Marketers don’t understand analytics and their efforts hardly produce qualified leads. Sales people are lazy and miss opportunities by poorly nurturing leads. Does this sort of finger-pointing sound familiar to you? Most organizations (both large and small) suffer from wasted hours and loss of ROI through lack of marketing-sales alignment. This article will explore how marketing and sales teams might better work together by sharing a common view of leads and collectively aligning goals towards customer conversion.

When nurturing leads and moving them into the sales pipeline, it’s crucial for both the marketing and sales teams to have a clear picture of lead behavior. This requires detailed and easily shareable data. Emails sent to leads (both by sales and marketing), web pages visited, social media activity, phone calls, automation rules and responses generated — all of this collective activity should be stored in the CRM. If lead data isn’t stored in the CRM, the sales team can’t have a clear picture of how to move forward. For example, a duplicated effort or poorly timed email might totally negate a month of subtle marketing efforts. In short, both marketing and sales need to have a mutual understanding of who are the qualified (or potentially sales-ready) leads.

The terms Sales-Qualified Lead (SQL) and Marketing-Qualified Lead (MQL) are used respectively to determine the defining parameters of when a lead is sales-ready and how a lead is passed on to the sales team. This way of grouping leads helps marketing and sales teams easily align their goals and also track performance and conversion rates.

When it comes to the nitty-gritty of lead nurturing and client acquisition, the potential of automation can’t be understated. Marketers can create automation rules that tangibly assist sales efforts. For example, drip campaigns can be used to educate and nurture cold-leads, prepping them for the eventual sales pitch. Another example is to provide an automated email follow-up for interested leads addressed by a member of the sales team.

A useful tool for creating effective automation rules for lead groups is through creating Customer Personas. Different lead types act differently to marketing and sales efforts than others. For example, some leads are really responsive to thought leadership (CEOs for instance), while others are turned off by this sort of brand evangelism. One of the goals of marketers should be to study the analytics in order to group leads into Customer Personas. This action would help give the sales team a better idea of the lead types they will be dealing with. Demographic information, research into industrial psychology and corporate behavior, and measuring responses to marketing and sales efforts all go into determining Customer Personas.

Connecting the data gathered through lead nurturing and automation to a CRM system is key to translating marketing efforts into sales success. Coming up with Customer Personas that can be mutually understood and communicated between marketing and sales teams is a useful system for predicting how leads will interact with sales people. In short, both marketers and sales people have to start taking collective responsibility when it comes to managing leads and converting them into clients.