Smarketing. You’ve probably heard the expression. It’s the quippy term used to indicate alignment of sales and marketing teams. And, yes, odds are good a marketer came up with it.
Achieving alignment, however, takes more than creative zhushing of a sales deck, but the outcome of such work can result in substantial reward — especially for B2B companies. Studies have shown B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing achieve 24% faster growth and 27% faster profit growth.
While it has always been important to ensure sales and marketing are working in lockstep, it’s even more so during times of unprecedented change. If 2020 didn’t convince us of the value of teamwork, 2021 surely will.
Here are four steps to help inspire alignment between sales and marketing, which will ultimately increase revenue, shorten sales cycles, improve conversion rates and foster a culture of collaboration.
Step 1. Set rules for engagement.
Ideal alignment is a function of each team understanding the other’s value — not converting to the other’s way of doing things. There’s no better example of that than in the world of KPIs. Sales and marketing have different goals to meet. Alignment requires mapping those out and building a bridge to connect them in a fair and transparent manner.
For instance, tracking conversions as a percentage of market attraction, which can help identify disconnects in driving qualified leads. Similarly, monitoring the sales cycle timeline can help improve the buying cycle process and ensure marketing is delivering the most qualified prospects. This begs the question: How will marketing know what constitutes a good lead? See Step 2.
Step 2: Target the right prospects — together.
Buyer personas are a great tool for ensuring accurate audience segmentation for effective digital marketing, as well as shaping content specific to buyer needs. They can also serve as a powerful sales enablement platform that can guide the sales process and conversations. When sales and marketing create buyer personas together, they are more accurate, and subsequently, more effective at targeting qualified leads and converting them.
In addition to serving as a litmus for gauging whether marketing and sales materials are on strategy, buyer personas can inspire targeted messaging playbooks that translate into ready-made sales scripts and cost-efficient advertising. Plus, the sheer act of collaborating on a single objective sales and marketing share can create some valuable we’re-in-this-together vibes.
Step 3: Meet weekly to discuss lead transfer.
The handoff from marketing qualified leads (MQL) to sales qualified leads (SQL) requires a collaborative and consistent effort. Meeting weekly to analyze and discuss these leads keeps teams in sync and helps to maintain positive traction. This is the opportunity for sales and marketing to ask questions that will help them better understand prospect behavior and optimize efforts. For instance, if a lead came through a gated piece of content, did that same lead also open the follow up email that was sent? Are any of the MQLs already on the sales team’s radar or someone they know?
Answers to these questions help inform a more tailored approach to conversion, as well as improve efficiencies. By taking the time to define leads and discuss the handoff process regularly, both teams can reduce resources they might have applied to weak leads and spend their time on more promising leads instead.
Step 4: Remember content — and people — are king.
It’s important to remember that marketing is responsible for promoting all aspects of a business — its services and products, its brand and its people. After all, at the end of the day people do business with people, and this is especially true in the B2B arena where establishing trust and credibility are paramount.
Marketing should leverage resources to showcase the sales team’s expertise and history of success. This typically means engaging a content marketing strategy where marketers ghostwrite thought leadership for select sales team members, craft social posts sales can easily cut and paste into their feeds, and promote virtual events and webinars that allow external stakeholders to ask and hear from relevant subject matter experts. The goal is to make it easy for sales to take center stage. Outfitted with the right props and script, they’re sure to draw the right crowd.
Sales & Marketing alignment is the answer.
There may often be an ampersand between the two terms, but sales and marketing are on the same team. One cannot survive without the other. Therefore, alignment is the only way to secure the viability of both and the success of the company overall. It’s not easy, especially as many sales and marketing teams are working virtually, but it is straightforward. To learn more about aligning sales and marketing teams, building buyer personas and creating content marketing strategies, set up a Clarity Session with AvreaFoster.
- Establish KPIs and goals that work in concert — and set recurring meetings to measure and discuss opportunities for optimization.
- Collaborate on creating targeted buyer personas and messaging. Then organize sales and marketing efforts around those.
- Have the teams shadow sales calls and attend webinars and events in order to better inform strategies and marketing materials.
- Position marketing as the enabler to sales, creating thought leadership and driving content marketing strategies that highlight sales expertise.
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