Mar 11, 2018
If you're working in the digital industry, the chances are you've come across the term Smarketing (otherwise known as sales and marketing). These two teams traditionally operate as separate entities in an organization. However, the modern market is changing in such a way that the time has come for these two departments to unite, align, and streamline their processes.
With so much information readily available to help jump-start the alignment process, there’s never been a better time to optimize your sales and marketing strategy to increase sales and become a collaborative professional team. We’ve compiled seven tips to level-up your sales and marketing strategy to grow your business as a cohesive unit.
The first step in aligning your sales and marketing teams is to make it easy to do so. Sales operate off the information shared to customers by the marketing department, and the marketing department uses feedback from sales teams to generate high-quality content designed to pique the interest of prospects.
To make sure that communication is streamlined between these two departments, all resources and materials should be in a place accessible to all. Cloud-based storage systems like Google Drive and Dropbox are incredibly useful and easy-to-use platforms on which to store any business-related information. Shared filing systems also allow team leaders to send relevant and timely documents with ease, optimizing process and creating more efficient teams.
The only way that cloud-based file sharing of business resources can work effectively is if the information contained in these documents is understandable and accessible to both the sales and marketing teams. The Marketing Insider Group suggests that creating a collective set of definitions will help clear up communication issues between the groups and minimize misunderstandings.
Moving beyond clarifying key terms such as “lead” and “prospect,” sales and marketing teams should also work together to identify their ideal client profile (ICP). A well-rounded ICP will help you uncover which prospects your digital marketing department should be targeting. Once both sales and marketing teams understand who the ICP is for the business, they can work together to develop marketing campaigns and sales strategies that align with this targeted audience.
Another strategy for aligning Smarketing terminology and processes is to create a sales level agreement, otherwise known as an SLA. An SLA can be used between sales and marketing teams to clear up confusion and solidify the roles of each department in the entire lead generation process. Ideally, the SLA for a business will include where teams can find relevant materials, the optimal cadence between sales and marketing teams, and a definition of what qualifies a lead as a high-potential prospect.
This may not seem like a typical business-driven strategy, but creating opportunities for personal connection between sales and marketing departments allows them to build meaningful relationships and understand each other’s point of view. This investment in personal time doesn’t necessarily mean planning week-long business retreats (although a team-building break is always a good excuse for an excursion). For example, you can establish a book club for after business hours, or create a staff non-competitive baseball team.
When team members feel understood and comfortable on a personal level with their colleagues, the easier in-office, professional communication will be between the departments. It’s important for sales and marketing teams to know that they are not in competition with one another, but that they are working towards a common goal: increasing the bottom line and building a successful business. Celebrate successes as a unit, rather than as separate departments. Make the workplace environment a stimulating, engaging, and fun place to be. By cultivating both professional and personal respect among team members and the departments themselves, Smarketing alignment will become an organic experience.
An optimized sales funnel is not only useful for generating sales, but also for developing lead generation tactics, as well. When the sales funnel is operating optimally, marketing teams can analyze available data to see where prospects are dropping out, and what content keeps them moving down the funnel.
When the sales funnel is understood and accessible to both the sales and marketing teams, individuals can create better content for lead generation while also placing at strategic touchpoints throughout the funnel itself.
When all is said and done, aligned goals are the base of an effective sales and marketing alliance. According to information from the TAS Group found on Hubspot, companies who practice good Smarketing generate 208% more revenue from their marketing efforts.
Aligning the goals of marketing and sales teams starts with connecting the data that they analyze. Consider the types of data that provide insights into marketing efforts rather than sales developments. Lead generation may be of high importance to marketing teams, but without the right sales conversions, these leads may not be of high-quality.
To begin creating common Smarketing goals, the two departments must work to sync-up their end game. Setting aside time on a monthly basis for sales and marketing teams to meet and collaborate on lead generation goals can help to increase effectiveness and efficiency for both departments.
For example, if sales are having a hard time selling a specific service or product, marketing teams can set out to create a strategy that promotes awareness and market the product or service to high-potential leads. From there, the sales team can take over to pull these leads through the online sales funnel and close some deals.
When these two teams have a mutual accountability, they rely on each other just as much as themselves to produce and share high-quality content to a targeted audience.
Without regular professional communication between sales and marketing teams, productive lead generation - and in turn, completing sales - is near impossible. Forrester Research found that only 8% of companies have strong marketing and sales alignment, so where is the issue stemming from?
A major cause of misalignment between marketers and sales professionals is a lack of regular and effective communication. How we discuss issues and create productive solutions with one another is an integral facet of an effective business, so it’s vital that these traditionally unaligned teams implement regular opportunities to share concerns and collaborate with ease. Consider setting regular meetings to review lead generation success, encourage sharing of constructive feedback between sales and marketing teams, and actively work together to establish a better rapport with high-potential leads through an optimized sales funnel strategy.
Creating branded content as cohesive teams can help with lead generation and sales development. The creation of content for both pre-funnel social selling and sales collateral can be the final push that prospects need to make a purchase decision.
For example, case studies can be developed by both marketers and sales professionals to highlight the challenges and successes of previous customers and can be used to build brand awareness with leads or to solidify a deal for a prospect who is experiencing similar struggles. By developing this content together, Tenfold suggests that consistent messaging and tone can help keep leads engaged throughout the complete funnel process.
A business is made up of multiple moving parts, all of which must work together to promote successful lead generation and business-wide success. An aligned sales and marketing strategy is a key part of helping best-in-class organizations to overcome market challenges and rise to the new age of digital sales and marketing.
As we move away from traditional marketing and sales tactics, future-forward businesses will focus on cultivating an environment that promotes Smarketing alignment to increase revenue, build a cohesive employee team, and effectively grow the business in the long-term.
However, sales and marketing alignment is no easy feat. It requires an investment in both time and resources from all involved parties and coming together on a regular basis to discuss goals, communicate concerns, and most importantly, celebrate successes. By utilizing the seven tips for marketing and sales alignment as stated above, these two teams can formulate a strong sales and marketing strategy that incorporates the strengths of both teams, using up-to-date, accessible online sales funnel information and content to their advantage.
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