Ending the War Between Marketing and Sales for Good
Marketing and sales have been at war for what feels like millennia. According to Hubspot, 87% of the words both teams use to describe each other are negative. Sales teams are incompetent. Marketers are out of touch.
When sales and marketing work together, the results speak for themselves. We're talking shorter sales cycles, better leads, and more profits. When they don't, reps chasing the wrong leads and prospects slip through the cracks.
The point is, those companies with warring sales and marketing teams get left behind. Those that embrace a collaborative, customer-centric approach win, as customers can always find another agent thanks to platforms like PropertyGuru, 99.co, or even Facebook.
Keep reading, and we’ll explain what’s behind this long-standing rivalry and what real estate agencies can do to create a more unified culture.
What’s with the rift, anyway?
According to a 2006 piece from the Harvard Business Review (it’s still relevant, we promise), this deep-seated resentment is part cultural, part economic.
Sales teams can trace their efforts back to how many deals they closed. Whereas, with marketing, it’s harder to point to the exact metrics that show a success. That difference alone creates some tension. And often, marketing teams feel like they're seen as support staff, not equals.
A common complaint we hear from marketers is, sales makes a fuss when things don’t go their way. They blame the marketing team for giving them a bad batch of leads. Yet, when the time comes to discuss lead gen strategy, sales is too busy to talk buyer personas or qualified lead criteria. Marketing needs insights from sellers, but accessing that information is like pulling teeth.
As such, the first step of your unification effort is combining teams and developing a set of shared goals. This also means sharing the same space and attending the same meetings. The ultimate goal is to open access to customer data, allowing teams to make decisions based on the facts, not gut feelings.
In these next sections, we’ll go over some things that marketing and sales can do to improve their relationship and close more deals.
Sales and marketing teams need to adjust to a non-linear buyer’s journey
Today’s real estate game is more online than ever - buyers both commercial and residential - demand more. More content, more personalization, more convenience.
According to Marketo, sales and marketing teams may want to consider approaching the sales funnel in a slightly different manner - which they’ve called the revenue cycle.
The reason being, today’s consumers kick off their research process on their own using websites and social media to get informed before reaching out. The traditional approach to marketing and sales keeps each department in their own silos, yet the modern landscape requires companies to deliver a personal experience to each prospect.
To get this right, there needs to be a culture of transparency in place, allowing both teams to review lead data at every touch point.
Digital technologies have shaken things up for sales, marketing, and to a greater degree, the buyers themselves. According to research published by Google, more than 55% of the purchases in SEA region made offline after the purchasers had searched online.
Develop a shared language around leads
Rallying around the same revenue goal is a start, but you’ll also need to get both teams speaking the same language. Often there’s a disconnect in how marketing and sales think about leads, as well as how they measure success.
According to Deloitte, today’s marketers are expected to be growth drivers, whereas, in the past, they were responsible for branding, advertising, and raising awareness. The modern sales rep is now expected to have more involvement in lead generation and customer engagement, rather than applying old school tactics such as cold calling leads without context.
Both teams need to get together to define the following:
When a new lead comes in how do you determine their buying power and intent? In real estate, lead qualification happens early on and involves collecting information about your leads that indicates whether they're willing and able to buy or sell. Agents typically have a clear picture of what makes a lead qualified, and if they don't meet the criteria, will quickly disqualify them.
Sales and marketing need to get together to identify how leads interact with your brand, what attributes signal that someone is sales-ready or not qualified? Because qualification criteria are based on things like income, credit score, and downpayment, scoring leads will depend primarily on where leads are in their buying process. Given the long sales cycle, marketing will likely handle a lead until they’re in the evaluation stage, at which point, they’ll hand-off the lead to sales.
2. Lead generation
Marketing might have a plan, but it needs to align with what sales is trying to achieve. With more input during the lead generation phase, sales teams can get a better sense of where leads are coming from and what they're looking for.
Ultimately, approaching lead generation as a cross-team effort adds up to a more efficient sales process. Reps won't burn out chasing unqualified leads and instead, can focus on delivering high-quality, personalized service to serious buyers.
3. Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
SLAs are contracts that hold both parties accountable for working toward an agreed-upon set of goals and expectations. This aims to prevent the blame-game drama at the heart of this rift. For example, if you have marketers upset that sales teams are wasting the leads they’ve generated and sales teams crying unqualified leads - you’ve got a misalignment.
With an SLA, you’ll have clearly defined goals for both teams - think a target number of inbound leads or more reach on a specific platform.
Finally, marketing and sales teams need to meet regularly to discuss the following:
Is marketing bringing in qualified leads?
Which channels are driving the most traffic, collecting the most leads?
What kind of feedback are sales reps hearing when they meet with buyers?
Does the sales team need specific content to address FAQs or common pain points?
Which demographics are most profitable? Are there areas where marketing efforts/budget are better spent?
Make buyer personas a collaborative effort
According to Hubspot's 2019 State of Inbound report, 63% of respondents reported that generating traffic and leads was their top marketing concern. Another 40% said proving marketing ROI was their biggest challenge.
What's worth mentioning is those marketing challenges often start at the foundation -persona development, mapping the buyer's journey and establishing a unified set of goals.
