Sales and Marketing Alignment Success Part I: Definitions

by Michelle Nessman | July 05, 2016 | Sales Enablement


If you haven’t yet ventured into the realm of Inbound Marketing and Inbound Sales, your competitors likely already are. With some element of online research likely occurring with most customers you come in contact with, your digital presence has become more important than ever. Assessing and identifying how to increase lead generation and increase conversion of leads generated from your website are a necessity in a world where providers face growing attrition rates, pressure to fill new communities quicker than ever, or occupancy challenged communities struggling in markets where competitors threaten to suffocate you.

Defining Inbound Marketing and Inbound Sales

Launching an inbound program can be scary. The investment is greater than we are used to spending from a marketing standpoint and sales and marketing alignment become more important than ever before to ensure you see a return on that hefty investment. The first step to creating a solid inbound program is to have transparent definitions that both sales and marketing understand. Here are a few important definitions to get you started:

A persona is a semi-fictional representation of your customers based on research and data about your existing customers. When creating your buyer personas, typically included are customer demographics, common concerns, motivations, and goals.

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In the inbound world, the sales funnel includes key milestones in the buyer’s journey that allow marketing to identify what content will nurture them through the funnel and into Marketing Qualified Leads. Typically the buyer’s journey in an inbound program include the three stages of online research done before they are ready to talk to a sales person. Those three stages are: awareness (where they start researching a problem or question they have), consideration (where they identify possible solutions to their problem or question and further research those options) and the decision stage (where they identify if they would like to further their conversation with a sales person).

Two of the most interchangeable words used in our industry have been leads and prospects. In an inbound program, both have separate definitions. Leads are generated by marketing. Once a lead is in contact with a sales person, they are defined as a prospect.

Marketing Qualified Leads are leads that visit your website and enter the “marketing funnel”. They have likely traded their email with you in exchange for a free report, white paper or other piece of valuable content that addresses a concern or question they have.

Sales Qualified Leads are leads that are ready to have a conversation with a sales person. They’ve done some element of online research, are being nurtured by your lead nurturing automation program and are ready to have that initial conversation with you. Once that initial conversation occurs, sales qualified leads become sales prospects.

A conversion is a rate of measurement. Common conversions measured in an inbound program are website visitors converted to marketing qualified leads, marketing qualified leads converted to sales qualified leads, sales qualified leads converted to tours, and tours converted to move ins. Having clear definitions ensures that measurement of sales and marketing activities becomes seamless.

Read Part II of this Series

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