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It’s often thought of as a one-way street – marketing feeds sales the leads and sales takes over from there. But it’s time to open the road to two-way traffic. As a career marketer, I’ll acknowledge that the foundational tenet of marketing — its literal definition — is to support and promote sales. However, at the risk of upsetting generations of salespeople, I will go out on a limb here and say that sales should always return the favor and help fuel a company’s marketing efforts. Sales should be feeding Marketing a healthy diet of insights, including these five tidbits.

News from the trenches
As marketers, we tend to lock ourselves away in our ivory towers, brainstorming great ideas and executing on them. Meanwhile, our sales counterparts are speaking to prospects and customers directly. As a result, they get the skinny on real-world challenges and what companies want from your products and services. This gives sales unique insight into what makes the customer tick. By sharing this information with marketing, we can create more tailored strategies and messaging that speak to the issues and how your company can solve them.

Nurturing those chilly leads
I’m not ratting salespeople out by saying that they focus their attention on the easy targets and tend to ignore those that seem like they’re growing cold. Instead, sales could do everyone a favor and lob these chilly leads back into marketing’s court where the magic happens. Reengagement campaigns should be in every marketer’s repertoire, just for this purpose.

Opting back in
Sometimes marketing inundates a customer or prospect with too many promotional emails, and the customer blocks or unsubscribes — thwarting sales’ ability to communicate directly. It’s important for sales to pass along general feedback and specific pointers about how prospects receive your messages to help improve your marketing efforts. Once you adjust your messaging, sales can ask customers or prospects if they can opt them back in.

Closing the loop
Marketing sends MQLs or SQLs to sales, effectively passing the baton. Closing the loop involves following that lead full circle, to a win or a loss. Sales teams should be sharing everything they learned during that journey with the marketing team. Answers to questions such as why a new customer chose your business over the competitor (or vice versa) and the key factors and business challenges that prompted the purchase will help guide further marketing campaigns. In addition, sales can share traits that can help us better refine a buyers’ persona, their interests, roles and pain points, for example.

Testimonials and references
Customer testimonials are among a Brand’s most powerful marketing tools. Sales can help build a pipeline of marketing testimonials during the sales cycle. Simply asking a customer upfront if they’ll provide a recommendation or testimonial once they are up and running sets the stage for a marketing follow-up down the road a bit.

Alignment is what matters most
There’s often some natural tension between sales and marketing, but alignment between the teams is essential. Beyond creating a more frictionless work environment, sales and marketing alignment is good for business. For example, companies with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions enjoy 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates. Furthermore, the alignment is also good for customers — a LinkedIn survey found that 71% of respondents believe they more effectively addressed their customer needs because of this collaboration.

One of the challenges that prevents the collaboration, however, is the siloed technology to manage the pipeline – typically CRM for sales and marketing automation for marketing. Although integrations are available, the experience is forced and disparate. What if sales and marketing could use the same technology to manage the customer lifecycle? In the Channel space and specifically with StructuredWeb, that’s possible. We deliver a unique and versatile automation platform that allows both salespeople and marketers to work together from lead to close, sharing critical information along the way.

So should Sales feed Marketing? Absolutely yes. Ultimately, though, rather than debate who should be doing what, the most important thing is that Sales and Marketing work together. And using a common technology can help.