Sales and marketing. Two words so commonly grouped that they often become synonymous, if not confused entirely. While this may seem obvious, sales and marketing are two very different processes, each contributing to the overall success of a business’s bottom line. Let’s make it clear – sales is the delicate process of facilitating a transaction of your business’s product or service in exchange for payment, while marketing is the art of convincing, encouraging, and guiding prospective consumers to enter the sales process and ultimately become customers and consumers of your company’s offerings.
Not only are sales and marketing often confused with one another, but they are also regularly at odds with one another. Sales and marketing teams often squabble over policies, procedures, and even language! We are living in a time where a blend of consumerism and technology has given prospective consumers more information, agency, and purchasing power than ever before. In simpler terms, customers are savvier than ever, and if your sales and marketing programs can’t work together, there is no way that your sales program will succeed, especially in a hyper competitive market such as medical devices.
This article serves a reminder to sales and marketing staff alike that they are working towards the same goal: increased consumer base, more sales overall, and a booming bottom line. Today, we are going to review some of the basic principles around how sales and marketing teams should be working together and highlight the importance of strong collaboration between sales and marketing teams in your medical device business.
Use Your Data: Sales Should Inform Marketing
So often with sales and marketing teams we assume that information should flow from the marketing team to the sales team in order to properly educate sales staff on things like price, product features, and upcoming promotions. The truth is, the experience of your sales staff has the capacity to produce a gold mine of information about your prospective customer base.
Let’s think of it this way – who are the people who spend the greatest amount of time talking to members of the public about your company’s product or service? Your sales staff! Having sales staff inform your marketing team is a simple, cost-effective way to have your teams work together. If your sales reps hear the same questions over and over again, this is a fantastic opportunity for your marketing team to address that information gap in their next campaign. Similarly, if reps are constantly losing sales because of one particular reason, maybe this is something that can be curbed through different marketing messaging. Regardless of the specifics, leveraging the experiences and institutional knowledge of your sales team is so often untapped when it comes to sales and marketing teams working together, and should be viewed as an invaluable resource with respect to creating a more unified message to your end consumer.
Conversely, it does remain important for sales staff to maintain a level of education with regard to what the marketing team is working on. Whether it is that a particular product is going to be part of a promotion, or that sales staff need a particular piece of collateral, knowing what exists and how the sales and marketing teams can work together can create efficiencies in the sales process. Simply put, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel as a salesperson when there is a marketing team constantly developing and re-developing up-to-date brand messaging, sometimes all it takes is a little communication!
Develop a Common Language: Defining Qualified Leads
Speaking of communication, this section will discuss the importance of sales and marketing teams creating a shared understanding of certain processes, and the terminology that accompanies those processes.
Here at Prizm, we frequently discuss the lead generation process and the benefits that this type of program can have on your company’s sales outcomes (to learn more about lead generation in general, our blog is a great resource). Lead generation is an interesting example because it is a process that may be unfamiliar to some marketing teams, and as a result there may be inconsistent definitions of what exactly a “lead” is. For some organizations, a lead is anyone who might be interested in making a purchase, while other businesses have much more stringent guidelines as to what exactly defines a qualified lead.
Definition: Marketing Qualified Leads and Sales Qualified Leads
One way that sales and marketing teams can work together is by setting clear definitions of their leads based on where they are in the sales funnel. One common way that qualified leads are defined is MQL (marketing qualified leads) and SQL (sales qualified leads).
To keep things simple, marketing qualified leads are individuals who have more knowledge about your product, and likely a greater level of interest, than the average consumer. They have done their research, considered making the purchase, and have probably engaged with your marketing efforts in some way – be it through a commercial, a social media interaction, or a visit to your website. Recognizing that MQL’s should be cultivated differently than cold calls is incredibly important, as it changes the tone of the conversation and caters more directly to individuals who are familiar with your brand and product lines.
In addition, sales qualified leads are those individuals who have passed the marketing stage and are even more likely to make a purchase. Some organizations might consider these leads to be the “low hanging fruit” or the first set of prospects to pursue with a campaign. Sales qualified leads have likely interacted with your sales staff in the past and are looking for very particular information before making their final purchase decision.
As you can likely see, MQL and SQL prospects, while similar, require significantly different approaches to move them towards ultimately making a purchase. MQLs require more general product and benefit information, while SQLs require a more delicate, personalized touch that should be skillfully delivered by trained salespeople.
The importance of sales and marketing teams working together to clearly define key marketing processes, such as the types of leads developed, cannot be understated. Improved communication and shared understanding will only increase the effectiveness of both teams, create a better experience for the savvy consumer, and ultimately improve your businesses sales program and its impact on your bottom line.
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