While saying the word ‘Smarketing’ out loud is something we believe should be made illegal, we’re prepared to embarrass ourselves and shout it from the rooftops if it helps businesses understand the importance of unifying their sales and marketing efforts.
There’s tons of research out there which serves to illustrate how business growth is dependent on alignment of the two departments, but the seminal study is from way back in 2011 – a report from the Aberdeen Group.
The key finding was this: highly aligned organisations achieved an average of 32% year-over-year revenue growth – while their less aligned competitors saw a 7% decrease.
Why am I quoting this old research at you?
Well, because there hasn’t been another study into the growth impact of departmental alignment since – not one as comprehensive and conclusive, anyway. But that’s not to say there isn’t plenty of other good research which drew a similar conclusion – check out some of the best stats here.
Why does alignment make such a difference?
The two departments – whether in-house or outsourced – are reliant on each other to be successful:
Sales need marketing to attract new leads, educate them and generally warm them up, so when it comes to the crunch, they’re receptive to being sold to.
Marketing, meanwhile, need sales to close those deals to create a return on the investment in their efforts.
So, The Million Pound question: how do you get sales and marketing on the same page?
One of the key issues getting in the way of alignment is that both departments are seen to have different goals and they’re often set as such: not in-line at all.
So, any Smarketing (sorry) alignment strategy should be built around shared goals. And if marketing is outsourced, there’s even more reason to nail this alignment strategy.
With that in mind, here’s our guide to unifying your sales and marketing teams.
1. Track customers through the funnel
You can’t argue with data. Well, you can... but you won’t win. As such, data is crucial for achieving harmony between sales and marketing.
By analysing key marketing and sales metrics, you can see where leads are coming from, at which point they’re passed to the sales team and what the subsequent close rate looks like.
In order to track customers through the funnel, the systems that marketing and sales are using must be integrated. Only with a complete picture can you begin to draw conclusions on what’s working and where there might be gaps.
Without visibility across platforms for both teams, sales are likely to blame a poor close rate on the quality of leads marketing are passing on, while marketing can equally blame sales for not being closers.
With the right software, however, proof can very much be found in the pudding. And with proof comes the opportunity for both departments to work together to improve the situation rather than just point fingers.
Smartly, many of today’s marketing software platforms seamlessly and automatically integrate with the popular customer relationship manager systems used by sales teams.
2. Define ‘lead’
Often we find that sales and marketing teams have a different idea of what a lead looks like.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if marketing are trying to bring in apples and sales want bananas, then the whole thing is likely to go pear shaped very fast.
When defining your shared goals, make sure you also define EXACTLY what a good lead looks like; this will only help marketing to create more targeted campaigns and content which, in turn, will drive the kind of leads sales want.
3. Define what success looks like
How many qualified leads need to be delivered to the sales team every month for it to be considered a good month? How quickly should sales be following up on those leads?
By defining what success looks like for both teams, there can be no disputes about the other not delivering what they promised. It’s even been suggested by some that you should formalise the commitment with a service level agreement (SLA).
While you might deem an SLA a bit too formal for your business, it’s important to have success defined by both departments so that everyone from your BDMs to your marketing execs know what they’re agreeing to and can be held accountable.
This is even more important if you outsource your marketing to an agency; that agency need to work closely with your sales team to define success from day one.
4. Monitor progress
It’s all well and good sitting down and thrashing out a success plan and KPIs with your sales and marketing directors, but it’s very easy to lose track of whether or not you’re performing against them and, more importantly, why.
Use data to monitor the progress towards your agreed goals and discuss that in a quick meeting every month.
Do the goals need to be readjusted? Should a heavier focus be put on certain tactics than others? Are some campaigns not working whatsoever?
In the business world, you’d be naive to think that the goalposts aren’t constantly moving. If you fail to keep an eye on them, chances are you’ll miss entirely.
5. Celebrate success together
In most companies, the sales department can be heard cheering and shouting when a long-awaited deal comes off.
But if the lead has been passed on from the marketing team’s efforts, you should all be celebrating together.
No more separate sales and marketing team drinks. Growth is to be celebrated together. Simple as that. In fact, this might be the most important part of any alignment strategy. “Bottoms up – here’s to the marketing team!”
Without that, department isolation will soon become a thing once again, so make sure to share those wins as a team.
Thanks for reading. The stats don’t lie – alignment between sales and marketing is crucial to growth. We discuss this further in our guide: How to Generate Leads that Close. Click below to get started.