S is for superhero. And, S is for smarketing. The alignment of sales and marketing teams around common goals is a talent of a more earthly nature than spider-like abilities, and yet, it has the potential of radically transforming the way B2B organizations market and sell their products. The best of it? You don't need to be born on the planet Krypton to unleash its potential. In this blog, we cover five practical ways of running a smarketing program that works.
Creating and maintaining alignment between sales and marketing is not an easy task. It requires a strong commitment from both teams and clear-cut processes. But if done right, great things will happen. For example, bridging sales and marketing helped Superoffice increased revenue by 34%. In a nutshell, smarketing is about having sales and marketing collaborate to win more happy customers and grow the business. Here are five essential smarketing tactics you must implement to earn your big S and start flying.
1. Defining a common target buyer
This is as obvious as it gets. And yet, in many B2B organizations, if you ask a marketing person and a salesperson who their ideal buyer and audience are, you'll hear two different answers.
Such a misunderstanding is understandable. Marketing and sales see the same target buyers from a different perspective. Marketers typically think about broader groups and audiences, while salespeople talk about accounts and think about pipelines.
To ensure your sales and marketing efforts focus on the right companies—and the right persons within these businesses, both teams, must speak the same language when it comes to their target buyer. They must agree on who the ideal customer is, what they care about, and their situation.
How to align on your target buyer
Luckily, sales and marketing teams can use the same two weapons to align around the target buyer: ideal customer profile and buyer personas.
Simply put, your ideal customer profile (ICP) is a description of the type of company you should try to sell to, and your buyer persona is a detailed analysis of the people who buy from you. The first tells you company attributes like revenue, number of employees, or web technologies in use, and the latter helps you understand the person within these ideal customers to be the more relevant you can be.
Both functions—the whole company, really, should share crystal clear definitions of ideal customer profiles and buyer personas. Because insights from data are the basis of these definitions, the teams can more easily find a shared understanding of their target audience.
Both Marketing and Sales—the whole company, really, should share crystal clear definitions of ideal customer profiles and buyer personas.
Aligning around your target buyer isn't a one-time exercise. Every six months, you should review and update your ICP and personas as your best-fit prospects might shift as you release new products, services, and features.
2. Integrate data for sales and marketing alignment
The sales team needs confidence Marketing can deliver real, quality leads, and marketers need to trust sales reps to input accurate data that can help them run better campaigns. If inbound leads consists of nothing else than a name and an email address, sales reps will feel like they're wasting their time.
Both teams can tap into company data to uncover the ideal accounts to target. Shared data will glue the functions together, building trust and avoiding small data discrepancies that wear down the relationship over time.
Today, anyone can access a tremendous amount of company information that goes beyond basic firmographics, like location and revenue. Knowing a company's technology stack, their web presence, and other technographics uncovers opportunities that otherwise might have gone unnoticed. Plus, understanding and getting notified of recent events in the target organization (aka triggers events) makes all the difference when deciding the best time to pick up the phone. For example, with additional company information at hand, marketing can add extra layers of information to the leads that download one ebook, and pass that information down to sales reps, whose outreach will be then much more relevant.
Such a wealth of information should be the basis of both sales and marketing processes. With a strong data foundation, the collaboration between these two departments will be stronger as both teams will have the confidence they aren't wasting time on bad-fit prospects.
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3. Share a tech stack
Remember when all the technology a salesperson needed was a telephone? Those were the days. Simple times. As sales are made more and more in digital channels, businesses must build a well-thought-out technology architecture. Getting things right when choosing a sales tech stack is pivotal for sales and marketing alignment.
Easier said than done, however. Often, technology decisions are made in silos, and systems only serve the needs and goals of an individual department. Instead, every department in the business must communicate and cooperate to break silos and jointly engineer a holistic sales and marketing architecture.
How to build the right sales and marketing architecture
The key to building a sales and marketing technology stack is collaboration and cooperation between different departments. For seamless alignment, sales and marketing software should "talk" to each other, share the same data, and be tightly integrated. This way, when the systems are fully integrated, data can automatically be synced between them.
