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Sales and Marketing Not Aligning? 7 Smarketing Practices to Start Now

Written by Emily Stinson | July 22, 2019

The struggle is real! In many companies, sales and marketing may be working towards similar big-picture goals, but not aligning and working together. This is where the struggle lies. When sales and marketing don't work together, it can make achieving annual company goals super difficult. Sound familiar? That's why the term "smarketing" is so important. This is when the two traditionally independent teams come together around a unified revenue goal and strategy. The main objective is to improve the customer experience while increasing revenue.

sales and marketing | business people on upward arrow

Sales and marketing departments are traditionally two very different entities that might as well be from different planets in many companies, mostly due to their different objectives, as well as roles being misunderstood or expectations skewed. The two departments may tend to clash because, on one hand, salespeople are fast-paced with monthly quotas to meet. Meanwhile, marketing goals typically revolve around more long-term projects and the activities can be more difficult to measure

But, just because it seems easier to keep sales and marketing apart due to their differences, when these teams aren't aligned, there can be big consequences, including:

  1. Marketing delivering leads that are not a good fit for sales.
  2. The sales team has no idea where the prospects are in the buyer’s journey and leads may not be nurtured properly.
  3. Marketing doesn't get closed deal numbers from the sales team to gauge success and inform future strategies.
  4. The company loses money because the leads that have been generated aren’t being closed.

Plain and simple - this way of operating is inefficient, expensive and creates a poor experience for the prospect on the other side of these efforts too. In fact, according to HubSpot, “misalignment between sales and marketing processes costs B2B companies 10% of revenue or more per year." Additionally, "aligning your sales and marketing teams will be the largest opportunity for improving overall business performance because companies with good smarketing practices in place generated 208% more revenue.” 208% more revenue sounds pretty fantastic, right? 

 

When Sales and Marketing Align...

We asked our fearless leader, Todd Laire what it looks like when sales and marketing align and this is what he said:

Todd Laire | on sales and marketing alignment

“Sales and marketing truly align when they are focused on the same goal. Revenue! Our marketers work hard to identify the pain points of our ideal clients or buyer personas and use that pain in the form of content that solves their problems and provides resources to identify solutions. Sales aligns with marketing to give them the top recommendations of content to put on our website, social media and other platforms so when a visitor converts into a lead for sales, that sales lead is already familiar with the suggested solutions because they read (or watched) the content that marketing generated with sales' help. The closing ratio goes way up when sales can focus on solving that specific challenge the prospect is having or spend less time qualifying the prospect since the content already accomplished that for the sales rep even before the first interaction.”

Great words of wisdom, Todd!

In today’s world, sales needs marketing more than ever because the traditional sales process doesn’t exist anymore. 😱 Wait, what?! That's right, and it's not as scary as it sounds. We’ve learned through HubSpot that the sales funnel has been eliminated and the flywheel is the way of the future.

Flywheels represent a circular motion and show how customers feed growth. HubSpot's flywheel model (see below) will help identify points of friction between your customers and your employees and the handoff between internal teams (like sales and marketing) that affect your overall customer experience. The three stages of the flywheel are attract, engage, and delight. These stages are important for everyone in your company to be aware of, not just the sales and marketing team, and should influence essentially everything your business does operationally in order to be effective and successfully delight your customers.

HubSpot Flywheel | Sales and Marketing

The change in the selling process doesn't only revolve around the sales and marketing though. The consumer has also changed. Think about it - when you have a question or are looking for a solution to something, where is the first place you go?

Chances are, 99% of you said Google or Siri. And you're not alone! Most consumers are doing online research and educating themselves before making any buying decisions or before they talk to anyone in sales. And that's where content plays a major role. When marketing produces top-notch content that also ranks high on Google, your blog or video provides the information web searchers are looking for to educate their buying decision and directs them to your services. Talk about a step in the right direction for sales! 

 

All right, we've now established why aligning sales and marketing is so important, but how do you do it? Look no further than these 7 best practices to help build a revenue machine with a unified smarketing team. 

 

1) Agree on who the target buyer is and their buying process.

