WHAT IS SMARKETING? CAN SALES AND MARKETING INTEGRATION DRIVE GROWTH?
Your sales and marketing teams both share the same goal of generating effective and sustainable growth, and yet they often work independently of one another. In fact, sometimes the relationship between sales and marketing looks less like a partnership and more like a rivalry.However, with businesses who align their sales and marketing found to generate as much as 208% more marketing revenue than those who don’t, a business that fosters a culture of collaboration will soon see the positive outcomes of sales and marketing integration.
Dubbed ‘smarketing’ by HubSpot, here’s how sales and marketing integration can drive growth.
What is Smarketing?
Sales and marketing integration turns your sales team and your marketing team into a single, cohesive unit with one plan and one accelerated growth outcome.
Many sales and marketing teams establish their KPIs and targets independently of one another, and with no communication between them. With two teams striving to meet different targets, and using different measurements for success, sales and marketing misalignment results in as much as 79% of leads never converting.
Without collaboration, your teams function more like silos, working against one another and losing sight of the customer as they jostle for position. This often results in wasted resources that could have benefited both teams.
Smarketing takes a customer-centric approach that brings marketing and sales together for the best results.
The key challenges facing Sales and Marketing teams
There are many upsides to sales and marketing alignment, however there are also many barriers facing teams as they try to get on the same page. See below five challenges facing marketing and sales teams as they try to align.
1. Difficult marketing to sales handoffs
2. Systems misalignment
3. Inconsistent data
4. Unaligned goals and uncoordinated MQL hand-offs to sales
5. Not actively pursuing account based marketing
Sales and marketing can work well together! More often than not, alignment is within reach and it just takes a little bit of learning and listening, followed by consistent action, to achieve. Throughout the rest of this blog we will attempt provide the solutions for business facing these challenges.
Key benefits of sales and marketing integration (Source HubSpot)
- 27% faster three-year profit growth.
- 208% more revenue from marketing efforts.
- 36% higher customer retention rates.
- 65% of businesses with a documented sales and marketing SLA see higher return on investment from their inbound marketing initiatives.
Guide customers through the buyer journey with sales and marketing integration
Every customer follows a predictable process before making a purchase.
Known as the ‘buyer journey’, brands who adopt a smarketing approach to their content strategy will lead people through this process to convert them into customers:
This is when a customer realises that they have a problem that they need to solve, or a goal that they wish to pursue. Your brand needs to be able to understand the challenge that your customer is facing in order to offer them solutions.
- How do buyer's describe their goals or challenges?
- How are your customers educating themselves on this problem or goal?
- What are the consequences for your customer if they don’t solve this problem or achieve this goal?
- Are there any misconceptions that the customer has about addressing the goal or challenge?
- What makes your customers decide it’s worth pursuing?
Now that your customer has identified their problem or goal, they will begin researching solutions. To guide your them towards a purchase, your team will need to understand customer needs and priorities.
- Where is the buyer in their budget setting process?
- How urgently does the customer need to find a solution?
- When does the solution need to be implemented?
How can you make it easy for the customer to find a solution?
Now that you customer has worked out what the solution is to their problem, they begin researching their options and comparing brands so that they can make an informed purchasing decision.
It’s at this point that your smarketing team should be looking at what influences your customer’s decision.
- What information and evidence is your customer searching for to make an informed decision?
- How can the customer experience your solution before making a purchase? (Free trial?
- How can you reduce the customer’s risk? (Money-back guarantee?)
How can you back your claim? (Testimonials? Case studies?)
Smarketing requires content collaboration
How can marketing teams leverage sales to drive growth?
Sales teams possess a lot of resources that can help marketers produce content that generates leads and convert such as:
- FAQ-related blogs
- Interview videos for social media
- Webinars and live content featuring sales reps
In order to make data driven decisions for the best ROI, marketers should ask sales teams for input and valuable insights:
- Purchasing behaviours and intentions based on sales feedback.
- Customer priorities and interests to improve 1:1 messaging across an omnichannel strategy.
- Market research to drive customer-centric marketing
How can sales teams use marketing to drive sales?
- Customer case studies
- Product related eBooks
- Events (experiential marketing)
- Internal content for calls and demos
- Content marketing to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
- Content for customer engagement and lead nurturing on social media
- NPS surveys to gauge customer-loyalty
How to implement a smarketing approach to drive growth
1. Promote collaboration between sales and marketing
You need to establish a culture of open communication and feedback within your business. Sales teams should be able to speak openly about the quality of leads generated by the marketing team.
If your marketing team understands which leads are more likely to convert, they can focus their efforts on generating those leads, rather than wasting time, money and resources attracting the wrong leads.
Marketing teams should be able to ‘ride shotgun’ on sales calls to help close leads. Internal content generation and reference materials are a great way of helping sales reps improve their sales.
The more your team collaborates, the better they’ll get at working as a team. Schedule a weekly meeting for your team to track campaign progress and share wins, losses, news and updates.
The sharing of results will set sales and marketing up as a team rather than as rivals.2. Mutual accountability and joint ownership of results
Eliminate subjectivity and outline areas for improvement by backing all claims with data. When KPIs and accountabilities are tracked, there’s no room for denial.
Here are some examples of accountabilities that you could set for your sales and marketing teams.
Traffic: How many people have visited your website or a specific page?
Leads: How many leads are generated? How many of those are quality leads?
Conversions: How many enquiries have been made? How many leads have converted?
Leads managed: Of the leads generated, how many were actually touched on by the sales team?
Closed leads at each deal stage: Each sales enablement deal stage is a conversion point which can be measured over time. The goal should be to increase that conversion-rate, especially in the ‘deals won’ stage.
This data not only reflects the performance of the sales team, but indicates the quality of leads generated by marketing.
It’s best to establish agreed-upon accountabilities so that sales and marketing can align their metrics. This will promote evidence-based discussion for improvement.
3. Develop a Smarketing SLA (service level agreement)
An internal SLA is a great way of documenting accountabilities, goals and KPIs for a healthy and transparent relationship between sales and marketing.
You should keep your language simple and focused on financial metrics for your business. Establish a dashboard or updatable wall graphic so that everyone can track their performance and achievements.
Remember: When tracking achievements, quality is more important than quantity. Make sure you don’t just track how many leads are generated, you also need to track the quality of those leads.
What makes a good SLA?
- Summary or overview
- Functional owners & contacts
- Repercussions should goals not be met
- Conditions of cancellation.
Test your SLA on a small sample of staff to make sure it suits your business and covers all business functions. This allows you to adjust for any issues before launching to the wider group.
Keeping your data highly transparent is the key to a successful smarketing implementation. A clear SLA that outlines the relationship between sales and marketing will promote an open atmosphere with clearly defined expectations, boundaries and goals