It’s the age old debate, marketing move heaven and hell to get the leads but sales aren’t prepared to work them? Or is it that sales are busting their guts to engage with the leads but leads they’re given are weak?

Which ever side of the fence you sit on, clearly there’s an inherent divide between sales and marketing. Very few people work in both sales and marketing in their careers, so how can they understand and empathise with one another? Aren’t we all just biased towards what we are familiar with? Aren’t we just going to put our own goals and KPI’s first?

One thing is clear, companies that succeed at sales and marketing alignment do far better than those that don’t. You can increase revenue by 208% just by getting sales and marketing on the same page.

Smarketing is the alignment of the Sales team and Marketing team by providing an environment for continual feedback, shared input and common KPI’s. Smarketing takes a customer first point of view, putting in Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) to ensure both teams are accountable and have the customer at the heart of everything they do.

Why is Smarketing Important?

Sales and Marketing (or “smarketing”) alignment will never be perfect. Doug Davidoff calls this the “chasm”. Marketing work to meeting their lead goals, but of course that doesn’t mean every lead is ready to buy right now so sales will always have their work cut out to weed through the Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL’s).

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  • 60% of global respondents in a LinkedIn survey believed that misalignment between Sales and Marketing could damage financial performance. (LinkedIn, 2020)

  • 90 percent of sales and marketing professionals point to a number of disconnects across strategy, process, content, and culture. (LinkedIn, 2020)

  • Only 7% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were very high quality. (HubSpot)

  • 43% of sales and marketing people said “lack of accurate/shared data on target accounts and prospects” was the biggest challenge when it comes to aligning sales and marketing departments. (InsideView, 2018

  • 30% of marketers ranked “consistent use of systems” as their top need from their sales teams, and 22% said “better lead follow-up.” (InsideView, 2018

What can Sales do for Marketing?

Sales are on the front line, speaking to customers every day. Because of this sales have a vault of knowledge about their customers, their needs, their friction. An aligned Sales and Marketing team should be providing a continuous feedback loop so marketing can further develop the buyers journey through content development and campaign improvements. Sales should be providing things such as:
  • Customer feedback
  • Customer pain points
  • Product fit
  • Missing content pieces
  • Content ideas

What can Marketing do for Sales?

A well developed Marketing team should focus on the buyers journey from awareness to decision and beyond. Marketing should be assisting Sales by:

  • Creating content specific to customer pain points
  • Feedback on current campaigns
  • Develop the ideal customer profile or buyer personas
  • Create assets for the sales team

4 Steps to Aligning Sales & Marketing

Here are 4 steps I’ve found will allow you to engage the sales and marketing teams in a meaningful and impactful way.

  1. Shared Goals
  2. Regular Smarketing Meetings
  3. Be open and transparent
  4. Content Collaboration

1. Shared Goals

It is essential that sales and marketing are aligned behind the same goal. This is usually a revenue based goal but it can be anything that the business is focused on.

Studies show how most Sales and Marketing teams are misaligned with each other:

Besides quota attainment, how else are your Sales teams measured?

Sales KPIs- The Keen Smarketer

How are your Marketing teams measured?

Marketing KPIs- The Keen Smarketer

Service level agreements can be set at each phase of the revenue cycle. Putting this in writing  early on is important so marketing can show how and why they’re serving MQL’s, and Sales can show how and why they’ve engaged with that lead. In this way Sales and Marketing can jointly review leads to find areas for improvement and to ensure each team is holding up their end.

2. Regular Smarketing Meetings

Smarketing meetings should be an opportunity to come together to discuss problems and work collectively on solutions. They should team focused and not work groups (see more). In other words, don’t invite everyone in both teams just for the sake of it and don’t get the C-level execs involved. Smarketing meetings are about teams getting together to get things done not report on department KPI’s or goals.

Smarketing meetings should be a safe and open environment where all issues are fair game and anyone can raise their concerns or ideas without criticism. Try a simple agenda like:

  • Raise concerns
  • Brainstorm solutions
  • Assign tasks

But be diligent with your time, Smarketing meetings should have a set length, say 30 minutes, try and get through as many ideas as possible but ensure you’ve prioritised and set tasks by the end of the meeting so everyone knows who is accountable for what and by when. This way both teams come away with deliverables and both teams need to take action in order to move things along. This will create a sense or shared accountability over the long term. And it’s not just marketing that are there to serve the sales team, the marketing team may well have things they need. Quite often the sales team has more inside knowledge about the customer than anyone else. Most sales teams actually produce far more content than you might think, it just doesn’t normally see the light of day beyond sending it to the customer.

3. Be open and transparent

Ultimately aligning Sales and Marketing can be a painful process, especially if they are well established teams and this activity hasn’t been done before. But it doesn’t have to be a negative experience, making a safe and open space for feedback is essential, so to is up holding accountability. Companies that give an open forum for feedback often do better and hold more positive views about their peers.

By providing a structured forum to discuss specific feedback with tangible action items gives a sense of safety, that all ideas  are valid and warranted.

You can take this a step further by having a review committee who can take leadership of Smarketing meetings and content collaboration. They can also serve as a lead review tribunal who can periodically check SLA’s are being met.

4. Content Collaboration

65% of marketing content goes unused by sales. Let that sink in a bit, Marketing normally creates content without input from Sales or direct feedback from customers. And so the content doesn’t seem useful to Sales or have an impact on closing deals. This is a good sign that your Sales and Marketing teams are misaligned. 

The best thing you can do to encourage content collaboration is making action items visible and trackable. Using a project management tool that everyone has access to can  enhance collaboration and encourage idea sharing.

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