How to Perfect Your Sales and Marketing Alignment

Sales and marketing alignment is essential for an effective healthy and scaling business. Sales and marketing teams are notorious for not getting 'along', but it's fair to say both are vital parts to the success of the business. 

Sales usually complain that the leads marketing provide aren't any good, and marketing worry that sales aren't doing a proper, timely and thorough follow up to the leads they have painstakingly gathered. 

It’s often the fact a business is scaling that brings this issue on. As a small team, sales and marketing really can combine well. When each member of the team is nearby or perhaps have built up a trusting relationship over time.

But when teams scale, and start to be housed further apart, literally as well as figuratively, problems with communication start to sneak in. And before you know it sales and marketing are pursuing what appears to be competing agendas! It’s a huge problem.

When the teams are working properly and closely, will aligned objectives and the same focus we call the resulting team a Smarketing team! A team that tight they share the one name!

Here are some tips to help you get there!

Organise your sales process around Personas 

Personas aren’t just essential for marketing. They can be vital to help Sales and for that matter Service teams to understand what’s going on in the client’s mind at each of the steps in the buyer’s journey. This is in turn can lead to more clarity around expectations that the client and the business itself has in terms of the process.

It also gives more insight into sales about what they are trying to achieve and who they are trying to help. This in turn can help with setting up sales enablement tools and CRM email templates to speed up sales and make the process more efficient.  

Lead Sharing 

As mentioned, this is a massive area fraught with issues if not tackled properly. Sales must know what Marketing think a lead is (a Marketing Qualified Lead or MQL) and it's equally important that Marketing know what Sales are looking for (a Sales Qualified Lead or SQL)

 The process of turning MQL’s, acquired through content marketing and lead nurturing is the lifeblood of the operation. Failure to understand each other here can lead to disaster and a ton of friction when it comes to the organisation itself.

Everyone needs to understand the process. What does Marketing consider as an MQL? Who accepts the MQL’s from Marketing? And what process will Sales follow to turn them into SQL’s and convert them to sales?

On balance, the best-trained team wins 

A characteristic of a successful business is that there is a culture or learning established that is taken seriously on a daily weekly and monthly basis. Training marketing in all things marketing as well as the other functions in the organisation is a great way to foster understanding and create a positive culture, and of course, Sales would benefit too.

Consider opportunities to train the Smarketing team together as much as possible to build up the relationships. Trying to get larger teams together off-site, or as is the trend currently, on a group video call delivers the training and helps the team bond.

Smarketing (Sales and Marketing) Best Practices
1. Meet Regularly

The best way for your teams to connect is to connect! Here are some great ways to bring the teams together naturally and effectively.

Have an onboarding meeting with every new starter where they can meet the teams and the people they will be working within the ‘opposite’ team too. Us the time to get to know everyone but also explore the SLA – service level agreement – that covers the relationship and what each team can expect of each other.

Attend sales meetings to help Marketing teams understand progress towards targets, and help them identify pinch points in the process they might be able to help Sales overcome. This also has the benefit of keeping Sales across developments in Marketing at the same time.

Hold a Smarketing Management meeting. For Sales and Marketing management to analyse the SLA and ensure that both teams are meeting agreed levels. It’s a good idea to share metrics like Lead generation, MQLs, percentage of leads worked and lead to customer conversions.

Attend events together as a team, rather than as two separate functions. Attending events in a casual setting is a great way to get everyone in a more relaxed place to allow for understanding and shared objectives to be shared.

2. Create a team email alias

A good way to ensure communication is shared reliable is to send emails to everyone that is involved in a process or project from the beginning. There’s nothing worse than coming to a project late or badly informed because someone forgets to copy in someone else.

3. Have a Content Creation process in place

Sales have a fantastic insight into what clients are saying and what they want to know. As this information isn’t always formally gathered its easy to miss out on this great potential source of ideas.

Maybe hold weekly brainstorm meetings or even set up sharing platforms like a Google Doc to collect ideas and references.

4. Coordinate content marketing campaigns with Sales

Talking of content, make sure Sales know what the advertising or website is offering your companies prospects. You do not want Sales to be offering something that they aren’t aware is already in the public domain, especially if they are trying to give the sense of exclusivity to the offer that they are making!

Start a shared calendar of promotions for Sales to easily reference what’s coming up and maximise their collateral at the same time. Email the team with offer talking points, Lead view so they can see who is responding to the offer and a quote of the week for instance.

Build follow up email templates that Sales can use to stay within the terms of the offers or the look and feel of the campaign. This integrated approach will bring a lot of benefits.

5. Set shared goals

This may sound obvious, but make sure the shared goals of the Smarketing team are set by the teams and set together. While most Sales and Marketing teams sometimes seem to have different aims and KPI’s, for instance, Sales might be focussed on monthly revenue, and Marketing on website traffic, it's not too much of a stretch to come up with linked KPIs that drive the correct behaviours.

Think conversion rate throughout the funnel and lead value for instance.

6.Share reports and analysis

In the spirit of building trust and transparency, it can be really useful to make sure each team are sharing their reports, analysis and any other information that might aid the conversion of leads to sales. Salespeople have a unique insight into the data and can draw conclusions others can’t based on their knowledge and experience and the same is true of Marketing people too.

7. Help showcase Sales expertise

Marketing needs to show your company and its products or services in their best light, so why not apply this to the salespeople too? The salespeople are the usually the direct interface with the customer so it makes sense to nurture them as a marketing resource as you would content.

Get them to write blogs (or ghostwrite them for them) and encourage them to use social media to post company content and help grow their influence and network at the same time.

8.Dual call

Marketers should sit in with Sales and listen to the conversations they are having with your prospects. It’s a great learning experience in and of itself but will give Marketing tremendous insight into what the conversations between your company and its customers are like. What matters most, where the sticking points are and the problems that need to be surfaced.

9.  Build central sales enablement resources

Marketers are already building great stuff like websites, eBooks, brochures and presentation, but Sales will create shortcuts that undermine their credibility if they can’t easily find and deploy them.

Use the opportunity to put all this resource into one place to include other valuable material like content and offer calendars, personas and specific content for a market or vertical.

10. Have fun!

Get to know each other as people. Break down the barriers with time-honoured activities like workshops, lunches and celebrations. Incentives should be shared across Sales and Marketing to foster a sense of togetherness. This also helps the team feel like they are in it together.

Sales and Marketing = Smarketing 

The definition of synergy is when the sum of something is greater than its parts – and this is what we talk about when we talk about sales and marketing alignment. Try out these ideas and have fun with them.

And on a more serious note, take a look at our download below this article to see what a typical Service Level Agreement between Sales and Marketing might look. As always if you would like to discuss this subject or anything else related to this subject, feel free to reach out to us. We love a chat about Smarketing!

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Tony Dowling

FCIM | HubSpot Platinum Partner | Revenue Consultant | HubSpot Certified Trainer | South Wales HUG Leader | | 07812 582213

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