Often, sales reps are left out of the persona development process, which makes little sense, given that they're the ones who interact with prospects. That disconnect means that neither sales nor marketing has a full picture of what their customers want, or why they make the decisions that they make.
We’re in the midst of the Relationship Era, where “good” isn’t always enough - every interaction must exceed expectations - or, to add another buzzword into the mix, delight.
Without sales’ input about what real buyers care about, marketers are left with a character template to build a strategy around. When you have a transparent culture in place, personas start to look more like the real people that inspired them.
Read any marketing blog, and you might think that many of the world’s problems can be resolved through the power of content.
That said, arming sales reps with the right content can make a huge difference in sales’ ability to connect with buyers. Once you've defined who your customer is and what motivates them, sales and marketing need to have a serious talk about content that covers the following areas:
List all existing content - blog posts, e-books, case studies, white papers, social media channels, and so on.
Map out how that content fits in with the customer’s journey and what problems it solves at each touchpoint.
Discuss common questions, concerns, and objections sales reps hear from clients. These insights can serve as a starting point for blogs, videos, and social media ads.
Go over which channels you’d like to focus on.
Develop a shared content calendar and assign deliverables.
Meet weekly for brainstorming sessions and a look at how content is performing.
Both teams should take the time to organize and understand what content works best for which stage of the buyer's journey. Often the marketing-sales relationship is a one-way street, with marketing funneling information to sales, but getting little feedback in return.
By collaborating on content, marketing can help sales reps move prospects through the funnel by serving up dynamic, personalized content to qualified leads at different points in the journey. For example, they might work together to run Instagram campaigns that showcase the latest listings or interviewing past buyers for a case study.
Track every interaction with a CRM
Today’s real estate agents are bogged down by data. They’re juggling deals, fees, commissions, budgets, and more. You’ve also got leads coming in from various platforms like 99.co, iProperty, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, your website, the list goes on.
As you consider your sales-marketing technology stack, you’ll need to choose a CRM. CRMs function as your central hub - allowing both sales and marketing to get the full picture for any client, lead, or prospect your company has interacted with. Use it to review call recordings, notes, and deals in progress, as well as information about the types of content this person has received.
For agents, easy access to all prospect data means the ability to customize offers on the go. For example, you’ll have their financial info on hand, as well as information about what they’re looking for in a home. Think nearby schools, walkable restaurants and shops, nearby parks and recreation, etc.
In addition to a CRM, you’ll also want to invest in a lead management solution. For real estate agents and marketers, the benefit is, as you capture leads from your various sources, the system automates the process, so nothing falls through the cracks.
For example, SalesCandy LMS captures leads from connected sources, then routes leads to available sales reps for follow-up. The idea is, you can reduce first response times, which increases your chances of converting.
Other benefits include better lead scoring and nurturing, as well as the ability to track your efforts against what’s actually happening inside the sales cycle.
For instance, you might review which content works best for specific types of buyers, review results by demographic, or look at which channels capture the most qualified leads. Sales teams can use that data to get a zoomed-out picture of the client, filling in the blanks with real-world insights.
Social media literacy
Millennials now make up about 66% of the market for first-time homebuyers. So, naturally, it makes sense that 99% of those prospective buyers take to the web to start their search and channels like Google, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have proven to be effective platforms for reaching today’s buyer.
Real estate sales and marketing teams can work together to create a social media plan that spans the entire revenue cycle. Marketing teams handle campaigns - they might promote cities and neighborhoods, share blog content, and create videos that offer users a digital tour of listings.
Sales needs to be involved in this process because, as marketing collects leads through their blend of paid ads and organic posts, reps can respond personally, making connections with buyers.
Agents might send personal content recommendations to someone that comments on a Facebook post. That might mean information about the schools in a specific neighborhood or some guidance on how to kickstart their home search.
Known as social selling, this approach lets agents nurture leads on social media. The sales funnel still comes into play here but works best when reps act as a resource, rather than pressure potential buyers.
With social selling, reps can build relationships earlier in the buyer’s journey, proving themselves knowledgeable experts in their field. The other benefit is - social selling comes with a ton of insights. Agents look at what content prospects post, what are their likes and dislikes, and online behaviors.
This benefits both sales and marketing - both teams can better personalize their outreach efforts and cater to individual needs. Marketers might target first-time buyers with tips and tricks for finding the right agent.
Or, they might create content that highlights the best things to do for families in a particular city. Sales teams can use social data to put together a list of viewings that align with a person’s price range and preferences.
Close more sales, together
In the end, ending the war is really about putting aside long-standing differences for the sake of the customer.
Today’s customer expects helpful, high-quality information to help them make a buying decision. They want to talk to reps after doing their research. This means that companies need to invest in content that builds trust, cross-channel communications, and the technology needed to capture, qualify, and nurture prospects through the sales cycle.
That’s where SalesCandy enters the fold. SalesCandy LMS boosts sales performance by streamlining the lead management process and reducing response times. Our real estate clients can collect leads from all channels and route them to the right rep - so marketing’s hard work doesn’t go to waste.
We believe that ending the war means becoming a data-driven, unified team - crossing department lines to put the customer first. This will ensure the feedback, insights & opinion will be solely based on data & no longer on gut feelings.
Book a demo to see how SalesCandy can boost conversions, speed up the sales cycle, and just maybe, help end the war between marketing and sales.