The buyer’s journey has changed significantly in the last few years. For companies to keep up, they need to revise their strategies. One increasingly popular way of doing this is by getting sales and marketing to work together. Aptly named 'Smarketing,' this strategy banks on the interdependency between the two teams and aims to amplify their impact on the customer, together.
Ever since thought-leaders in the business world have moved on from the ‘marketing & sales funnel’ to the ‘lifecycle scheme’, sales and marketing have been racing each other to delight the customer. This being said, rather than compete, the best results are achieved when they work together. But how to get them on the same page? And how to make this strategy work for companies who aren’t traditional targets for these Silicon Valley playbooks?
As field service experts, we work with a lot of managers and owners who are unsure of bringing the two together. So here are five tips for aligning your sales and marketing teams that anyone can use:
According to Forbes, helping employees with self-development is key to retaining them. Take advantage of this opportunity to improve your teams’ wellbeing and educate them on the principles of smarketing. You can start with why you’re doing this and eliminate the possibility of your employees assuming things - since assuming never leads to any positive conclusions.
Changes, in general, can intimidate people if not properly understood. It’s the manager’s responsibility to make it clear that the purpose is to improve and discover new ways of thinking about delighting the customer.
Getting employees to understand that their work matters and has a direct impact on the company’s well being is the first step. This way, sales, and marketing will arrive at a new perspective on customer acquisition.
"Changes, in general, can intimidate people if not properly understood."
In the past, it was marketing’s job to create an interesting brand image and deliver as many leads as possible, while sales did the sifting through to find the qualified ones. But, the new context of digitally savvy customers has changed the status-quo, as well as the fact that thanks to the internet, there is so much more competition.
Smarketing means working towards a common goal. For example, these days, marketing needs to deliver more qualified leads, while sales teams need to use the additional information and the time cleared up by having the leads already qualified to close more deals. But if people don’t know why they’re doing the things they’re doing, how are they supposed to give it their all?
2. Write Down Your Key Terms
Following from our previous point, we strongly advise anyone trying a smarketing strategy to agree on the meaning of a few terms, first. When you’re bringing two teams together, they need to speak the same language. It’s tempting to get lost in your department’s jargon, but remember that not everyone works with HubSpot workflows every day. Not only that, but more often than not, people will be tempted to keep it to themselves if they don’t know the meaning of something since they don’t want to look bad in front of others.
Additionally, sometimes, companies don’t have perfectly-balanced sales and marketing teams. Whereas sales might be very advanced in their knowledge of trends and techniques, marketing could be made-up of newer employees and individuals with less experience.
For example, an HVAC company will usually be very good at coming up with HVAC marketing ideas, but since they’re not a traditionally sales-inclined industry, their salesperson might only be someone who takes care of commercial proposals and large contracts.
So make sure that you pin down a definition on a few key terms and a good place to start is the following:
- What is a lead?
- What makes a lead marketing qualified (MQ)?
- What makes a lead sales qualified (SQ)?
- What is the cost of acquisition for a lead?
Agree on qualification criteria like whether they’ve interacted with content on the website, their buyer profile (company size, industry, etc.) or their status as a decision-maker.
3. Set Goals That Both Teams Can Impact
Key performance indicators are, well, key for both sales and marketing. The trouble is that each team has their own metrics which they use to measure performance. For sales, it could be the number of customers they sign-up each month, while for marketing it’s website traffic.
These numbers are important for everyone, but sales don’t have much of an influence on the latter, while marketing can’t do much about the former. However, when putting together a smarketing strategy, good managers should be able to identify KPIs that both teams contribute to.
Marine Klein, Head of Marketing at Commusoft, recommends metrics such as conversion rate and average lead value. In her words, “You calculate a conversion rate by dividing the number of total leads to the number of leads that have converted. The first depends on marketing and how they create content and strategies to attract people to the brand, while the second is up to sales and how effective they are at pitching and convincing said customers.
You multiply it by 100 to get a percentage rate, then agree on a number to use as a goal. It’s a little nerdy, but it works, as long as both teams can have an influence.”
The conversion rate depends on marketing and how they create content and strategies to attract people to the brand while converting leads are up to sales and how effective they are at pitching and convincing customers." Marine Klein, Head of Marketing, Commusoft.
4. Create Common Personas
The overarching idea of aligning your sales and marketing teams is to identify what they have in common and where they differ, especially in areas that you wouldn’t expect. Personas is a good example because most managers have quite a strong idea of what the ideal customer looks like, but other employees have to share this image.
Sales, in particular, has a clear picture, as they have the advantage of interacting with potential buyers every day. This also means that they can update their mental personas regularly when they notice a trend.
Jack Sargent, Sales Manager at Commusoft, observed in his collaboration with Marine Klein: “Marketing has the statistics that come from places like Google Analytics and web traffic, quantitative data if you will, but sales have a lot of qualitative insights. How does a customer sound like? Who leaves positive reviews? What do they expect from a customer follow-up?
These are detailed questions that you can’t deduce from pure statistics, but putting everything together leads to a very accurate persona description. This way, you know exactly what you have to do to win a lead over.”
Marketing has the statistics that come from places like Google Analytics and web traffic, quantitative data if you will, but sales have a lot of qualitative insights." Jack Sargent, Sales Manager, Commusoft.
5. Report, Analyze, Optimize.
Those metrics we mentioned? They’re important, of course, but they won’t make a smidge of a difference if you just sit down once, agree on a few with your teammates, then leave them in a Shared Drive, never to be seen again. ‘Report, Analyze, Optimize’ should be your mantra when it comes to smarketing (or anything else, for that matter). Use analytics and reports to track conversion rates and associate them with campaigns and certain actions. After all, in the words of management guru, Peter Drucker: ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.’
Since you’re bringing two teams together, you’ll obviously have more people to manage so a Slack channel might start to feel a bit crowded if everyone jumps in at the same time. Short, weekly meetings are a good solution, and ‘short’ is the keyword here. Try standing meetings, but make sure everyone’s voice is heard.
At the same time, schedule more extensive updates monthly or quarterly, depending on your goals. This way, both departments get to interact with each other, bounce ideas, and form connections. It’s all about feeling like they’re one big team.
All in all, smarketing is a matter of teamwork. As long as both sides are on the same wavelength and work together towards becoming better rather than trying to outdo each other, your business only stands to gain. It’s not a strategy that shows results overnight so some leaders are put-off by the extra work in setting it up, but what it does is bring long term, sustainable growth, the kind that guarantees a stable, profitable business. The hardest part is taking the first step. Just make sure you keep these tips in mind!
Cristina Maria is a Marketing Executive at Commusoft, a job management software company, where she helps field service businesses discover the potential of digital solutions. A curious hybrid writer and marketer, you'll usually find Cristina doing what she loves most: using her work experience to produce engaging content for those looking to make the most out of their business strategies.