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6 Crucial Questions to Ask Your Sales Team about the Customer

It’s no secret that many businesses have trouble keeping their marketing and sales teams aligned. The two departments are often treated as separate entities, which has caused a fierce rivalry in some companies.

One study of sales and marketing executives found that even though the majority of B2B marketers (76 percent) believe their marketing assets are effective, less than half (46 percent) of salespeople feel the same way. Another survey revealed that 87 percent of the terms the two groups used to describe each other were negative, citing zingers such as: paper pushers, irrelevant, cowboys, and incompetent.

Ouch.

This tug-of-war can cause profit loss, siloed information, poor customer experiences, and a pitiful company culture.

So how do you keep sales and marketing teams on the same page? Through collaboration. Both sides should be working towards a shared goal: generating more business. Aligning sales and marketing teams makes both sides stronger and more effective.

If this rift sounds familiar, then it’s time for your business to call a truce and adopt a team mentality— for the sake of the company and the customer. Communication is the key to encouraging collaboration between the two departments, so a great place to start is by simply having a conversation with those who talk to the customers all day: your sales reps. When you do so, the following questions are key to ensuring that sales, marketing, and customers are aligned:

1. What does the customer’s typical buying process look like? How long does it last?

Starting at the very beginning will help both marketing and sales develop a strong understanding of the customer and their needs. By reviewing the buyer’s journey, you can then examine both the sales and marketing processes to ensure that they’re complementary. This way, marketing departments can provide relevant information that moves the buyer down the sales funnel, and sales reps save time by contacting only qualified leads.

2. How do you define a sales-ready lead?

After discussing the sales pipeline, it’s important that both parties agree on what makes a lead qualified. If you determine the factors sales reps look for when deciding which lead to call, then you can develop a strategy that delivers more of those leads. Even if your marketing automation software has a lead scoring system, it’s important to listen to get detailed feedback from sales reps in order to refine the lead generation process. Finding out what makes a great lead— job title, content viewed, budget —  creates a company-wide definition of what a sales-ready lead is and sets up clear expectations for both sides.

3. Do leads know the company’s value proposition?

Delivering the right message is a core tenet of marketing. But if potential customers are turning cold once they talk to a sales rep, then they may not understand what your company actually offers. Your website, marketing materials, and social media accounts all need to ensure you’re setting the correct expectations. Marketing should tell leads what your company offers and how it helps them so that sales can be as efficient as possible.

4. How many people are involved with the buying decision?

Determining the key influencers in a customer’s buying process will identify the primary customer and any additional gatekeepers. These different people could have separate buyer personas, and therefore require a different marketing approach— such as broader content or different delivery approaches.

5. What are the most common questions customers ask?

Your sales representatives are the ones actually listening to your customers for hours each day. Though it’s easy for marketing to write the content or videos they want prospects to read, in reality, it’s best to create the content your prospects want to read. Simply asking your sales team what questions they are constantly answering gives marketing departments the opportunity to create highly targeted content that is guaranteed to help customers in their buying journey.

6. What are the biggest reasons a lead doesn’t close?

Pinpointing the most common objections leads have to buying is one of the most valuable things a marketer can do. A lead that is not ready to buy still has potential. If sales teams pass those cold leads back to marketing, they can then use marketing automation software to warm them up. For example, you could then segment your cold leads depending on their objection, and then target a nurturing campaign that addresses their concerns. The more marketing learns about the customer, the more tailored and helpful their efforts will be.

It’s critical that marketing and sales work together to streamline the customer experience. When both departments collaborate, they create a virtuous cycle: sales has unique customer insights that marketing uses to create better content which then provides sales with more high quality leads. Having the two entities pitted against one another doesn’t help anyone. Asking the right questions will settle the differences and ensure that every department succeeds— as a team.