If you search for “wordplay” on Google and your humor is as bad as mine, you can easily waste a good part of your afternoon reading jokes on how a scarecrow kept getting promoted because he was outstanding in his field. Yet not all wordplays are time-wasting gags. There are also those that will help you save time and achieve business growth. Have you heard about smarketing? Smarketing is, in short, alignment between your sales and marketing teams created through frequent and direct communication between the two.
What is smarketing more precisely? Is it relevant for your business and, if so, how do you go about implementing this approach into your day-to-day?
What is Smarketing?
Smarketing is the process of integrating the sales and marketing processes of a business. The objective is 100 percent sales and marketing alignment, so they work together to achieve common goals with the aim of increasing revenue.
That sounds simple enough, but simple definitions often lead to lengthy explanations.
What smarketing means for the growth of your business:
- a structure for how to set measurable goals that your sales and marketing teams agree to hit, preferably defined in a service level agreement (SLA).
- a streamlined lead generation process that allows for measures, grades, disseminates, and follows up on possible prospects for your business.
- data alignment throughout the used systems like CRM and marketing automation when it comes to company information, needed contact information and their format.
- a more effective ideal customer profile framework, when sales and marketing agree on the same description of the perfect customer.
- improved account scoring, thanks to a company-wide agreement of what defines your ideal customer profile.
When sales and marketing align within a business, great things can happen. And that’s smarketing.
Table of contents
- Why does Smarketing make sense?
- 3 reasons to develop a Smarketing strategy
- A 6-step guide to getting started with Smarketing
- What to include in an SLA
- Practical ways of using company information in Smarketing
Why does Smarketing make sense?
The way customers buy has changed.
Salespeople used to have full control over what information customers got. In the past, questions like: “How can I get to know more about the features of this product?” or “I want testimonials and reviews, where can I find them?” used to be met with the answer: “Talk to sales.”
Fortunately for consumers, that’s not the case anymore. They can now do research on their own. A vast wealth of information about nearly every available product and service on the market is now easily accessible for all customers online. The changing tides of the industry have resulted in inbound marketing growing stronger over the past ten years. Marketers now work actively with things like blogging, SEO, PPC and email nurturing to attract potential customers to their site and product with the goal of having them convert into leads that ultimately help sales get customers.
According to research, 60 percent of the buying cycle is over before a sales rep even steps into the picture. Since more than half of the sales process depends on marketing efforts, sales and marketing teams need to work together to make sure leads convert into customers. While these two revenue generation teams often have some level of collaboration in place, they frequently struggle to find common ground.
The typical battle looks like this: sales complains about marketing not generating enough quality leads for them to work. At the same time, marketing criticizes sales for not working the leads they do get hard enough. By improving smarketing in your company, you can make these two teams work together towards common organizational goals instead of bickering. Marketing will better understand which types of leads are most likely to close, so they can generate better quality leads. Sales will work these leads better when they see the true purpose of actively processing the high quality leads marketing provides them with. This means more time spent on actually selling and ultimately more revenue.
Smarketing helps your sales and marketing team spend less time bickering and more time closing business.
Companies that bet on smarketing see 20 percent more income per year than those who don’t have sales and marketing working in sync, according to Aberdeen Group. Is that not reason enough to consider it?
3 Reasons to develop a Smarketing strategy
1. Increase the ROI of both the sales and marketing department
With closed-loop reporting, sales gets insights about the online behavior of their leads, and they can make what would have been a cold call into a warm call. When they become more relevant in every touchpoint, salespeople will improve their hit-rate in every step of the B2B sales process, leading to higher sales figures. Marketing will get a better understanding of where their best leads come from, meaning which types of leads will most likely convert into paying customers. Marketing can then better allocate their time and resources to maximize their ROI effectively.
2. Achieve business goals faster
When your two revenue generation departments direct their efforts towards the same objectives, you can increase your profits and reach other business goals faster—your business as a whole will flourish.
3. Improve team cohesion and the company environment
When sales and marketing bury the hatchet, the office climate will improve. Happy employees not only raise the organization's productivity but also make it a magnet for the best talent out there. Your business will perform better in terms of revenue AND harmony.
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A 6-step guide to getting started with Smarketing
Itching to get started with smarketing? For successful smarketing, roles must be clearly defined as a part of one overall funnel—as opposed to two (one sales, one marketing).
We’ve compiled a six-step guide to level-up your sales and marketing strategy to grow your business as a cohesive (smarketing) unit.
1. Create an aligned terminology
Speaking the same language and maintaining daily communication between sales and marketing is imperative for successful smarketing. Make sure that everyone shares the same vocabulary. Moving beyond clarifying key terms such as “lead” and “prospect,” sales and marketing teams should also work together to identify their ideal customer profile. A well-rounded ideal customer profile will help you uncover which prospects the marketing department should be targeting. It also allows salespeople to be more focused in their sales prospecting as they get a clearer image of what characterize the companies they should look for.
In short, questions both teams should answer together include: “what do we talk about when we talk about our ideal customer profile?” and “when do we consider a lead ready for the sales team to take over?”
