A few years back, Hubspot coined the term “smarketing.” This refers to the alignment of sales and marketing, created through frequent and direct communication between the two teams.
But aligning sales and marketing isn’t always easy. It can be difficult to know where to start, or how to use technology to support the process.
To help, we’ll cover three key steps to choosing and using software to boost alignment at your organization.
- Ditch Manual Methods, Use Software Instead
- Integrate Your Sales and Marketing Software
- Develop Shared Agreements
How Smarketing Works
Before we dive into the three steps, let’s take a look at what’s involved with smarketing.
In a nutshell: Inbound marketers produce content that addresses groups of buyers (known as “personas”). Meanwhile, inbound salespeople provide specific pieces of marketing content (e.g., white papers or blog articles) to individual buyers.
Based on their sales interactions, reps gain additional insight into what buyers care about and communicate this to the marketing team. Marketers then use buyer information to create better content, and so on.
The Smarketing Feedback System
Businesses that align their sales and marketing teams in this way can certainly reap the benefits.
Aberdeen Research, a technology and services company, found companies that are “best-in-class” at aligning marketing and sales experience an average 20 percent growth in annual revenue—while laggard organizations see a 4 percent decline.
Ditch Manual Methods, Use Software Instead
Manually tracking customer information is time-consuming, error-prone and hard to gain real-time insights from. As customer data grows larger, productivity and sales can suffer even further as a result of manual methods.
Generally, smarketers use some combination of a few types of software:
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems help consolidate customer information in a shared location, so everyone has access to just one set of data. While some only offer basic contact management functionality, others are broader suites of multiple applications (such as social CRM or marketing and sales automation).
Marketing automation software automatically tracks campaigns and prospect behavior, and helps qualify leads before they’re passed to sales. Some marketing automation systems also provide inbound marketing tools to help marketers create and distribute content online.
Sales automation software helps reps see pipeline activity and automatically manage accounts, leads and customer interactions. These systems also help businesses generate sales reports and forecasts.
Make sure the software you choose supports your alignment goals, helps create a seamless customer experience and caters to the way your buyers purchase.
The important thing to keep in mind when making a technology decision is that the buyer now has the power instead of the salesperson. The best thing that a technology can do is align the salesperson with the modern buyer’s process and decisions. … A technology that helps sales reps engage in an inbound, personalized sales process is ideal.
Integrate Your Sales and Marketing Software
For seamless alignment, sales and marketing software should be fully integrated. In other words, these systems should be able to “talk” to each other and automatically sync data between them.
Some vendors offer fully integrated suites of applications.
Many stand-alone systems can be integrated after purchase by using plug-ins or hiring a developer. Not all systems can integrate, though, so make sure all the software you choose can work together. Without integration, your teams will only have a limited view of the buyer funnel.
When software is integrated, all teams have a complete picture of the buyer life cycle at all times. This brings several benefits:
- Sales teams can access data about online buyer behavior, anticipate buyer pain points and proactively share targeted content.
- Marketers can see what content works best at the bottom of the funnel, and act quickly to fill any gaps or generate more of the content that drives results.
- When they can see buyers’ context across the entire funnel, sales and marketing can collaborate to fix problems and do more of what works without extra effort.
Develop Shared Agreements
With integrated sales and marketing software in place, businesses set the stage for successful smarketing. However, Scott says that even with the right tools, teams can run into snags if they don’t outline clear responsibilities ahead of time.
First, he notes, marketers should make sure to create content that’s focused on pain points, not just products.
When content is too product-centric, salespeople have a harder time using it to answer the full range of buyers’ questions—and, as a result, may struggle to close some deals.
Second, Scott says, some salespeople will fall back on old habits: They may try to push buyers through the sales process with hard-sell tactics, instead of using marketing content to guide buyers along at their own pace. Today, buyers have more power over the purchasing process than they used to—and they aren’t afraid to turn tail on a pushy salesperson.
The truth is, the buyer’s in charge, and when they’re ready, they’re ready. … It’s a really different sales process than it used to be.
These kinds of issues can create some nasty strifes between marketing and sales teams, which can make it harder to align.
To avoid these situations, get everyone on the same page as early as possible by creating a formal plan for how teams will support each other.
Having a very clear process in place with set expectations ensures that there is a seamless process for marketing, sales and most importantly, the customer.
Roberge suggests creating a service level agreement (SLA) that outlines these expectations. An SLA should, at the very least:
- Define the quantity and quality of leads that should come from marketing.
- Determine when leads should be passed to sales.
- Include guidelines for how sales reps will handle those leads once they get them (for example, how many leads reps should contact and how fast they should reach out).
SLA agreements are best when they’re co-created. Having both sales and marketing in on the conversation and decision-making process when creating SLAs helps generate buy-in and reduces complaints down the line.
Once these agreements are in place, you can use reports or metrics from the data you track with your sales and marketing software to check whether teams are following through.
From article by: Luke Wallace