There’s a persistent challenge in sales and marketing alignment that can be a real thorn in the side for many customers.

This problem is known as “the handoff gap.”

You know what we're talking about, right? It's that oh-so-awkward transition when a customer, who's been nurtured and cared for by the marketing team, is handed over to sales — and suddenly, it's like they've been teleported to a new planet where their history is irrelevant. Like they've been tossed into the Twilight Zone where they're merely a number in a queue.

Sound familiar? You’ve probably experienced that yourself as a customer! We all have…

Common or not, it’s a problem that needs to be solved, for the customer’s sake and your company’s.

We're going to deep-dive into this issue from both sides of the coin — why it matters to marketing, and why it's just as crucial for sales. Are you ready for a deep dive into sales and marketing alignment (or rather, misalignment) and how it affects the customer experience?

Let's figure out how to eliminate that pesky handoff gap and transform the way your customers experience your company.

Lost in Translation: The Unseen Impact of the Handoff Gap

Picture the handoff gap as a hiccup in the customer journey.

And the repercussions of that hiccup aren’t just frustrating — they can be detrimental to the relationship between you and your customers. So why is this gap so irritating, from your customer’s perspective?

For prospects, the marketing-to-sales handoff isn't just about moving from one department to another — it's about continuing a relationship they've started with your organization. When the handoff is disjointed, it's like meeting someone for the first time…over and over and over again.

It feels like the company doesn't care enough to remember who they are, what they've expressed interest in, or any concerns they've already voiced.

Your customers’ time is a valuable commodity. Repeating information they've already given, explaining preferences they've expressed, or revisiting issues they've raised in the past is mind-numbing and annoying. And asking your customers to start over when you pass them off to sales sends the message that your business doesn't value their time, which can be a deal-breaker.

The handoff gap can also make your company appear inefficient and disorganized. If marketing and sales teams aren't communicating, what does that say about your organization as a whole? Customers might wonder, "If they can't even coordinate internally, how well can they deliver what they're promising?"

Why the Handoff Gap Matters to Marketing

For marketers, the handoff gap can feel like a gaping abyss that swallows up all of the hard work and careful planning that goes into developing targeted campaigns.

Marketing teams aren’t creating flashy advertisements or catchy slogans just for fun. Their primary role is generating interest and nurturing relationships with prospective customers — with the ultimate goal of converting those prospects into loyal clients. When the baton is passed and the sales team drops it, marketers often feel like their efforts have gone to waste. That’s not a recipe for harmony and alignment.

The handoff gap has implications for marketing's brand stewardship role. Consistency is the key to delivering your company’s promise, tone, and message. If the customer journey becomes disjointed during the transition from marketing to sales, it undermines your integrity and can have negative ripple effects on your reputation. If you have a well-coordinated, seamless transition, your customer's perception of your company can stay consistently positive — which reinforces trust and keeps your marketing team smiling.

Here are a few things marketing teams can do to ease sales friction and close the handoff gap:

  • Get buy-in: Your marketing team has a specific inbound approach, and that method can complement your sales strategies. Gather the sales team’s support and align your approaches so you can identify pain points, build trust, and provide useful content to your audience.
  • Use the best tools for the job: Automate administrative tasks by using marketing and sales tech for lead intelligence, booking meetings, chatting with customers, tracking buyer behavior, and managing digital assets.
  • Measure and learn: Continual learning and improvement are vital, so analyze your handoff process to identify and address friction points.

What Your Sales Team Can Do to Improve the Handoff

A poor handoff forces salespeople to spend valuable time playing catch-up or detective work to understand a prospect's history, rather than focusing on strategic selling.

To address the handoff gap, sales teams can:

  • Define the process: Together with the marketing team, create a clear handoff protocol that specifies when and how leads will be passed from marketing to sales. This could include predetermined triggers or actions that a lead takes that signal that the person is ready for sales contact.
  • Provide feedback: Provide feedback to marketing regarding the quality of the leads and any missing information you need for effective follow-up. This feedback loop can improve the lead qualification process over time.
  • Train and coach: Sales managers should coach sales reps on how to leverage the information and tools available to them, so they can understand what’s happening with leads before they hit the sales team’s desk.
  • Establish a Service Level Agreement (SLA): Choose a mutually-agreeable objective (like increasing revenue by gaining new customers) and then create an SLA that spells out the responsibilities and strategies of each team, so you can move toward that goal. Review your progress regularly and exchange feedback so you can continuously improve.

The Future is Frictionless: Showcase's Solution to the Handoff Gap

The handoff gap is a party crasher no one invited — but we've got good news for you! Showcase Workshop can be a powerful tool for aligning your sales and marketing teams.

Our platform provides your sales reps with a full dossier on each customer including their likes, dislikes, what they had for breakfast...okay, maybe not the last one, but certainly every piece of marketing goodness they've soaked up. Say sayonara to handoff friction and hello to seamless customer interactions with Showcase. Sign up for your free trial today.