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Ending the Age Old Battle Between Sales & Marketing: The Inbound Sales Funnel

By Andy Mullins on November 8, 2016 in Inbound Marketing, Lead Conversion, Hubspot
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Inbound Marketing Defines Marketing Qualified & Sales Qualified Leads

Marketing and Sales are both important to the success of your company (by moving leads through the sales funnel). But when it comes to deciding which of them is most important, there’s no surprise that each side places itself at the top while laughing off the notion that sales/marketing would even be considered as more important than marketing/sales. In fact, a Corporate Executive Board Study found that 87% of the terms used by marketing to describe sales and sales to describe marketing are inherently negative.

The results are not good for your company. An Aberdeen Group Study discovered that in companies where marketing and sales are treated as two separate, often competing teams, annual revenue declines by an average of 4%.

Smarketing: The Solution

What’s the solution?

The personalities found in sales and marketing departments tend to thrive on the idea of competition. While this is a good thing, it’s detrimental when each department is competing against the other. Sales and marketing are both on the same team: Team Revenue. In companies where sales and marketing (Smarketing) teams worked together, Aberdeen’s Group Study found annual revenue to go from -4% to +20%. In other words, Smarketing is the way to go.

In order for Smarketing to happen, Marketing and Sales departments must work in alignment with one another. There is no more critical a point in the marketing and sales funnel then in the exchange of marketing and sales qualified leads.

What is A Marketing Qualified Lead?

A marketing qualified lead is a lead that has identified him/herself as more deeply engaged and sales ready with a high level of interest in your product or service.

Marketing Qualified Leads quadrants

This graph demonstrates how marketing qualified leads are generated. When a well-fitting lead has demonstrated interest in moving forward through the Smarketing funnel, they become a marketing qualified lead. It is at this point in the funnel where the passing of the baton occurs. The generating of marketing qualified leads means that the marketing department has done a good job, but it doesn’t end there.

Sales Qualified Leads

The crossover from a Marketing Qualified Lead to a Sales Qualified Lead takes place when an MQL is presented to the sales department to determine if the lead is worthy of a direct follow up.

In order for this transfer process to work well, moving leads toward the end of the funnel where they become customers instead of wasting both the marketing and sales departments’ time and resources, both departments must have a clear understanding of the type of lead (or persona) they’re looking for. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is helpful for clarifying what each department commits to accomplishing to support the other. By operating according to their agreed-upon SLA, Smarketing teams can nurture MQL’s and SQL’s that eventually become delighted customers.

Why Are MQL’s & SQL’s So Important to the Sales Funnel?

marketing sales funnel

The marketing and sales funnel demonstrates the different phases a customer goes through en route to becoming a customer. The reason Marketing and Sales Qualified Leads are so important is because they are the touch point between the two departments that combine to create revenue for your company.

For the Smarketing funnel to result in better revenue for your company, both departments must operate cohesively, defining their target personas the same way. Once a lead is considered an MQL, the transition to SQL (and eventually, a Customer) can only be successful if the communication between the two departments is clear and frequent.

About the Author

Andy MullinsView all posts by Andy Mullins >