First things first, if you haven’t already checked out our article on WHY you need sales & marketing alignment, which we will refer to as smarketing (like our friends from HubSpot) from here forward, give that a read first.
Next, we’ll get right down to it and help you get started with your strategy by outlining a few smarketing best practices.
Commit to Smarketing From Top-Down
Achieving complete smarketing success is a large commitment and will take some time and effort. The larger your organization, the more of a process it will be and potentially the more time it may take. Therefore, the initial commitment to and passion for this alignment must come from the very top.
This should be a high priority to the CEO, and they should take ultimate ownership over ensuring progress is made. Why, you ask?
- 209% higher revenue from marketing-generated leads (Marketo)
- Win more customers – 67% higher probability that marketing-generated leads will close (Marketo)
- Keep those customers – 36% higher retention rates (MarketingProfs)
- 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth for B2B (SiriusDecisions)
The next step is to get full buy-in from the sales and marketing leadership, Director-level first, down through mid-management. Achieving the right level of commitment to this new concept may involve making a few changes in personnel. Some companies choose to bring in an additional operational oversight executive who has experience with these types of alignment efforts to help get everyone on the same page. Some have chosen to combine their sales and marketing under a single executive. No matter how it’s done, the important thing is that no matter who an employee goes to within the company, the language, information, and enthusiasm around smarketing is the same.
Establish & Track Combined Smarketing Efforts
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable and trackable means of evaluating the success of a company or department. Goals and specific steps toward attainment are set in advance, then everything is tracked against those agreed-upon metrics. Typically, KPIs start at the top with everyone contributing to the overall success of the company. Then, they are divided into each department, which is then distilled down into each individual employee contribution. Sales and marketing are still very different and equally important departments; however, in order to achieve smarketing success, you’ll also need to have a set of joint KPIs. This ensures that both departments are aiming for the same goals yet have their own individual contributions to help get there. The agreement of set KPIs is called a Service Level Agreement, or SLA. Here’s what our SLA looks like.
Typically sales and marketing operate within the sales funnel. A key smarketing best practice is to ensure both teams are working within the same funnel with a single, agreed-upon customer journey and unified messaging. [Click here to read about what HubSpot has to say about it.] The teams could work together to come up with email templates for sales to utilize that are consistent with content being pumped out by marketing. This allows for a single narrative for your customer and combined, more consistent resources for your employees.
Time to Get Acquainted
Often times, in companies where marketing and sales are misaligned, there tends to be tension that may create an even larger gap between the departments. You’ll hear things like, “Marketing sent me this terrible lead, the customer had no idea who we are or why I was calling,” or, “I handed over a super-hot lead to sales, but nobody followed up.”
The first step in creating understanding and removing tension is getting everyone together to realize that you’re literally all on the same team, trying to accomplish the same things. You’re both in it for your customers and to generate revenue for the company (and yourselves). You’re all human, you all make mistakes and experience wins.
One of the best ways to break down some walls and allow your sales and marketing teams to get to know each other is to host events specifically for them. Some options are to provide a company-hosted happy hour, a combined lunch, or an organized team-building event. The important thing is to get them outside of the typical work environment, together, with the ability to casually chat and get to know each other. This isn’t a one-time effort either. You should provide regular, recurring situations that allow your sales and marketing teams to spend time together and blow off steam. This not only allows everyone to see each other as people instead of entities but also creates avenues for individuals to build relationships. They are therefore also able to create communication channels between the two departments when they have questions during work hours.
True Smarketing Collaboration Requires Excellent Communication
Another smarketing best practice is clear, concise communication. The idea here is to disperse the agreement, understanding, language, and effort that management has agreed upon, down into the rest of the two departments. First, host a smarketing kick-off meeting that will introduce the core idea and concepts around your new strategy. You should cover the reasons you are making this a priority as well as exactly what it looks like to the company and what it means for each individual contributor.
Following this, you need to create simple ways for everyone to collaborate and communicate between teams. Allow salespeople the ability to communicate new information they learn from customers. Ensure marketers know how to get a hold of someone in sales when they have a question and vice versa.
Keep sales up to date on all marketing campaigns and offers by keeping the marketing calendar visible to everyone in the department. Have marketing provide talking points to sales around specific offers or campaigns to help drive home the intended message.
Keeping information flowing freely back and forth between the departments is going to make both teams more successful, reduce tension, and ensure your customers are their primary focus.