If you want your business to grow fast, you need to ensure your sales and marketing operations align. That sounds like common sense, but you’d be amazed at how many businesses fail to align these operations.
It’s a costly mistake.
Smarketing is vital because when sales teams and marketing teams are out of alignment, they may not work coherently together to achieve the same goals. That leads to miscommunications, both in-house and customer-facing.
Don’t worry. Designing and implementing a plan to align the two departments is incredibly straightforward. Here are the steps:
1. Determine your starting point and set goals
Conduct an alignment audit first. Without knowing how well the two departments are currently aligned, you’ll be working in the dark when trying to strengthen them. They might even already have a working relationship with only some simple streamlining required, for all you know.
In too many cases, sales teams and marketing teams are entirely out of sync with one another. That’s going to mean a major overhaul. To conduct your audit, you need to evaluate the following:
- Do the marketing and sales teams meet to discuss goals? If so, how often?
- Do the two teams communicate when they are not forced to in meetings? If they do, how often are they communicating, and what methods are they using?
- Do the heads of both departments have a good relationship, or is it more adversarial?
- Do the leads that are generated by the marketing team get followed up every time by sales?
- Are the sales leads generated by the marketing team resulting in low conversion rates?
Answering these questions will give you a starting point. That will take you to your next step, which is to set goals. Make sure that your goals are SMART. Being vague and setting the goal as ‘creating more alignment between the two teams’ is not a SMART goal.
Here’s an example of a smarketing SMART goal: I want to improve collaboration and communication between the sales and marketing teams. I want this to lead to a 15% increase in annual revenue.
Set suitable goals for your smarketing. With your baseline established and your goals set, it’s time to implement your smarketing plan.
2. Make smarketing a part of company culture
If you’re used to having two siloed teams that rarely collaborate, implementing your smarketing plan will take time. It will mean a shift in company culture, and that won’t happen in one day. The earlier that you launch a change in business direction, the better!
The key to making smarketing a part of your company culture is to involve both teams every step of the way. Everyone needs to be involved from the top down.
Start with the heads of the departments. Explain to them the plan and get them on board by highlighting all of the benefits. Make sure that you address any immediate concerns so that the separate teams know they will have input.
Communication is going to be the key factor for your smarketing plan. That’s going to mean agreeing on relevant terminology. That means more than simply clarifying which kind of language to use. You might also want to use an agreed style guide like the AP style guide or an online grammar checker.
Instead, it means working on buyer personas. A more defined customer profile will not only help the marketing team to target their messages. It will also help the sales team to be more focused on sales prospecting. It can also help the marketing team create calls to action that help them to build email lists for the sales team to utilize.
Ask yourself who we mean when we’re discussing the ideal customer? Then ask when a potential customer is best handed over to the sales team.
3. Ensure sales and marketing meet regularly
When you’re working to align your sales and marketing teams more closely, it makes sense that they communicate regularly. In most cases, a once a week meeting is more than enough to:
- Report successes
- Discuss and resolve challenges
- Discuss new ideas
- Evaluate financial target success/failure
It’s also a good idea to have a representative from the marketing team when the sales team meets up, and vice versa. That will make information more accessible and free-flowing in both directions.
The goal here is transparency. Communication becomes much more seamless when the two teams have complete access to the other team’s actions, progress, and objectives.
Make sure that the sales team gives continuous feedback on their progress and their opinion on lead quality. The marketing team will only benefit and grow if they can learn more about what happens to the leads they are generating.
4. Create a data-sharing agreement
If you want your sales and marketing teams to work together with a smarketing synergy, they need immediate access to the same data sets. There are several ways to achieve this. The most straightforward is to use an integrated CRM database.
There are plenty available to use, but it’s best to utilize one that will automatically track your most important metrics, automate your marketing, and manage your sales funnel.
Of course, being able to access the relevant data isn’t the end goal. You need to ensure that both teams know how to use the data generated and how the data will inform any major decisions.
For more effective smarketing, you need to ensure that the software used by the two teams can be integrated. That’s because it will allow for more immediate data sharing, and all data will be synchronized and accessible. Even something as simple as automating related products for upselling can be extremely high-value.
The best thing about more integrated software is that it allows both teams to have a window on the complete buying cycle. It will mean that sales teams can:
- More easily spot patterns in buying behavior, so they can leverage these patterns to make more sales.
- Quickly identify common consumer pain points and then deliver the relevant content to resolve those pain points.
Having a more visible buying cycle means that the marketing team can see what content leads to conversions and can more easily identify gaps in the content marketing campaigns that can be filled.
Most importantly, a more integrated data-sharing system will allow both teams to understand the context of a sale and where conversions aren’t landing. They will then collaborate to fix any issues with the sales funnel or highlight when to send automated follow-up emails.
A data-sharing agreement achieves two things. It helps teams to measure their performance and makes it easier to spot future growth opportunities.
5. Utilize collaborative tools
Attending weekly meetings is vital, but work continues, and decisions are made outside of those meetings. That’s why you need to start using more collaborative tools. There are plenty of tools available for more aligned collaboration. Let’s look at the most common tools that can boost collaboration.
- Emails: One option to consider is to create a shared email account across each team (example: email@example.com). That means it is easier for your sales team to send important communications to the marketing department (and vice versa).
- Slack/Microsoft teams: The problem with emails is that they can easily get buried or accidentally sent to a spam folder. More immediate communication can eradicate the need for emails. Likewise, quick, informal chats between team members are often much more advantageous than slow emails.
- Cloud collaboration tools: Using Google Drive or OneDrive means that the relevant team members can share documents and work on them together in real-time. This makes collaboration 100% seamless. Cloud-based technologies are the future of all business processes, and smarketing is no different.
- Project boards: You can share information easily using a tool like Trello, ProofHub, or Workzone. Information can be shared more easily, and tasks can be divided equally. Updates can be inputted in real-time, and the whole team can experience total transparency into the working process and vital goal-meeting.
Use the right collaborative tools, and your smarketing plan will be fine-tuned, agile, and responsive to new data.
Businesses exist to make money. It’s your sales and your marketing teams that are the key to higher profit margins. If you want your business to reach its full potential, then sales and marketing integration is critical. That’s why it makes sense to adopt a smarketing plan.
Take the time to implement your smarketing plan and measure the results. It should come as no surprise that profits will rise when the marketing team creates strategies that set the sales team up for conversions.
Focus on communication and collaboration, and your smarketing plan will only help your brand to grow.