligence being delivered along with it. We’re starting to see lots of interesting approaches to trying to solve this challenge from the people we’re hiring to the data we’re analyzing, and last week, we learned about a really cool approach the smart marketers over at Ipswitch are taking that I thought was worth sharing.

Developing advocacy for your prospects

Last fall, the marketing team introduced what they call the Ipswitch File Transfer advocate team. The mission of this team (that sits within marketing vs. sales) is to help a prospect or customer navigate his or her way through the research and evaluation journey with information on the importance and benefit of managed file transfer. This team essentially bridges the gap between traditional digital marketing and the inside sales function by introducing, what I like to think of as digital tour guides to enable prospects through content. These “advocates” as they’re called (like Mary Craig) are showcased as experts who deliver information that helps buyers explore their challenges, understand their options and evaluate solutions. Mary’s leads passed to sales convert to opportunities at a high rate because she’s not positioning herself as a sales person and she’s providing insight – much like a sales engineer would, but earlier in the prospect’s journey..

Putting a face to a name to help your marketing and sales organizations

While an advocate team may not be realistic for your specific organization, I think we can all learn and leverage a few key things from Ipswitch that are worth thinking about:

  • Creating a face for marketing: As marketers, I think we’re often the first to acknowledge the importance of making someone feel a personal connection- heck we even put real faces to our personas. Yet, when we’re marketing to prospects, we don’t show them who they’re actually talking to. The only access point they have, is a sales contact.  This advocate strategy creates an actual face for marketing and connection with the buyer, in a non-sales manner. I like to think of a Mary as a personalized content marketer, adapting the Ipswitch content story, to the buyer’s unique situation.
  • Marketing sales: I’ll be the first to admit, I felt like an idiot for having never thought of this. We market virtually everything about our businesses, from products, partnerships, and customers, to executives, locations and even careers… but we don’t market how great our sales teams are! Ipswitch not only introduced what this team is designed to do, they built essentially a ‘resume’ page for Mary. We can take the same approach for our sales organizations to help build their reputations and expertise for our prospects & clients. Zak Pines explores this concept a bit more in a post on his blog, Stories from a Moneyball Marketer.

According to a CSO Insights survey, 89% of companies that align sales and marketing lead gen efforts report measurable increases in the number of leads that turned to opportunities. While every lead handoff process is going to be a bit different based on the construct of your teams, processes and technologies, it’s an area worth paying close attention. Test out different concepts and find the recipe that works for your business (and be sure to sure your unique approach). To learn more, or discuss lead handoff strategies for your company, feel free to leave a comment or reach reach out via email or Twitter.

demand generation, Ipswitch, lead conversion, lead follow-up, lead handoff strategies, marketing and sales alignment, sales and marketing advocates, sales and marketing alignment, sales marketing handoff

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