You can’t effectively move forward with content or setting goals without knowing who your ideal buyer is. At Laire Group, we place a high value on researching personas to create an educated marketing strategy and effective sales process. Once you know who your target buyer is, you’ll be able to determine their buying process and where they are in their journey. Keep in mind - some people may need more nurturing than others who are ready to pull the trigger right away.

 

2) Have a common goal established.

The main goal for many successful businesses is revenue. It's a measurable metric that is easily tracked. Plus, both marketing and sales can work together to achieve the revenue goal because they have the same definition of what success means (especially if there is a bonus or incentive along with it). Generating revenue is a representation of the time and skill invested by your team members moving in the same direction.

 

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3) Create a content plan together.

sales and marketing alignment | create a content plan | young creatives brainstorming with notes

Content alignment is one of the most important practices because the teams must look at everything through the eyes of the customer in order to best solve their problems. Creating content that the sales team can use to move the prospect through the sales process is also known as sales enablement.

With the two teams working together, the content produced is more likely to be relevant to the buyer. Did you know 60-70% of content created is never used because it isn’t relevant to what the buyer is looking for? Here are a few recommendations when sales and marketing come together to build a beneficial content plan:

  • Sales should give suggestions for content creation based on frequently asked questions or concerns from prospects. Instead of sellers answering the same questions time and time again, create a blog for it.
  • Hold brainstorming sessions at weekly smarketing meetings.
  • Use a shared Google document for ideas to be noted and discussed.
  • Members from the marketing team should listen to sales calls every once in a while to get ideas for future content creation.
  • Make sure everyone is active on social media and shares the company’s content to maximize your reach.

4) Decide when the lead should be handed off to sales.

Establish a set definition of a sales qualified lead within your company to determine when a lead should be given to the sales team. This reduces the chance of an unqualified lead being pushed through the sales process before they are ready. 

HubSpot says when sales and marketing teams work together, companies see 36% higher customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates. On the other hand, 79% of marketing qualified leads never convert into sales because of a lack of lead nurturing or sales representatives simply ignoring the leads marketing sends them.

By having a common understanding across the sales and marketing teams, leads can successfully make their way through the sales process and hopefully, become a customer. 

 

5) Communication is key.

Young team members meeting | communication | sales and marketing

The leadership team should conduct weekly smarketing meetings to discuss what’s working and where there may be opportunities for improvement, then determine solutions. These meetings will set clear expectations and outline the roles of each member of the team. Everyone will know what their responsibilities consist of and in turn, increase respect and productivity within the sales and marketing teams.

6) Build follow-up email templates.

Emails built with the knowledge of marketing and the voice of sales will generate more leads and re-engage old contacts. By keeping track of every interaction your email recipients have with your company and using a CRM, you’ll be able to prevent these prospects from falling through the cracks, monitor conversion rates and identify areas for improvement in your process.

 

7) Create a service-level agreement (SLA).

This is a critical step to aligning your sales and marketing teams. A service-level agreement (SLA) is a contract between two parties (like sales and marketing) where responsibilities are established and both parties have agreed on deliverables to provide to one another. According to HubSpot, "when one exists between these two departments, the agreement details the marketing goals, like the number of leads in the pipeline; and the sales activities that follow like engaging leads that were previously qualified by the marketing team".

Additionally, Business 2 Community states that it's important to have "sales and marketing leaders working together to outline these goals and responsibilities" in order to get full buy-in from both sides. It can never be a one-sided discussion. 

 

That sums it up, folks! Remember, everything we do is for the benefit of the customer. But, as an added benefit of sales and marketing alignment, you're sure to close more deals, improve your marketing ROI and sales productivity. Now, lose the individualized mindset and become a player on the smarketing team!

 

For sales and marketing to achieve their revenue goals, there have to be leads coming in. If this is something you're struggling with, inbound marketing may be the solution, and our free checklist can help. Grab your copy below! 

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Emily Stinson
Emily Stinson

Emily is passionate about learning and trying new things. She comes from a background in direct sales and knows the value of building relationships with clients. Emily played collegiate varsity golf at Appalachian State University and enjoys going back to Boone for football games in the Fall.