There are hundreds of sales tools in the market today—here's a list of the most important important categories and vendors, but besides functionalities and design, you want to look into these two key aspects before you commit to any pieces of software.
- Ensure systems are integrated. With data flowing both ways, all teams have a complete picture of the buyer lifecycle, from visitor to customer, at all times. When the loop is closed, sales teams can access data about the prospect's business and online behavior in one place and more easily discover and understand potential patterns. Similarly, marketers can see what content works best at the bottom of the funnel, and generate more of the content that drives results. With both teams sharing a holistic view across the entire sales, collaboration to fix problems and do more of what yields positive results will only be natural.
- Keep a tidy CRM. Sales and marketing tools are only as good as the data in them is. Unfortunately, 30 percent of contact data goes bad each year. Companies change, errors, and duplicates clutter the database. For this reason, it's a good idea to have data cleaning tools as part of your sales and marketing tech arsenal.
- Automate as much as you can. Sales intelligence software eliminates many of the manual tasks of the sales process, such as CRM data input or searching for relevant insights and trigger events. A data enrichment process appends the company information sales and marketing need to ensure they provide providing the right customer journey to the right company.
4. Unify content creation
Information is the new oil, and as a result, content marketing has become the most potent weapon for business-to-business marketing. Most B2B buyers are conducting research on their own, so marketers need to offer them informative, quality content. As a response, sales organizations are investing significantly in content marketing, but often it remains a separate, elusive operation. Creating content that serves both sales and marketing is hard and time-consuming, and yet, from the sales perspective, far too much marketing content goes unused by sales.
How to create content that works for sales and marketing
Consistent, scalable, strategic marketing content requires active collaboration between marketing and sales.
- Set up brainstorm sessions. Sales reps on the field are talking with prospects every day. They know their worries, needs, and interests. Therefore, sales reps can provide first-hand insights into what's cooking.
- Coordinate your content calendar with sales. The content calendar should be visible to salespeople, so they know what's coming and can promote new content as soon as it's out. It's also essential to keep the sales team up-to-date with offers and promotions.
- Tap on salesperson's expertise. Salespeople can establish credibility and familiarity with their leads by writing blog posts and other pieces of content. Marketers can interview their reps and ghostwrite posts under their name.
5. Establish closed-loop reporting between sales and marketing
Smarketing requires open, frequent communication between teams. Establish weekly meetings and gather all your sales reps and marketing people to ensure everyone's on the same page. These meetings will allow each team to have visibility of the other's actions, objectives, and progress—an opportunity to speak freely about what works and doesn't.
Besides going over the most important metrics and key performance indicators, you want to use this meeting to strengthen a closed-loop reporting system between sales and marketing. This allows the marketing team to pass more intel and get feedback from your sales reps.
By establishing a tight closed-loop integration, you'll not only be able to measure performance more accurately but will also identify sources of further growth through a closer understanding of the business you work with.
Closing the smarketing loop
In short, closed-loop reporting means "closing the loop" between the data that marketing is collecting and the data the sales team is gathering. This type of reporting aligns both functions around the same data, bringing specific benefits for marketing and sales. In this context, sales teams have the opportunity to give feedback on lead quality and report to marketing about what happened to the leads they received.
Benefits for marketing: Closed-loop reporting allows marketing to learn which marketing programs are working and which aren't. Encourage your marketers to measure how each marketing effort performs through the funnel over time, as well as funnel conversion rates from stage to stage.
Benefits for sales: Data on the interactions and the conversion path of a particular contact helps sales reps prioritize leads, use content wisely, and, eventually, close deals more quickly.
Tying the knot
They say a good marriage requires work, persistence, and patience. Smarketing is no different. The marketing-sales alliance signifies a commitment to support each other, based on concrete numerical goals.
To maximize accountability and empowerment, it is best to establish a service level agreement (SLA) between the two departments. This document should outline marketing goals and sales activities to support. Like a prenup, It serves to clear up confusion and solidify the roles of each department in the entire lead generation process. If after reading this blog you're ready to start smarketing operations, this template gives you an idea of what to include in an SLA to make sales and marketing alignment work.