Let’s face it: Marketing needs sales as much as sales needs marketing. The latter is so important, in fact, it has its own name: sales enablement. We define sales enablement as marketing’s responsibility to arm their sales counterparts with qualified leads and with the intelligence, tools, and materials they need to maximize deal velocity, value, and close rate.

Getting sales enablement right means bigger deals, higher revenues, lower costs per lead, and greater customer satisfaction. Mess it up, and you’re looking at lost revenue opportunity, longer sales cycles, and greater expense. In fact, IDC estimates that for a typical $1 billion firm, poor sales enablement results in $14 million in additional sales and marketing expenses and $100 million in lost revenue opportunity.

So how do you get it right?

Sales_robotAgree on the revenue model. This is the roadmap for how leads move through the sales funnel, from name to lead to Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) to Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) through to Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) and opportunities won or lost. Think of this as a state diagram; no lead can be in two places at any one time. Gaining consensus on how each of these lead stages are defined and how a lead progresses from one stage to another is an important step to having meaningful conversations about how marketing can really support sales.

Determine the rules of engagement. Think of this as the game plan for who is on point for communicating to specific leads. For example, if someone from the sales team goes to a networking event and meets a prospect, should marketing communicate with that person? What about leads that are marketing influenced, but not marketing sourced? (Our advice—whoever brought in the lead is responsible for communicating with that person.) Having a game plan for different scenarios not only can prevent communication breakdowns, it also is the first step for creating workflows that support the many different paths prospects might take on their buying journey.

Define sales readiness. What does a sales-ready lead look like? Act like? Sound like? This definition is the critical juncture between marketing and sales, the point at which a lead moves from marketing territory to sales land. It’s also probably the biggest single source of disagreement—and disappointment—between marketing and sales.

Know the math behind lead scoring. This is a simple equation: (behavioral) actions + (demographic) attributes = lead score. But how much weight should marketing give to different actions and what attributes matter more than others? Does it mean more if a lead signs up for a webinar, for example, than if they read your last three blog posts? What if someone comments on a post? Similarly, how do you weigh the various characteristics that make up a sales-worthy lead? Annual revenues, location, geographic footprint, number of employees, title, industry—the list of potential attributes is long. The Definitive Guide to Lead Scoring from Marketo lists more than 50 qualities to consider when scoring leads, but take heart. You just have to agree on the ones that matter the most to you and your sales team.

Up the IQ on lead intelligence. Think of this as the CliffNotes version of each lead’s history. It’s the essential guide to what your sales team needs to know to continue the conversation that marketing has begun with each and every one of them. Share too much information and your sales team is likely to go on information overload. Share too little and you run the risk of taking two steps back rather than moving forward with a potential customer.

Figure out the rules for lead assignment. Who’s catching the ball when marketing sends a lead over to sales? Figuring this out in advance will not only prevent confusion, it will also reduce the risk of dropping that ball, which is the last thing you want to do with a potential customer.

Develop a plan for lead alerts. Just as having the right information is important, so too is delivering it at the right time. A well-integrated sales and marketing technology platform can help automate those tasks. You just need to figure out which alerts need to be sent to whom and when.

Establish agreed-upon SLAs. Last but not least, document how much time each of these steps should take. How long does marketing have to qualify a lead that’s reached an optimal state of sales readiness? And how long does sales have to convert a Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) to a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)? What happens if a prospect remains qualified but not ready to talk to sales? Setting clear expectations reduces finger-pointing.

Simply put, don’t second-guess the details that matter. Work it out so you can set your sales team up for success.

Want to learn more about how to enable your sales team to be sales superheroes? Download our on-demand webinar, Building a Blueprint for B2B Sales Enablement Success, to learn more about our prescription for B2B sales enablement.