Marketing and sales departments are often like cats and dogs living under the same roof; they both need to be there, but they just can’t get along. Some days, there’s just an occasional hiss or a growl, and other days there’s clawing and fur flying. Luckily, companies are recognizing that alignment between these groups is critical to business success, so they’re making efforts toward unity.But, where do you start? It’s actually surprisingly simple, if you know where the bulk of the friction lies, which is in the fundamentals. Different perspectives on what constitutes a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) may sound innocuous but they lay the groundwork for blame and poor results. Here’s a look at the best marketing KPIs to help your two favorite departments set aside their differences and get on the same page.

Marketing Qualified Leads - MQL

Marketing is on the hook to attract and capture leads that can ultimately be passed off to sales to be converted into customers. So, there’s sometimes an unconscious drive by marketers to focus on volume. If they’re delivering a lot of leads to sales, then they’re doing their job, right? Nope! This faulty logic creates more chaos and less real business impact. Sales almost always insists that MQLs need to be better qualified when they’re given to them.

Think of it like your friend Sue (a.k.a. marketing) who wants to set you up with your perfect romantic match (a.k.a. customers who are ready to buy).  But Sue has set her standards realllllllly low. She keeps trying to connect you with people she didn’t realize were already engaged, not interested in meeting new people or not even on the same continent as you. “Oops,” Sue says with a shrug. “At least I’m giving you a lot of names!”

But Sue, with all her great intentions, is not getting you closer to a meaningful relationship or a lifelong love. She’s really just wasting your time. This is exactly how sales feels when they get list after list of “leads” who are not at all ready to talk to your company or take the next step.

Sales Qualified Leads - SQL

Sales teams are a bit less guilty of prioritizing volume over quality, but they’re still not blameless. In fact, both departments should be filtering out leads based on their ideal buyer personas, so no one who isn’t a good fit gets any further. But sales in particular must take the leads (MQLs) that marketing hands over to them and further qualify them. They need to have their own process in place to make sure each lead they spend any time pursuing fits their personas and is expressing interest. Otherwise, they shouldn’t be classified as SQLs.

The Peacemaker: A Clear Handoff

Back to the battle between cats and dogs, the lack of alignment between sales and marketing usually arises because of a lack of results. Revenue is struggling or goals aren’t being met and so marketing points their fingers at sales and vice versa. “They didn’t give me the right leads,” sales says. “They didn’t do enough with the leads we gave them,” marketing protests. Over time, this creates blame-heavy animosity and credit-seeking competition. Bleh.

How do you fix it? Well first, you need to redefine MQLs and SQLs. Marketing and sales need to have a meeting - together - to discuss what should constitute an MQL. Is it someone who has filled out a form on your website? Someone who has called and asked for pricing information? How can both parties feel good about the qualification of leads that marketing passes over? Then, the same for an SQL. Both departments should understand, at a deep level, how these types of leads become qualified to move forward through the process.

And, there’s one more important thing: Service Level Agreements (SLAs). This is a document in which sales and marketing should clearly detail their newly updated definitions of MQLs and SQLs. It should also include an overview of how the handoff between marketing and sales should happen. This encompasses procedures, FAQs and any other important details.

It’s not necessarily easy to align sales and marketing around leads and common goals, but it’s also not as hard as it might seem. Start by getting in agreement about lead definitions and the marketing to sales handoff, and you’ll be leagues ahead of most companies. Best of all, the cats and dogs that are so important in your business will surely start getting along, which is truly a sight to behold. Interested in finding out how your sales and marketing teams can get better aligned? Contact us anytime and let our marketing strategy process take the guesswork out.

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Speaking of actions becoming more effortless, this is another book of McKeown’s that topped our 2022 reading list. Adding onto the powerful guidance around essentialism, this read delivers “proven strategies for making the most important activities the easiest ones,” like mapping out the minimum number of steps, finding the courage to “be rubbish” and more.
About the Author:
Shana O'Connor
About the Author:
Jay Feitlinger

Jay, the CEO of StringCan, oversees strategy and vision, building culture that makes going into work something he looks forward to, recruiting additional awesome team members to help exceed clients goals, leading the team and allocating where StringCan invests time and money.


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