Build Leads First, Hire Salespeople Second, “SMarketing” Third

by Gregg Crystal Feb 12, 2015

Hubspot SMarketing Funnel with Buyer's Journey

Growing your business is a three step process:  

Step 1:  Focus your energy on developing passive digital strategies that generate high quality leads rather than focusing on traditional sales methodology.  Invest money in high quality content creation and integrated SAAS (service-as-a-service) products before hiring salespeople.

Step 2:  Hire salespeople only once your business has a surplus of high quality leads (people who repeatedly opt-in to your digital content strategies).

Step 3:  Close customers and repeatedly outperform expectations.  Under-promise, over-deliver, rinse, and repeat.  Be careful - this simple strategy has high potential to increase margin.  

In an earlier post we focused on Step 1.  We explained the futility of trying to expand your business with a new salesperson while neglecting what should really come first - a digital inbound marketing strategy.  In this post we are going to focus on Step 3 - we’ll cover recommendations for Step 2 in a future post.  For now I want to introduce you to the concept of “SMarketing,” (a catchy pneumonic that stands for Sales and Marketing) strategies designed to properly leverage the strengths of both departments towards customer satisfaction and revenue.  

So you took our advice and stopped cold-hiring new salespeople.  You contracted with an inbound content creation team and revamped your digital presence.  Now the leads are starting to come in.  That’s not going to change because your content lives in the cloud.  It’s going to keep bringing in leads for the cost of an internet connection.  You’re set up for success - whew!  Now it’s finally time to think about hiring a full-time salesperson so you can get back to what you do best - customer deliverables.  What’s next?  

In a word:  integration.  Once you find the right salesperson you need to integrate him or her around your marketing efforts, your SAAS platform, and the existing database of variable quality leads in your inventory.  This is “SMarketing.”  

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Here are five strategies to SMarket your product and set your sales hire up for success:

Strategy 1:  Rely on objective data.  Set a revenue target, determine required sales to meet it, and work backwards from there.  

Example:  Monthly revenue target:  $100,000.  Sales required to meet it:  10.  Lead to customer conversion rate:  2%.  Leads required to make sales:  500.  Visitor to lead conversion rate:  2%.  Website visitors required to meet projected sales goals:  25,000.  

Strategy 2:  Orient marketing and sales departments around the same SMART goals defined by data.  

Example SMART Goal for your SMarketing team:  “we want to increase site visits by 50%(1000 per month to 1500 per month) for our new product launch by March 10, 2015).  Site visits are a traditional marketing role that needs to relate to a traditional sales role (revenue).  If revenue is your goal then it should be common to both marketing and sales.    

Strategy 3:  Implement “closed-loop reporting.”  This is a fancy way of saying “talk to one another.”  Evaluate progress periodically and adapt to match agreed-to expectations.   

Strategy 4:  Establish a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between marketers and salespeople.  Let your marketers focus on meeting visitor to lead conversion rates while salespeople focus on lead to customer conversions.  

Example SLA from Marketers:  “Marketing will achieve 10,000 monthly visitors and convert 10% of visitors into sales quality leads (SQLs).  Marketing will target lost leads in two campaigns and re-deliver to sales for a second attempt before discarding.”

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Example SLA from Sales:  “Sales will achieve a 25% lead to customer conversion rate.  Sales will work at least 50% of the total leads generated by marketing and will return those marketing quality leads (MQLs) not yet ready for sales to the marketing team.  Sales will use the SAAS platform to thoroughly research leads prior to contact.”

Strategy 5:  Define the lead handoff process.  Be specific about who owns which part of the process and where handoffs between sales and marketing personnel takes place.  

Hubspot SMarketing Funnel Lead Ownership

Typically, marketers own visitors, leads, and MQLs, while salespeople own SQLs, Opportunities, and Customers.  Use your SAAS platform to automatically categorize certain types of visitors into the appropriate category.  Focus sales efforts on your best leads.  If you don’t have an integrated software platform and a digital content strategy, invest in one prior to wasting time and money with salespeople.  

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