Marketing and Sales Alignment: How to streamline lead handoff

Marketing and Sales Alignment: How to streamline lead handoff

The numbers from HubSpot’s State of Inbound study speak for themselves every year. As early as the 2017 version of this benchmark report, it was clear: 81% of the companies that described the relationship between their marketing and sales as closely aligned were convinced that their marketing strategy was effective. In contrast, only 27% of companies whose marketing and sales are not yet coordinated have this feeling. And those numbers have continued to trend upwards. Bad luck for the late bloomers? – No. There are simple steps to streamline collaboration and lead handover between marketing and sales.

Strengthen the company through SMARKETING

The close cooperation between marketing and sales, smarketing was part of the inbound evolution. Because it quickly became apparent that the inbound strategy had to be implemented in equal parts by marketing and sales in order to be successful.

Now they even go a step further. The latest participants in the inbound strategy are the company’s service departments. Here, too, customer expectations and demands have increased. Here, too, success depends more and more on meeting customer needs and providing tools. For example a customer portal. Or a knowledge base, with articles and videos on frequently asked customer questions.

Ideally, the inbound integration of the core departments in customer contact results in an entrepreneurial triad: a perfect interaction of the three departments. The goal is the ideal attraction of leads, followed by individualized lead nurturing up to the conversion and maintenance of customers. 

The established share of success of inbound sales – as a second instance in the acquisition, which put the focus on the customer and his needs – cannot be emphasized enough. But just because a collaboration is helpful doesn’t mean it automatically runs smoothly.

Hubspot sums it up well when it comes to marketing and sales: the biggest conflict between the two is the leads. The typical challenge:
Although marketing generates a large number of leads, sales only consider a small proportion to be really qualified and are therefore constantly demanding new leads.
This leads to a cycle that frustrates both marketing and sales in the long run.

However, Hubspot presents ways to break this cycle and streamline marketing and sales alignment.

Lead Criteria and the Formal Service Level Agreement (SLA)

The first step to more qualified leads should be a consistent definition of the stages a lead should go through in its customer journey. Through such lead criteria, all areas know at all times where a lead is to be classified.
The lead nurturing process from the inbound methodology maps qualification along the customer journey. The individual lead phases are based directly on the progress of the lead on the way to the customer. 

The second step should be to create a formal service level agreement. SLA (for Service Level Agreement) is often used as an abbreviation for this important, internal cooperation agreement.

  • both the obligations of marketing , e.g. to generate a certain number of qualified leads in a certain period of time. 
  • as well as the obligations of sales that relate to direct addressing, number of contacts or further qualification of leads.

ATTENTION: Be sure to define what is to be considered qualified in the individual phases . 

And another tip: All efforts to align service, marketing and sales are based on shared access to customer data and a shared overview of workflows, campaigns and conversion. This requires the right tools, above all a CRM system.

Again, we recommend HubSpot as a comprehensive tool.
All processes from marketing, sales and service can be set up on the CRM platform of the revolutionary software provider (who can be considered the founder of the inbound methodology). At the same time, there is full transparency about the development of each individual lead or customer for everyone involved. 

Involvement of a legal authority

Once the definition work is done, an objective third party should be created to monitor the agreements. Long-serving managers from both departments and, ideally, the managing director form this unit. 

If a lead is rejected by sales, this committee checks whether the rejection is justified. 

The fact that the sales department has to justify the decision to reject leads means that more effort is shown in dealing with the leads.
And marketing is also sharpening its focus on actually forwarding qualified leads to sales – in the knowledge that the lead quality is actually being checked.

The following nine points can help decide if a lead is actually qualified. If at least four criteria can be evaluated positively, the designation Qualified Lead can be chosen. 

  1. Classification of the company via SIC and NAICS code
  2. Demographic company characteristics such as location, number of employees, etc.
  3. Decision-maker or important role in the decision-making process
  4. General conditions/environment
  5. status in the decision-making process
  6. Localized and untreated problems/pain points
  7. Available budget
  8. competition in the corporate landscape
  9. urgency

If qualified leads are available using these criteria, sales must take over and establish contact in order to further qualify the leads. Success takes time. It is very unusual to get a reaction from the first contact.
The legal authority also checks whether the sales department has tried to contact a lead several times and to what extent the methods of contact were successful.

By the way: If it is not logistically or timely possible for the objective party to check every single lead, a random selection should be made from time to time in order to keep alive the possibility of locating problems in marketing and sales alignment.

Involve a digital agency

The corporate implementation of the inbound methodology – with full alignment of marketing, sales and service to pain points and customer needs – logically benefits from an early integration of the company branches. The earlier the three core departments pull together in customer contact, the greater the chance of success. 

This integration is even stronger when it is combined with the introduction of inbound software and the creation of an inbound concept. A complex process. It is important to note the crucial aspects of team dynamics, process quality and data security. 

A digital agency such as jfkcah offers specialized assistance . 
We analyze the existing basics with you, create a coherent inbound concept, help with the introduction or update of tools and with the integration of the employees involved.

At jfkcah, efforts to find qualified leads begin even before the first contact, with the definition of personas . On this basis, we develop measures for the digitization of marketing, sales and service for our clients and design individual approaches for their success. The result is lead management that aims to strategically accompany all important steps of the customer journey, from the formulation of desired customers to campaigns, sales processes and customer service. 

Have we sparked your interest in modern lead management?
Then let’s talk about it… 

Make contact!


An inbound strategy is only successful if marketing and sales go hand in hand. Only together can the right steps be taken to attract leads, interest them, further qualify them and ultimately develop them into customers.

Since the inbound methodology lives from leads, it is no surprise that dealing with them is the focus of the cooperation. Lead handover is a crucial hub of collaboration. Now that you know how to methodically optimize a marketing and sales alignment, we recommend a quick implementation.

The definition of the individual stages that a lead goes through in the customer journey is just as important as clear agreements between the individual parties.

A reasonable alignment through a combination of inbound marketing, digital sales and a common service orientation forms the basis of successful lead nurturing. It is usually worth seeking the help of a digital agency for this complex task.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.