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In many organizations, marketing departments exist to help sales teams find leads. That's why marketing and sales alignment is top priority for many CMOs. For marketing teams to provide the most value in a company, however, they need to do more than just to deliver leads that the sales team can nurture or follow-up on.

Recently, we have seen an increase in sales-focused insight communities that are run by marketing departments seeking a deeper and more immersive understanding of their customers. And in some cases, CMOs and their teams are engaging both their customers and their sales force through scalable insight communities that allow for learning and sharing between these constituencies.

Marketing can have a more significant role in enabling sales in the organization. Here are three articles that showcase what marketers need to do to truly help sales:

  1. Clarify with sales what 'qualified leads' mean.

Start by getting both of your teams together and coming up with a unified definition for a qualified lead. Give your sales team the chance to let marketing know what they would like to see in a lead (after all, they're the ones who understand which leads are more likely to buy), and let your marketing team work on the logistics from there.

Once marketing knows what your ideal prospect profile looks like, they can use a tool like marketing automation to set up lead scoring and grading rules, which will automatically and objectively qualify leads based on the specifications you set. A lead score will ensure that leads are showing enough interest in your company, while a lead grade will determine how well they match your ideal profile. Together, these two factors will indicate how qualified a lead is - and your sales team will be much happier knowing that the leads they're getting from marketing are being subjected to standards that they help set up. - Adam Blitzer,

Tweet this: To align #marketing and sales, step 1 is to agree on what makes a qualified lead. See @visioncritical roundup:

  1. Offer your product and customer expertise.

Sometimes, salespeople need to call a lifeline during the sales process. Marketers usually have a deep and nuanced understanding of your company's products and services -- not just your differentiators, but where you fit into your industry as a whole. This perspective can go a long way in the sales process.

Marketers -- even the executives -- should be available to help sales reps close deals. And sales reps value this help. For instance, one of my sales reps recently needed our CMO's insight on multi-touch revenue attribution. Within one hour, the CMO emailed the sales rep with an explanation that could be handed down to the prospect, and also offered to write a blog post on the subject in the near future. The response helped the sales rep to close the deal -- at the end of the month with a quota looming, no less. - Ryan Neu, HubSpot Inbound Marketing blog

Tweet this: Besides leads, what sales needs from #marketing is expertise. @ryanRneu's article part of this @VisionCritical roundup:

  1. Provide great content.

The role of the sales person is changing from that of explaining product features to acting in more of a consulting role. "Buyers are really looking for consultants by the time they reach out to a sales person," said Andy Zimmerman, CMO of Brainshark. "From a marketing and sales alignment perspective, that means more and more of what I refer to as just-in-time learning. We're seeing marketing play more of a role in developing content for specific sales situations, for example, content to help the sales person engage with a prospect in a specific industry or role."

Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer for Corporate Visions, added: "Many companies are starting to blend the conversation and messaging training with sales skills training. Marketing is moving from the idea that they are responsible for campaign content to conversation content. - Kim Zimmermann, Business 2 Community

Tweet this: The next frontier in aligning #sales and #marketing? It's #content, according to @KimZim2764. See:

How is your company using customer insight to support sales initiatives? Let us know in the comments.

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