Do your sales and marketing teams work together to create a seamless experience for your customers and prospects? Or are these two departments creating chaos, confusion and long close cycles?

Sales and marketing – two departments that go together like peas and carrots. Or do they? Frequently organizations lump sales and marketing together without considering the actual functions of these two important areas. Let’s begin with an overview of the purpose of each department.

Marketing is the communication of benefits that actively engage a target audience. Through the use of good messaging, campaigns and collateral, marketing focuses on generating interest in your services or products.

Marketing processes include determining your ideal target customer, deciding upon and executing a good messaging strategy, generating content that creates interest in your product or service and devising a solid lead generation process. Once you have created a solid marketing strategy, you can then focus on the sales process. Marketing, including leading generation, does feed the sales process. So how do you know when to move someone from the marketing to the sales process? You build in triggers.

When an interaction occurs with a potential customer that involves a trigger, you know the person is interested and can take the appropriate next step. Triggers can include downloading a particular article, engaging in an email conversation, or requesting more information from a call to action. The trigger must be designed so that you are certain that interest is there and the person is ready to move to the sales funnel.

Sales is the process of furthering the conversation with interested parties (interested being the key word). Once the marketing process has done its job, the sales team will take over. At this point, the communications should become more focused on customers so they know you are prepared to solve their problem.

The sales communication includes demonstrations, samples, and in-depth conversations that provide you with insights on the potential customer’s pain points. Too often we jump to this stage without bothering to find out if the person is even interested in our product or service. This creates a much longer sales cycle and a burden on the sales team.

Challenge the Norm: The marketing and sales processes are different, and therefore require two funnels- lead generation and sales. You need a clear understanding of the differences between marketing and sales in order to effectively manage each process – even if the two are combined in one department.

The most effective means of managing marketing and sales to is utilize an effective channel strategy. This strategy encompasses creating interest and processing potential clients through a series of touch points that drive them toward a sale. Properly executing these steps naturally take your lead to an opportunity, and then to a much easier sale.

Once the sale is made, then you have a client. However, this is not the end of the process! Too often business development teams start over rather than take this next crucial step – make your client a partner!

An important aspect of the channel strategy is to engage clients so they become partners. This level of account development ensures that you are the “go-to” company when your client needs another product or service you provide. To execute this part of the channel strategy, you will need a good client engagement process. Client engagement is often overlooked and yet is a critical component of building partners. To ensure your client engagement process works, first set expectations properly. This requires excellent communication, defining clear roles and responsibilities and ensuring there are mechanisms to receive feedback throughout the entire engagement. When done well, client engagement solidifies your partner status with a client which provides not only a rich source of repeat business, but also good referrals and endorsements.

This extremely effective channel strategy begins with the full understanding that marketing and sales are different. A well-written marketing and sales process is crucial, particularly when outlining client touch points and triggers to move a lead to an opportunity. Remember to master this strategy requires that your process include a process that ensures you move from leads to opportunities to sales to partners. Only then can you truly create the marketing / sales dynamic duo!

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