Smarketing is so much more than the goofy-sounding buzzword suggests. It’s fast becoming the determining factor between whether an organisation succeeds or fails to achieve its business growth objectives by optimally aligning its marketing and sales units.
What makes smarketing scary and exciting at the same time, is that the relationship between sales and marketing is heavily dependent on interpersonal communications and human dynamics. The resultant gains, though, are worth making the effort to avoid the most common mistakes when aligning sales with inbound marketing strategy. Here’s what the people who are getting it right are doing.
Integrating sales into inbound marketing strategy
It may not sound like it, but an inbound marketing strategy does not belong exclusively to the marketing department. Sales and marketing have evolved to the point where they now overlap. The beauty of smarketing is that it emphasises common ground, instead of differences such as sales’ failure to convert leads passed to them into customers, or time wasted pitching to a lead who’s not ready to buy.
What to do:
The aim of both units is to make sure that there’s a steady flow of qualified leads and that revenue is increased for the business. Smarketing success means building inbound marketing strategy around the belief that sales and marketing have much to offer each other – real-life insight into what makes potential customers tick, from a sales point-of-view; and better targeted and more relevant content and messaging created by marketing. Clearly, inbound marketing strategy, aligned with sales, is critical to boost business growth – sufficient reason to make smarketing alignment a high priority for the senior management team; which it often isn’t. According to global B2B research and advisory firm, SiriusDecisions, an inbound marketing strategy aligned with the sales offering, can drive between five and 36 percent of an organisation’s growth.
Sales buy-in is critical to the process
Co-operation is critical to effective smarketing. In order to achieve co-operation, cross-functional processes need to be in place to make sure that both sides are in alignment. But be warned: achieving changes to any aspect of corporate culture is typically anything but smooth sailing. What makes all the difference to success is executive buy-in with a filter-down approach.
What to do:
An effective approach is to assign individuals to the process of fostering a co-operative relationship between sales and marketing. Fail to address the human dimension of smarketing and any attempt to achieve an effective alignment of these business units is doomed to fail. Only once the relationship between sales and marketing has been addressed, should teams move on to the nuts-and-bolts of how departments should support each other, as well as the tools, processes and metrics to be used.
Don’t expect quick results. Change takes time and systems that produce hoped-for results take even longer.
Alignment of people and business processes
One of the most valuable steps along the road to sales and marketing alignment is taking the time to experience the challenges faced on a daily basis by the respective business units. Three critical areas to consider in order to get the most out of the exercise are: unknown processes, agility and fairness.
What to do:
Avoid placing too much emphasis on technology. First make sure people and business processes are aligned. Encourage insight, on the part of sales, into what goes into the supply of a continuous stream of quality leads, and an appreciation within the marketing team of the pressures of achieving sales quotas on a continuous basis.
Smarketing is an ongoing process
One of the biggest obstacles to avoid in achieving sales and marketing alignment is resorting to quick fixes, which usually mean providing more training, employing additional reps and generating an increasing number of leads.
The integration of sales and marketing is based on a dynamic relationship between different but overlapping functions. This means the journey of constant evaluation and incremental improvement is likely to remain both scary and exciting, while its gains are critical to the future success of business.