blogheader 6 contextualizing data for better sales and marketing results

The data is not enough. We have to contextualize the data itself.

Substantial differences in perspectives can contribute to sales and marketing’s ability to contextualize data. Here are some of the differences in perspective for both departments.

  • Marketers tend to look at aggregate customer segments (Top/Middle of Funnel), while sellers focus on individual customers (Bottom of Funnel).
  • Marketers create inbound strategies, sellers execute on the outcome of those strategies.
  • Marketers heavily concentrate on marketing analysis and process, while sellers work on sales funnel progression via sales tools, processes, and relationship building.

The perspectives are diverse but not mutually exclusive.

Transparency is Key

When a marketing lead becomes a sales-accepted lead, it can become trickier. Traditionally, in that stage, the marketing team lets go and pauses their activities for the moment while the sales team enters into a two-way communication with the prospective customer. Two way communication can come in the form of phone calls, meetings and email communication. Until two way communication is confirmed. At which point the salesperson is qualifying the prospect by inquiring about Budget, Need, Authority and Time, or some other similar qualifying process.

However, this is when the rub happens because marketing can’t control when somebody follows up with the prospect and can’t enforce the Sale’s SLA. Marketing leaders frequently have little visibility into what happens to their leads once sales accepts them. This is a big deal for them since 71% of marketers say that they need better visibility into lower-funnel activity.

The tension for sales also stems from the lack of transparency from marketing. Sales leaders demand visibility into the marketing funnel for alignment. Like with the marketing team, 57% of sales leaders also demand more transparency.

As much as we try, it is incredibly hard to break through that conversation because you can’t contextualize every piece of data if people aren’t always enforcing the rules. The data is not enough. We have to contextualize data itself. That is the only way for both teams to work together in harmony.

How Do We Contextualize Data?

It’s important that we recognize that contextual data is the background information that will give us a broader, and wider understanding of our customers, events, and items. By adding context, we are able to unlock insights, which then leads to more informed and accurate decisions.

Real Life Example

A recent client’s sales team was prioritizing sales generated outbound over marketing qualified inbound demand. Marketing was hitting their Leads and MQL to SAL conversion targets however the transition from SAL to SQL was well below sales targets. This is obviously where things get difficult because of the finger pointing with Sales vs Marketing, but resolving this issue was paramount to their growth.

The data itself was accurate, thus the interpretation would have been marketing is not sending qualified demand. It was only later that we learned that the funnel constipation was the result of not enforcing a clear SLA between sales and marketing in regard to prioritizing inbound demand, over outbound. So leads were sitting in the funnel for extended periods of time thus skewing the interpretation of the data.

Based on these findings the teams agreed to some action items. Efficient followup with Inbound Leads and enforcing SALs between the departments. Instead of looking at outbound vs inbound, looking at how outbound and inbound compliment each other to give a richer data picture and better customer experience. Developing an attribution model based on influence of both sales and marketing programs on the lead journey to help show how sales and marketing should work together on open opportunities and move them through the funnel quickly and efficiently.

To fully leverage contextual data and derive great value from it, it’s critical that both sales and marketing teams are fully aligned and adhere to the same framework. That means they should be on the same page on how they qualify leads, prioritize target personas, have shared KPIs, and aligned compensation.

When sales and marketing teams are aligned, the results will be impressive, including 32% higher revenue, 36% more customers retained, and 38% higher win rates.

It’s important to remember that contextualizing data is not a query you do in a spreadsheet. It’s internal behavior that is not being captured in the data. It simply comes down to frequent and honest conversation about what’s working, what’s not, why, and how it can be improved.

Lastly, sit in on the weekly sales all-hands meeting. Listen for points of contention to get ahead of the curve and know what needs to be done. It’s not a competition. It’s about building real professional relationships across your organization. It’s about feeling safe to take risks, and to be wrong. And the humility to own your mistakes, and to correct them. And when you do win, you put the team on your shoulders and give them the credit they deserve.

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