Sales and marketing are the pillars of a business. They feed into each other and keep a business alive. But what happens when they are disjointed? The sales pipeline develops cracks through which leads and customers trickle out.
Smarketing is a way of fusing your sales and marketing divisions so that they work in alignment. It aims at building closer coordination between teams through transparent communication and interwoven processes.
A Marketo research found that if sales and marketing teams are hands in glove, the lead closing rate improves by 67% and lead acceptance by 108%. In terms of revenue from marketing-generated leads, you can see an increase of 208%.
Are you excited to know more about smarketing? Read on.
What is Smarketing?
Smarketing doesn’t mean creating a new department or hiring new people. It is just a concerted effort to bring your sales and marketing teams on the same page so that they communicate and collaborate better.
If you’re looking for a formal definition for the term, here goes:
Smarketing is the alignment of sales and marketing teams to drive them to a common goal through an integrated approach. It is achieved through a number of steps, including closed-loop reporting and joint team meetings.
Should sales and marketing be combined?
Traditionally, sales and marketing are considered isolated purposes with different goals. But in truth, they should work in tandem since their common target is to increase revenue for the company. A better alignment between the two can be achieved if they are combined.
Here’s why smarting is a smart thing:
Buyers Have Become Less Accessible
New-age customers educate themselves and rely on recommendations, referrals, and self-discovery to identify brands with whom they want to engage.
A Forrester research found that customers read 11.4 pieces of content before approaching a seller. They don’t trust brands as much as they did.
Hence, all forms of self-promotion and disruptive advertising are being shunned. If sales and marketing teams don’t collaborate end-to-end, this new buyer breed will remain an enigma for brands.
According to Gartner, the sellers’ influence on customers’ buying journey is decreasing. B2B buyers are spending only 17% of their time in interacting with vendors.
This is because there is a spate of product information available on the Internet, which buyers use for product discovery and research. Customers don’t feel the need to consult sales reps.
So sellers have a narrow window of opportunity in which they need to impact a customer’s purchase decision. If the combined power of smarketing is unleashed in this sweet spot, the chances of making a sale are strong.
Buying decisions have become hard
A typical B2B buyer group involves six to 10 decision-makers, starting from executive to the C-suite. They gather information about products, vendors, and buying options (which are burgeoning every minute) by independent research. Often, they work at cross-purposes and find it difficult to arrive at a mutually satisfying decision.
In fact, 77% of B2B customers claim their last buy was challenging. 90% of them say that they have to back-track and revisit past decisions at least once to arrive at a final answer. The entire process becomes time-consuming and inefficient.
By adopting smarketing, brands can give a consistent message to buyers, which can make their buying decision a no-brainer. Customers are more likely to trust such brands and return for high-value purchases.
How do you align sales and marketing?
The alignment of sales and marketing not only improves sales conversion, but it also boosts lead generation and targeting. Better productivity will keep your customer-facing teams motivated. Since happy employees produce happy customers, smarketing will be a win-win for all.
We have compiled five simple basic steps to give you a head start into smarketing.
Perform a tools audit
You need to take a deep look at tools and systems that your sales and marketing teams are using individually or jointly. Try to answer the following questions:
- Are they using disparate systems that don’t give them a transparent look into what the other team is doing?
- Is a lot of manual effort wasted in migrating data from one tool to another? What is the leak percentage?
- How well-fused are your sales and marketing pipelines?
If you’ve answered “yes” for any of these questions, you will need to invest in a few collaborative tools, which include a CRM, a project management solution, and a unified dashboard.
By means of these automated tools, your processes will become transparent, reporting will be easier, and human errors will be minimized.
Educate co-dependent teams
While your sales and marketing teams might be experts in their domain, how well do they understand the roles and challenges of the other team? Are they willing to cooperate and support one another?
Often, marketing teams will turn over half-baked leads to sales. Since the leads are not sales-ready, they fizzle out and the sales team is left dejected. Similarly, sales folks can put up unrealistic targets for marketers. This again has no productive output and a general feeling of discontentment is created.
To avoid these issues, act proactively and educate co-dependent teams. Have a joint team meet and imbibe a culture of sharing in your company. Once smarketing teams understand that they complement each other, you can hope for a better working relationship and outcome.
If sales and marketing are rolled into one, who will make strategic decisions? Who will be accountable for the team’s performance? To maintain working order in this new regime, you will have to define leaders.
- Aligned management: The leaders from constituent teams will collaborate and build a new strategy jointly. They will govern members in their respective teams and work towards achieving the new goals. Most practitioners of smarketing follow this form of leadership since it doesn’t result in reshuffling or rehiring hassles.
- Combined management: The original teams are disbanded and a single smarketing team is created with select members or new hires. A leader is appointed for the restructured team. This kind of overhauling involves additional hiring, attrition, and training costs.
Whatever option you choose, secure your management’s buy-in since you require their ongoing support and cooperation.
Gain clarity on technicalities
Do your teams follow the exact same definition of the ideal buyer persona? Are the milestones in the buyer journey clearly etched in their minds? What is the end-goal of a campaign? What metrics matter?
These questions need to be tackled at the outset if you want your smarketing experiment to be a success. You also need to define terms and benchmarks for your teams.
Two common terms used in relation to sales funnel are marketing-qualified leads (MQL) and sales-qualified leads (SQL). These are the touchpoints where a lead/prospect/customer is handed over to the next stage in the buyer journey. They are also critical metrics for any sales funnel.
MQL are leads that are more qualified to become a customer than other leads. Intelligence and analytics tools play a key role in identifying MQLs.
SQL is a prospect that is deemed ready for the next stage in the buyer journey. This is based on an evaluation by both marketing and sales teams.
MQL and SQL and their transition rate are the lifeblood of a smarketing team. If sales and marketing teams are not on the same page regarding their definitions, conflicts are bound to happen.
Have stringent handoffs
In a smarketing ecosystem, a strict handoff policy can help eliminate finger-pointing when the numbers are dipping. It will also ensure that everybody is on the same page and knows how to proceed.
Here are some concerns when it comes to handoffs: How will handoff happen- CRM or email or instant message? What protocol is to be followed? Who is culpable if an issue is escalated? What is the TAT for various tasks?
You can reduce missed deadlines and cap lost leads if you engrain a handoff culture in your company.
Smarketing is not complex. If you understand the rationale behind it, you will be able to come up with innovative ways of smarketing yourself. The key is to keep your sales and marketing teams close and personal. The rest with follow.