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    What is Integrated Sales and Marketing?

    The process of generating awareness in a prospective customer and converting that person into an actual customer who buys your products involves both the marketing and sales teams within a company.

    However, in many companies these two groups do not work together as an integrated team to quickly and smoothly move prospects through the decision-making process to buy your products.

    Traditionally, the marketing department is responsible for generating leads and handing them over to the sales department. Frequently very little information about a lead is made available to the sales team -- either because very little data has been captured or there is no system for marketing to share that data with sales. At the same time, the sales tracking system in many companies is not able to share information with the marketing department.

    A company has an integrated marketing and sales program when the sales and marketing teams work together to take a prospective customer from initial awareness through to becoming a loyal customer.

    For most companies this integrated approach has two components:

    1. The marketing and sales teams convey the same corporate brand and product positioning messages throughout the awareness-to-decision process. This requires the company's senior marketing and sales executives to work together and make sure everyone understands how to deliver the company's messages.

    2. Data about leads, prospects, and customers is managed with a unified database that is used by both the marketing and sales teams. For example, the marketing department normally collects contact information about a lead and identifies the source of the sales lead, then passes the lead to the sales team. In a basic integrated environment, the salesperson can see the contact and source information about the lead that marketing captured.

    However, this basic approach to integrated sales and marketing can be expanded by capturing more information and making sure it's available to both the sales and marketing teams.

    For example, imagine the marketing organization having data about which Web pages each lead visits, which newsletter links they clicked, and the answers to questions on Web forms. Then, make this marketing information available to the salesperson handling the lead -- and make it available in real-time.

    This integrated process works the other way, too.

    As the salesperson updates a prospect's records, that new data is made available to the marketing team in real-time, as well. This means that marketing campaigns can reflect up-to-the-minute data from field salespeople.

    When all data about leads, prospects, and customers is available to both the marketing and sales teams in real time, the company has a truly integrated sales and marketing information system. This is very difficult to accomplish with traditional sales force automation software, now called customer relationship management (CRM) software. This is because those products are limited to just managing sales contact data, as well as sending sales letters and e-mails from the salesperson. Typical sales force automation products include GoldMine and ACT!, and the sales force automation service

    What's needed to overcome the limitations of sales force automation software, is an integrated suite of applications:

    • Campaign & lead management
    • Web content management
    • E-mail newsletter
    • Sales force automation

    Companies such as Seibel and Pivotal provide software products, and Coravue provides an online service, to accomplish this.

    Whether you use a software product or an online service, an integrated sales and marketing system will help you capture more qualified leads and turn them into loyal, profitable customers.

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