All too often, communication between sales and marketing fails — which can lead to missed opportunities. Then the debate begins, are the leads bad or is the rep unskilled? Maybe neither, maybe both. In either case, a defined process and some collaboration is likely to help.

This is almost word for word a transcription of a call that came in to my office last week:

“Is Carrie Simpson there?”

“No, can I help you?”

“This is SALES GUY calling from SOFTWARE COMPANY – Carrie Simpson contacted me yesterday and indicated she was interested in a follow up call.”

“No, she didn’t.”

“Yes, she did.”

“You’re telling me the CEO of our company called you yesterday to ask you questions about SOFTWARE COMPANY?”

“I didn’t say she called us.”

“Oh.  Okay, well, how did she contact you?”

“Uh, this lead came to me from the marketing team.”

“Well, I guarantee you Carrie did NOT contact anyone at your company yesterday.”

“Uh, well, we help MSPs…”

“We aren’t an MSP.  We are a telemarketing company that works with MSPs.”

“Uh…”

And it got worse from there.

Where did sales guy go wrong?

Or, did he go wrong at all?

Should marketing have qualified that lead before sending it to him? Or was it his job as a sales rep to qualify the lead before contacting us? Was there any personal attention paid to the process, or did automation just kick off a sales cadence?

There’s a couple of big glaring process issues here. Let’s look at them.

First, someone visiting your website does not instantly make them a qualified lead. That site visit may be a competitor, an accident, someone looking for a new job, a sales rep doing prospecting research, or any of a number of other things. Second, someone visiting your website ten times does not equal them being more ten times more interested or ten times more qualified. It just means they looked at your website a few more times – they’ve still done nothing that would indicate they’re interested – did they fill out a form or call you? No? Not that interested.

This issue is going to present itself more and more often as companies build out automation processes around what happens when someone visits your website. “Site visit” now equals “start this sales cadence.” An automated process is created using multiple online tools, and boom! This company knows who I am, and somehow has both my email address and a phone number, neither of which I provided them with. They began their sales barrage immediately – multiple contacts, multiple ways, same day – but nobody spent five seconds determining what our company actually did and whether or not we were an actual lead.

If your marketing team continually sends half-baked, completely unqualified leads over to your sales team, the sales team will eventually stop focusing on those leads, and you’ll miss the genuine opportunities in the pile. You’ll also see a repeat argument between sales and marketing: Are the leads bad, or is the sales rep unskilled? (Glengarry Glenn Ross: The leads are weak? You’re weak!)

We can’t put all the blame on the marketing team here. The sales rep may not be able to control the quality of the leads that are sent to him, but he can certainly control his approach to prospecting. Pretending that someone contacted you to ask for information when they haven’t is shady, and your sales process shouldn’t be shady.

How would I have changed his approach? Well, first I would have said “Carrie Simpson visited our website yesterday, I’m trying to connect with her to see what she was looking for.”  That’s an honest statement, and one that would have had a far better chance of getting that sales rep the opportunity to speak with me. And while I am not an advocate of pre-call research, a quick google or LinkedIn search while you’re dialing the phone can give you all of the information you need for that first interaction.

How to build a collaborative sales and marketing process

Here are some key things you should consider when you’re building out (or changing) a comprehensive and collaborative sales and marketing process for your MSP:

1. What exactly is a qualified lead? Does everyone share the same definition?

2. Whose responsibility is it to qualify suspects and convert them to leads? The sales team, or the marketing team?

3. Who is responsible for clearly outlining and demonstrating your company sales culture, and; do you value ethics in your sales process, and is this clear to your entire team?

4. Will the automation process you’re building help you or hurt you? Are you getting doors permanently closed on you before you even get to pitch because you’re automating things that require personalization and customization?

With a clearly defined sales culture, a shared definition of the term “qualified”, and a good balance of automation and personalization built to support your team (not replace your team), you’ll find you can create a very powerful, repeatable, and scalable sales and marketing engine to drive your MSP forward. If you need help building out that process, give Managed Sales Pros a call or email hello@managedsalespros.com to set up a call — we have courses that can help you train your talent, build out your processes and close more deals – and we also take on a handful of outbound sales process consulting engagements annually.  Until next time, Happy Selling.

Photo:  microstock3D / Shutterstock.

Carrie Simpson

Posted by Carrie Simpson

Carrie Simpson is the founder of Managed Sales Pros, a lead generation firm dedicated to providing new business opportunities for MSPs. Carrie teaches IT firms how to build, manage, and grow their sales pipelines. You can follow Carrie on Twitter @sales_pros and connect with her on LinkedIn. 

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