2. Create a service level agreement (SLA)
Once you’ve made sure everyone in your organization speaks the same language, the next critical step to align sales and marketing efforts is creating an SLA. An SLA between sales and marketing serves to clear up confusion and solidify the roles of each department in the entire lead generation process.
The agreement should detail marketing goals, like the number of leads or revenue pipeline; and the sales activities that’ll follow and support them, like engaging leads that are qualified by the marketing team. (More on how to create an SLA for sales and marketing alignment later.)
3. Share the same funnel
When sales and marketing share the same funnel, they can easily ensure that leads are treated with consistent messaging and tone through the funnel. According to Tenfold, uniform helps keep leads engaged throughout the complete funnel process; more leads will convert to paying customers. In the sales and marketing funnel, marketing is responsible for the top of the funnel, while sales is responsible for the lowest part. The middle of the funnel is the responsibility of both teams.
4. Establish closed-loop reporting between sales and marketing
Both sales and marketing must have visibility of the other's actions, objectives, and progress. Encourage the sales team to give feedback on lead quality each month. “Closing the loop” means that sales teams report to marketing about what happened to the leads that they received.
5. Integrate your sales and marketing software for data alignment
For seamless alignment, sales and marketing software should be fully integrated. When the systems that sales and marketing are using can “talk” to each other, data can automatically be synced between them.
When software is integrated, all teams have a complete picture of the buyer lifecycle, from visitor to customer, at all times—the loop is closed. This brings several benefits:
- Sales teams can access data about prospect's business and online behavior in one place and more easily discover and understand potential patterns.
- Salespeople can better anticipate buyer pain points and proactively share content targeted to each potential buyer based on their organization and its current situation.
- 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 yields positive results.
A closed-loop integration should be achieving a dual purpose—to measure performance and identify sources of further growth through a closer understanding of the business you work with.
6. Proceed all communication from data
Data can be the glue that keeps your smarketing efforts together. It keeps both sides honest with one another. If sales thinks the lead flow was light in the past month, give them the numbers from months prior. If marketing thinks sales isn’t working their leads, get lead data that shows the percentage of leads worked in a given month.
What to include in an SLA
Your sales and marketing SLA is the peace plan between your sales and marketing departments. To maximize accountability and empowerment, it is best to define the SLA in a joint meeting between the two.
In your sales and marketing SLA, both departments commit to supporting each other, based on concrete numerical goals.
- Marketing SLA defines the expectations sales has for marketing with regards to lead volume and quality.
- The sales SLA defines the expectations that marketing has for sales on how deeply and actively sales will process each marketing qualified lead.
You might not want to think about it, but there should always be formal consequences when a goal isn’t met as part of an SLA. It doesn't have to be dramatic. By having clear decisions for a) who’s in charge of making sure each department’s goals are met, and b) if you include a form of compensation to one party when the other doesn’t meet their agreed-upon goals in your written SLA, you can avoid fights between the two groups down the road.
Practical ways of using company information in Smarketing
In a nutshell, smarketing is about having sales and marketing collaborate to win more happy customers and grow the business. A necessity for this to be possible is that the two departments agree on a shared description of their ideal customer profile. An ideal customer profile should be based on company data, as this minimizes the risk of missing many of the less obvious indicators of accounts that you and your team should ideally target.
Today, salespeople can access a tremendous amount of company information that goes beyond basic firmographics, like location and revenue. Knowing a company’s technology stack, their general web presence, and other technographics, and understanding relevant events in the organization by looking at recently sent out buying signals can make all the difference when creating a top-notch ideal customer profile.
Company information lays the ground for sales and marketing collaboration by
- Helping sales and marketing define a shared ideal customer profile and with that specify what characterizes a high-quality marketing qualified lead.
- Understand the entirety of the sales funnel, allowing marketing to improve their lead nurturing activities and helping sales be more relevant in their outreach by tracking the right buying signals.
In a perfect world, marketing sets sales up for success, and sales gives marketing the insights they need to remain relevant to buyers. Reaching this utopia is the purpose of smarketing.
The secret sauce is active and open communication between both departments. Setting a common framework for sales and marketing requires an investment in both time and resources from everyone working in these departments.
To establish sales and marketing alignment, you should:
- Make sure your sales and marketing team speak the same language and maintain daily communication between both teams. Everyone should agree on what defines your ideal customer profile, a lead, and a prospect.
- Give both marketing and sales visibility of the others actions, objectives, and progress.
- Let them share the same funnel, and define the lead transfer process.
- Establish an SLA that defines the expectations that sales has for marketing with regards to lead quantity and lead quality and the expectations that marketing has for sales on how deeply and frequently sales will pursue each marketing qualified lead.
- Ensure that sales and marketing have access to the same data and make everyone support their claims with data.
Benefits of integrating Smarketing into your business include
- Marketing will deliver more high-quality leads
- Sales will be better equipped, and motivated to actively process these leads into paying customers
- ROI will increase in both your sales and marketing department
- Higher revenue and employee satisfaction throughout your organization
Vainu collects an enormous amount of information from millions of open data sources, and our machine learning algorithms analyze it so you can implement it into your aligned sales and marketing efforts. Insights from company information should be the basis when you define your ideal customer profile. If you want to know more about Vainu, don’t hesitate to contact us.