In the traditional business world, marketing is like a big umbrella. The sales department is one of many departments that, in theory, function under the marketing umbrella. In reality, the marketing and sales departments often pursue their own unique responsibilities. Unfortunately, these responsibilities may conflict, but if you want to leverage online leads, you must make sure the marketing and sales departments align within the sales funnel.
The Marketing Departments Contributions To The Sales Funnel
The marketing department makes significant tangible contributions that make an effective sales funnel possible, including:
- Conducting research about the marketplace that informs sales funnel operators about the exploitable opportunities within the marketplace;
- Producing literature about the company, its products, and its services, often including official documentation the sales team will need to provide to prospective customers;
- Managing the marketing structure of the organization, including the company website and other components of the sales funnel; and
- Controlling the online pages and tools the company uses, which will also function as components of the sales funnel.
Without the contributions of the marketing department, the sales funnel will never reach its ideal functionality. If the sales team works independently of the marketing team, they must either re-create or commandeer the sales funnel components the marketing team has already built. In-fighting and turf wars could very well replace increased sales and market growth.
The Sales Departments Contributions To The Sales Funnel
The sales department also makes significant intangible contributions that make an effective sales funnel possible, including their:
- Direct experience with the customers of the organization, which may at times contradict more generalized market research;
- Insight about which audience segments are most responsive to the sales funnel technique, as well as insight on audience segments that are underserved in the marketplace;
- Knowledge of the features and benefits of the companys products and services that are consistently relevant to the targeted customers; and
- Knowledge of the information or explanations customers still want after coming out of the existing sales funnel or when referred from other sources.
Without the contributions of the sales department, the sales funnel will never reach its ideal functionality. If the marketing team works independently of the sales team, they will probably leave out information that is vital to customers because they lack the insight that results from face-time with customers. This knowledge simply cannot be replaced by research and analytics. The sales funnel that results may qualify leads it shouldnt and it may spin out leads it should qualify.
The Ideal Sales Funnel Functionality
In order to reach optimum functionality, you need to:
- Use research and experience to create or adjust the sales funnel to successfully target responsive audience segments;
- Use components produced by the marketing department that have been modified to align with the insights of the sales department;
- Ensure that relevant information and explanations are provided within the sales funnel, so potential customers are not spun out of the funnel unnecessarily;
- Structure mechanisms, which are usually controlled by the marketing department, that will deliver qualified leads from the sales funnel to the sales department; and
- Capture data that tracks the successes and failures of the sales funnel in order to construct ways to recapture viable, but unqualified leads through other marketing mechanisms.
This optimum functionality can only be obtained when both departments work together. You could generate this kind of cooperation by voluntarily consulting with the other department. Ideally, however, you will build a cross-departmental team, in which each department participates as equals. By giving a cross-departmental team decision-making authority, you empower each department to collaborate effectively within the team environment in order to construct a truly effective sales funnel that utilizes the best of what both departments have to offer.
* Leader image with work by kern.justin