Sales and Marketing Alignment, sometimes referred to as "smarketing", is a term that's trending in blogs and marketing videos but what does it really mean? Simply put, Sales and Marketing Alignment is the active coordination between your marketing department and your sales team with the same goals of driving increased revenue for your business.
Benefits of Sales and Marketing Alignment.
A better customer experience.
Happy and successful customers are way less likely to churn or leave negative reviews. Customers that are achieving their goals are customers that want to share that positive experience with others.
More up-sell opportunities.
Up-sells don’t work well using traditional sales principles that aren’t focused on your customer achieving their ideal outcomes. Anything that feels pushy, or like a hard sell, or remotely manipulative won’t just fail, it will undermine the customer’s trust in your company.
Lower CPA and Higher CLTV.
When the marketing and sales experiences are in alignment your conversions rates naturally increase, making your advertising more effective and decreasing your CPA (Cost Per Acquisition). Customers who are happy with their experience are likely to spend more and buy again which increases your average CLTV (Customer Lifetime Value).
Increased referral business.
Simply put, when Marketing and Sales align to support your customers’ goals, they’ll support yours by happily referring friends and family to your business.
Bottom line growth.
Identifying great clients is the key to growth. Clients that are a bad fit might help you hit short term sales quotas but will actually hurt your company’s profitability in the long term by tying up valuable resources or damaging your online reputation.
Do I need Sales and Marketing alignment if I don't have a marketing department?
However, not all SMBs (small to medium-sized businesses) have a marketing department. If you don't have a marketing department, whoever does your marketing or advertising is your "marketing department" by proxy.
Whether you use an external marketing agency or just buy advertising from your local media outlet, active coordination between your internal sales team and your marketing department, whether internal or external, is a critical component to your success.
How to get started with Sales and Marketing Alignment.
If this sounds like something you'd want for your business then here are some helpful tips to get started with your company's Sales and Marketing alignment.
Designate a single leader.
Typically, the sales team will throw the marketing team under the bus when they don't hit their numbers blaming the quality or quantity of leads for the deficit and marketing fires right back blaming sales for a lack of effort. Having a neutral liaison between the two teams will help foster a cooperative relationship.
In larger organizations this may be the Chief Revenue Officer but in a smaller company, this is probably you. Your role is to bring the two teams together around a single revenue goal. You'll want your leader to be clear that this is combined effort with you leading the two teams.
Share Goals and Objectives.
One of the best definitions of culture I've ever heard is that culture is a community that shares common values and a common language. Corporate culture is no different. It has to share values, goals, and speak the same language if it's going to thrive. This especially includes your sales and marketing teams because they are who your customers are interacting with.
First, start by creating a stretch goal for revenue. This should be broken down into annual, quarterly, and monthly revenue goals. Both the sales and marketing teams need to be focused on the same destination.
Next, they need to set the S.M.A.R.T. goals that will help get them there. Break down how many SQLs (sales qualified leads) you'll need to hit the stretch goal, how many MQLs (marketing qualified leads) you'll need to generate to those SQLs, and how many website visitors, webinar attendees, or other top-funnel activity you'll need to generate the required MQLs.
Generate the right leads for your business.
Think of your sales team as the front line of your business, specifically in terms of your customer communications. Sales should influence the types and qualified of leads marketing works to generate Marketing should communicate any data and insights to sales. Both of these teams need to own successes and failures together.
They should learn something from every lead that turns into a sale and more importantly they learn from each lead that never becomes a sale. They should discuss which messaging, creative, media outlets and marketing channels generated the qualified leads and which generated the unqualified leads. They should always communicate so they can optimize your lead generation.
Deliver on your company's value promise.
How many times have you bought something and were instantly disappointed in the salesperson, service, or the product? Coordinating your sales and marketing teams around your company's real value proposition can make all of the difference between a happy customer who refers one or two friends to your business or an unhappy customer who tells hundreds of potential customers about their less than optimal experience by posting a negative review online.
Many companies, especially those with external marketing departments tend to exaggerate the service or product value to increase the number of inbound leads they generate. Be realistic about your service levels or product claims and help your potential customers solve a problem, overcome a challenge, or achieve a goal. Sales can help marketing by documenting the language that actual customers use, the language the sales team uses and share it with the marketing team. If your marketing speaks the same language as the customer and your sales people in it's advertising and content marketing, your customers are more likely to have a seamless experience.
Develop a complete funnel approach.
A completely optimized marketing funnel and sales pipeline is the ultimate goal. If your company can focus on the entire funnel instead of the very bottom, your revenue and growth will become more predictable and more sustainable. When the marketing funnel is full of quality leads, the sales pipeline can be optimized.
The marketing team should analyze the funnel data to see where prospects and MQLs are "falling out", and what type of content or outreach keeps them moving down the funnel and into the sales pipeline. The sales and marketing teams should work together to develop a cadence of communication as well as what should be communicated at critical milestones during the customer journey and specifically in the sales process.
Create a SLA and have both teams commit to it.
The formal definition of a Service Level Agreement is a written contract that establishes a set of deliverables that one party has agreed to provide another. This agreement can exist between a business and its customers, or one department that delivers a recurring service to another department within that business. The second variation is the one that applies here, only you want this to be a mutual SLA.
Your marketing team should be accountable to your sales team for a consistent quantity and quality of qualified leads. Consequently, your sales team should be accountable to the marketing team for response time and the number of contact attempts before the lead is returned to the marketing funnel for further nurturing.
Your SLA should start fairly simple and can develop over time as you understand the factors that contribute to the success and failure of your goals.