In our last article we broke down the difference between audience and prospect. We also looked at the unique characteristics that differentiate one from the other.

As a quick recap, an audience represents contacts you wish to engage but have not yet invested in. Generally speaking, these contacts have little to no interest in your organization’s services (prior to any outreach and marketing initiatives). Prospects, by contrast, already have a level of engagement with your organization and some interest in the services you offer. In a lot of cases prospects either initiate engagement or directly respond to marketing initiatives signalling interest and challenges you can theoretically solve.

The tactics involved with building engagement and interest with each group will be very different. Prospects represent lead generation tactics and audiences represent demand generation initiatives. Once your organization can properly divide audience and prospect lists (these two segments essentially make up your TAM: total addressable market), the next step is building an aligned sales and marketing plan for each group.

Who Owns What?

Every organization is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. That said, here’s a broad guide that should fit most organizations who seek to create an aligned sales and marketing strategy. We’ve broken down buyer journeys and intent funnels before. The journey your “leads” take will break into three funnel stages:

  1. Top of Funnel (goal: generate leads, identify good vs bad and interest levels)
  2. Middle of Funnel (goal: identify qualified sales opportunities and timelines)
  3. Bottom of Funnel (run an effective sales process for active opportunities and win business)

While some organizations may have additional stages and complexities in their sales process, this is the starting point 99% of the time. The next task is to assign ownership to each funnel stage. In my mind this is a straightforward exercise. Stage 1 (top of funnel) belongs to marketing and stage 3 (bottom of funnel) belongs to sales. Stage 2 is a collaboration between sales and marketing to agree on qualification criteria and design a “handoff” process that is easy and scalable. Many organizations will have different processes and approaches here (that’s OK – play to your internal strengths), but whatever your group decides, know that technology like marketing automation platforms can help support processes and automate tasks. In our experience marketing automation isn’t used enough for marketing operations and manual task automation. This is a great way to squeeze additional value from your MarTech investments.

Who Does What?

Now that we’re clear on what sales and marketing own, let’s map out responsibilities for both groups. Here’s a simple way of thinking about responsibilities that pair with each stage:

  • Marketing: Drive leads from any and all sources/channels and engage as much of your audience as possible using a variety of tactics and creative ideas.
  • Sales: Connect with all qualified leads who are actively looking for a solution to solve their challenges. I highly recommend creating a feedback loop back to marketing to understand the quality of leads and identify any potential improvements.
  • Shared: That tricky middle of funnel stage noted above will require teamwork from both sales and marketing to pull moderately engaged leads through the funnel. Here are several ideas your team can use to activate leads in your CRM.

With sales and marketing working in unison, this simple 3 stage journey can be extremely effective. The true secret sauce is communication between both sales and marketing to ensure the process works and scale can be achieved.

If your organization requires strategic support to design a smooth sales and marketing funnel, please contact us. We’d love to help build a tight process that results in pipeline creation and accelerated revenue growth.