At Sales for Life, we have created a special handshake between sales and marketing. We’ve also made marketing completely accountable for sales quota attainment and net new sales bookings. This accountability is the future of sales and marketing alignment.

I’m going to break down our actual business process so you can see that we eat our own dogfood.  

Like most businesses, we have a revenue target. And that revenue target is split 50-50 between net new sales and customer success. I want you to picture the revenue target, split 50-50 between sales and customer success.

Now, on the net new side, 50% has to be driven from the marketing team. We can track the lead attribution to the ‘demand-gen’ team, part of what we would call the demand gen waterfall. The other 50% is split between channel: 25% channel partnerships and 25% customer referrals.

Optimizing The Demand-Gen Waterfall

The marketing team doesn’t measure themselves on clicks or number of subscribers or even marketing qualified leads (MQLs). While they’ll use MQLs as a leading indicator to get to our goals, they realize that’s all they are — an indicator, or a litmus test.

The only thing that really matters is sales qualified leads (SQLs).

Every Monday morning we meet as a team, and the main talking point is how many SQLs marketing has delivered to sales in a timely fashion, so sales can hit their goals.

The demand-gen team needs to deliver one SQL to the sales team every two business days. That’s 120 SQLs throughout the year.

That SQL handshake between sales and demand-gen holds the marketing team accountable for optimizing the volume, the velocity and the probability of their insights — otherwise known as content assets.

This content could be anything from webinars to blogs, infographics to guest podcasts. Basically any asset that can achieve the highest probability to convert to an SQL while understanding that we have an organic bank account only so many resources to go around.

For this to happen, sales and marketing sits down more than just once a week to refine the process.

They’re constantly talking about tweaking assets, tweaking messages, doing whatever they can to hit that goal. Because now, over four years, we have discovered the exact math that converts a sales qualified lead to a net new customer.

Understanding The Content Consumption Story

Now, the customer referred leads have different probability of close than the demand-gen side, but the demand-gen side knows they must create a sales qualified lead every second business day. So, what does this mean?

This means sales and marketing alignment sales are one and the same. We call it team revenue.

They just happen to be doing different tasks to achieve the same outcome —  to hit a certain goal of sales qualified leads. Because we know through mathematical probability this goal will achieve the number of net new logos that we want to win.

After breaking down the history of every customer, we’ve also determined that marketing is indirectly responsible for influencing absolutely 100% of our deals. While they’re not organically sourcing them, all our customers consume the insights marketing creates. Whether it’s a channel deal or a customer referred deal, we track every deal back to the customer journey and the content they consume.

And here is the math that we figured out:

  • The average customer in our business will consume 7.4 assets before they buy.

  • The average customer will consume 43% of content insights before our sales team picks up a marketing qualified lead to book a meeting for a pre-sales qualified meeting. This discovery call has to happen to convert it to a sales qualified lead. But we know that almost half a customer’s learning is going to happen before that call.

  • And then 75% of that customer’s learning happens before our field sales team has actually conducted that discovery call.

So customers are consuming a lot more content in preparation for that discovery call. This is what’s called the content consumption story. And our marketing team works in partnership with sales to ensure we’re optimizing that content consumption story to get to the goals we want. Which is what we call the Sales for Life special handshake — the sales qualified lead.

Jamie Shanks

Author: Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks is a world-leading Social Selling expert and author of the book, "Social Selling Mastery - Scaling Up Your Sales And Marketing Machine For The Digital Buyer". A true pioneer in the space of digital sales transformation, Jamie Shanks has trained over 10,000's of sales professionals and leaders all around the world.

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