A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending Pardot’s Sales Academy with 25 other folks from all over the world, including Australia, Spain and London. At six weeks into my time here at Pardot, I’m still learning so much. Attending our Sales Academy was a great opportunity for me to take a walk on the sales side and understand what happens after marketing sends a lead their way. We speak a lot here about how to better align marketing and sales, and we practice what we preach every day by figuring out new ways we can better connect our own teams. We know that when we’re all in sync, we’ll find more leads, win more deals, and keep more customers. This was a chance for me to really dive in and see things from the sales perspective. Today I’m going to share what I learned about the sales process, and some key takeaways for marketers.
Fast Fact: Organizations with tightly-aligned sales and marketing had 36% higher customer retention rates and achieved 38% higher sales win rates. (MarketingProfs)
The first thing we took a look at was the prospecting stage of the sales cycle. How are we identifying potential customers and vetting them to make sure they’re going to really benefit from our marketing automation solutions? How are we scoring these leads so that our sales team knows exactly which ones are ready to buy, and which ones need some additional information before they become sales-ready? What does the sales team do with these leads?
Marketer’s Takeaway: I already knew a lot about how we generate leads on the marketing team, but this new perspective allowed me to see exactly how our efforts are connected to sales, and made me see and think about different ways I might work to help better support them.
The second stage we took a deep dive into was the qualification stage. We do our best to qualify leads from the marketing side, but sometimes it requires an extra conversation. We have a team that does just that. Not everyone is going to be a perfect match for what we offer. Spending some time on the front-end qualifying leads ensures that our Account Managers can be more informed and efficient when then kick off deeper conversations. Our qualification team spends just the right amount of time doing background work to make sure that what we offer is truly a good fit for each potential customer, so no one’s time is wasted.
Marketer’s Takeaway: You can’t expect every lead (or even every MQL!) to become your customer, but you can work to identify your target audience and reach those folks. Ask sales for feedback on leads from your various campaigns and vendors for a new take on what’s working.
Qualified leads enter the discovery stage, which is where things really get exciting. We dig deep into a customer’s business to understand what they do, how they do it, and find our solutions impact on them personally as well as their businesses. Our Account Managers approach everything as a consultation, and love to help uncover hidden opportunities in people’s processes. Any time we can help someone improve their marketing approach, it’s a win, and sometimes that happens from the very first conversation!
At this point, our Account Managers will walk potential clients through the Pardot and Engage products, and talk about how these solutions relate to the business challenges uncovered in the initial discovery conversation. Customer get to see exactly how our solutions work, step by step. This is extremely important, because part of our Pardot Promise is ease of use. It’s written into the core of our products, and our customers are able to get up and running fast for this very reason.
Marketer’s Takeaway: The sales process should be just as personalized as our marketing process. Each solution is crafted to meet exactly what the customer needs, taking into account their complete strategy and Salesforce ecosystem. You have to listen more than you speak.
Overall, I learned a lot about how our company works internally across disciplines to offer the best experience to customers and potential customers, and how we can create even more alignment between our marketing and sales teams. If you’re a marketer, look for opportunities to better understand with what your sales team is doing, and how they do it. Find chances to uncover their pain points, and think about how your team can support them. The better we work together, the easier it is to pass that love along to customers and provide the very best experience and partnership that we can.