What are the Steps to Successful Integration? (Part One)

Lisa Fiondella

October 26, 2015

By now, most of you realize I am a strong proponent of integrating sales and marketing. I consider it the fastest, surest, and most efficient way to make companies profitable.

I know this because I’ve done it. Successfully.

And, I’ve seen it deliver great growth results – to the tune of a 40% increase in sales productivity and year-over-year compound annual revenue growth of 25%, both in just two years. When marketing and sales shake hands and become partners, they score for the company.

Agreed? Good. Because the next logical question is, “How do we get there?”

The Long And Winding Road

Much like the long road trips taken in the family station wagon years ago, successful integration does not happen overnight. The very first step taken is a total assessment of your marketing and selling processes as they operate today. That includes everything from how you market to prospects, to when and how they respond (retail, website, call center, etc.), to how your organization responds and treats them – and your existing customers.

Once they respond, what do you do to nurture them? How are you taking them from a cold lead to a warm prospect? Are you using webinars, telephone conversations, or downloadable white papers? Are you capturing the fact that you are doing so?How are your customers raising their hands and saying they’re interested in what you have to offer? And, how are you maintaining and cultivating relationships with your current clients?

Also in the crosshairs is how these leads are handed off to sales, and how sales responds to them. Do they listen to the prospect and determine his/her needs correctly? Did the prospect request a proposal? Did you get it right and was pricing correct? Was the sale closed and a contract signed? Next, your onboarding process for new customers should be analyzed. How long is it taking?What are the hindrances to fast and efficient onboarding?Are you delivering what you promised at the price you quoted? Do you have a plan in place to cross-sell other needed product and services in the first nine months while you’re still in the honeymoon phase with new clients?If not, why not, and what do you need to do to improve?Is your client happy and satisfied?

In today’s data-enriched world, most companies use technology to capture and automate their nurturing programs.As they come in, leads are first fed into a marketing automation system. Once scored and/or sufficiently nurtured, they are passed into a salesforce automation system.Are those leads being routed to the right sales people with the right knowledge and skills to close? Are sales process dispositions being captured? Are sales analytics being created and utilized and are sales managers using the analytics for coaching and performance management? Is the right engagement information making it back into the marketing database for recalibration of the lead scoring models?

In short, I’m talking about examining everything in your current process … from start to finish.

Are We There Yet?

But, your work doesn’t end there, because this isn’t simply about putting marketing and sales in a room and asking, “Why can’t we just get along?” It’s about instituting real, measurable metrics that will keep both groups focused on the same goals and objectives, implementing a shared balanced score card and ensuring accountability to each other.

Bottom line? In this new, aligned world, sales and marketing must agree upon the key metrics that matter to achieve business performance and then collectively strive to improve based on an agreed upon set of goals.

Next, I’ll share what steps are necessary once you’ve completed your thorough assessment. We’ll also discuss what constitutes the most important cog in this integration wheel – your people.