How to Achieve Sales and Marketing Alignment to Help Reach Your Goals
Sales and marketing have traditionally been dealt with by different departments in most businesses. A marketing team would attempt to source leads and then send these over to the sales team to follow them up – and that was that. Frequently, and unfortunately, there is very little cooperation and understanding between the two teams.
From the perspective of business development this setup doesn’t work very well. It is like having two hands serving the same body but not knowing what the other is doing. It is far more effective to achieve sales and marketing alignment and have the two teams work closely together.
The result: smarketing!
What is smarketing?
Smarketing is what happens when a company’s sales and marketing strategies are strategically aligned towards the common goal of growth for the business, without losing the distinct functions and skills of each team. This is an important point. Smarketing isn’t about merging the sales and marketing functions or about expecting a single person to do two jobs. Rather it is about rationalising and revising the sales and marketing process into a more streamlined and efficient system.
How to implement a Smarketing strategy for your business
To illustrate how Smarketing can help you reach your goals, let’s look at the revised methodology compared to a traditional sales and marketing approach. There are six practical steps you can take to align your sales and marketing teams towards common business goals:
1) Realign your goals
Sales and marketing teams are each working towards the same goal, trying to make the same things happen. So the first step in a Smarketing methodology is to create a single sales and marketing funnel, detailing each stage of the customer journey and the influence sales and marketing functions have on the process. The funnel could look something like this:Marketing Stage: turning strangers into interested visitors
- PPC and paid search engine results
- Search engine optimisation (organic search results)
- Online advertising
- Link partnerships
- Social Media outreach
- Live streamed events (e.g. using Twitter Periscope), such as tradeshows, flash mobs etc
Sales/ Marketing crossover stage: converting visitors into qualified leads
- Email marketing
- Video content
- Landing pages, sub domains and micro-sites
- Case studies, brochures and white papers
Sales stage: converting leads into customers
- Direct customer approaches
- Creating quotes, pricing agreements and contracts
- Trial demonstrations and promotions
- Finalising orders
As you can see from the above, there is scope for significant overlap on each of these functions. For instance, salespeople should actively be encouraged to provide feedback and involvement in the marketing stage, using their direct experience of dealing with price enquiries and quotes to help shape the questions addressed in the marketing messages. At the same time, the marketing team should recognise direct continuity between their activities and the follow-up actions taken by the sales team. A closer working relationship will ensure that brand messages are tighter and that the whole process is more focused. This is why it is so important to…
2) Talk to each other
An easy way of getting the sales and marketing teams to talk to each other is to arrange a weekly Smarketing meeting. Each team has the opportunity to get feedback and request the support they need, and take a combined approach to content creation.
3) Create dynamic content
Dynamic content is material designed to move a person from one stage in the funnel to the next. Analyse your sales and marketing content and determine where it fits on your Smarketing funnel. This will help you to identify any gaps you need to fill, or content that needs to be adapted.
Do the sales and marketing teams share the same understanding of what your prospects look like? Having a shared vision of your businesses’ target audience is essential for Smarketing to work. Regular meetings give you the opportunity to share demographic and behavioural data so that there is a shared understanding and that both teams are pulling on the same rope. Are you targeting people by geographic area, by industry, by job title? Both sales and marketing teams will be able to provide input on this.
5) Don’t hoard leads
When marketing pass sales a lead it is frequently seen as a one-way street. However, not all leads are immediately ready for conversion, and the sales team are in a good position to understand which ones need more work. Rather than sitting on these leads, the sales team should be encouraged to pass them back to marketing for further nurturing. This could happen either because the lead is not yet sufficiently aware of your products and services, or because the sales team does not have the time to immediately follow up the lead.
Nurturing could be as simple as sending the lead occasional short emails to contacts to let them know you’ve been meaning to contact them and will touch base with them soon. This keeps leads ‘warm’ that may otherwise be lost This will improve the conversion rate and also lead to a greater sales focus within your team’s marketing messages.
6) Sit in on sales calls
Marketing teams can sometimes become a little bit removed from the ‘sharp end’ of direct communication with your customers and prospects. A simple way of maintaining a shared focus on people across both sales and marketing team is to have marketing personnel sit in on sales calls at least once or twice a week.
Marketers should also be able to make direct calls to prospects as marketers. Your prospects will be used to receiving sales calls, but may not so regularly receive calls from marketing teams. Make contact and request feedback on your marketing material. How was our video? What do you think of being in our nurturing program? This gives you an opportunity to forge a rapport with your prospects in a less confrontational environment than a direct sales call.
Why you should do it
The more integrated your team is, the more effectively it will work together towards common goals. This is especially true of the sales and marketing team. Despite historically being separate, they are in reality two sides of the same coin. Smarketing recognises this and brings the teams together to work on the same leads, for the same purpose. The most persuasive argument for why you should adopt this methodology is because it works. Smarketing is a tried and tested method of improving the relationships between your sales and marketing teams, enhancing communication with your prospects, and getting better results from your promotions.