Previously, many businesses have conceptualized their sales and marketing teams and functions as two separate entities. In this context, marketers’ job is to produce content and promote the company to bring in as many leads as possible, while the sales team are left to attempt to convert these leads into customers.
The two teams may have little understanding of each other’s strategy or day-to-day work, and in the worst-case scenarios, may even look somewhat disparagingly at each other.
But did you know that approaching marketing and sales in this way can lose you leads and customers? Your business can achieve so much more if these two departments work together in tandem.
What is smarketing?
“Smarketing” is a portmanteau of the words “sales” and “marketing.” It refers to a business strategy in which the sales and marketing teams are closely aligned to create an integrated approach.
The objective of a smarketing strategy is for the two teams to build a strong relationship based on shared goals and a unified strategy to reach them.
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Why is smarketing important?
To put it simply, you should care about smarketing because it will help your business succeed. A 2010 study showed that companies with strongly integrated sales and marketing functions achieved an average of 20% annual revenue growth. And Marketing Profs found that companies that took a smarketing approach enjoyed 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% more sales win:
Smarketing can also improve your customer experience. If the marketing and sales teams work closely together, customers receive the right communications and information at the right time.
If your sales and marketing teams are out of alignment or do not view each other as teammates, you can face serious issues. Without a full understanding of sales goals and how the team meets them, your marketers will not be able to focus their efforts in the right place and pull in the kind of qualified leads needed.
Without understanding and having input into the marketing strategy, your salespeople will be poorly equipped to convert those leads into customers.
None of this is good for customer satisfaction, employee morale, or the bottom line. Therefore, embracing smarketing will allow both teams to fully utilize their skills to take your business to the next level.
Five steps to implementing a Smarketing strategy
Now that you understand the value of a smarketing approach, you might be wondering how to implement it in your business. In this section, I’ll share my top tips to get you started.
Assess your baseline and set goals
How well are your two teams working together already? Perhaps they have a reasonably healthy relationship, but the processes need some fine-tuning. Or maybe they are entirely out of alignment, and a significant overhaul is required.
Consider the following questions to assess what your smarketing baseline is:
- How often do the sales and marketing teams meet, if at all?
- Do meetings between the two teams tend to be collaborative or adversarial?
- How often and in what ways do the two teams communicate outside of formal meetings?
- How is the relationship between the heads of each department?
- How do the two teams speak about one another? Your answer to this should account for informal complaints or things you have heard around the office, as well as any feedback you receive through official channels.
- What percentage of the leads generated by your marketing team are typically followed up by your sales team? If this number is low, it indicates either a problem with the way leads are handed over or a problem with the follow-up process.
- What percentage of leads that are followed up result in a conversion? High follow-up but low conversions are indicative of poor-quality leads.
Once you’ve established a baseline indication of how things are going, you can start to work on your smarketing strategy.
Start by setting your goals. Remember that goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. “I would like my sales and marketing teams to become more aligned” is a poor goal. “I would like to build stronger communication between my sales and marketing teams and see a 10% growth in revenue by the end of the year” is a SMART goal.
Get the whole team’s buy-in and build smarketing into your culture
If your approach until now has been to have separate and disparate sales and marketing teams, you cannot expect this to completely change overnight. Altering a company culture takes time and effort, but it is worth putting the work in – and the sooner you get started, the better.
Any change of direction within a business can only succeed if everyone is invested in its success. Therefore, involve everyone from both teams and get their buy-in as early as possible.
Take a top-down approach, beginning with the heads of the two departments and senior executives. Getting these key people on your side will be critical to implementing the new strategy across the teams and the company.
Explain why you are shifting to a smarketing approach and the benefits it will bring. Ask everyone to voice any concerns they have, pay attention to those concerns, and do what you can to address them. If people feel that you’re listening to them, they are more likely to respond positively to the changes and embrace the new approach.
One of the best ways to build a culture based around the smarketing approach is to include it as part of your onboarding process. You should include a smarketing onboarding meeting with the heads of both departments as part of your induction for new employees, and make sure they have a chance to get to know members of both teams.
Regular meetings between sales and marketing
In all types of relationships, whether business or personal, communication is vital. Your sales and marketing teams should meet regularly. Once per week will be ideal in most organizations. The two teams can use this time to share successes and challenges, review recent campaigns, explore new ideas, and assess how they are both doing against their monthly, quarterly, or annual targets.
You can also have a representative from your sales team to attend the marketing team’s meetings and vice-versa. This can be a different person each time, and they can report back any essential information to the rest of the team.
Implement a transparent data-sharing agreement
Data should be at the center of all the significant decisions you make in your business. Data is how you understand your website traffic, the quality of your leads, the success or failure of your ad campaigns, and much more.
Therefore, if the sales and marketing teams are to work well together, they must have access to the same robust data sets. The best way to do this is through an integrated CRM database if you don’t already have one. You should choose a tool that allows you to automate your digital marketing, track your metrics, and manage your sales funnel all in one place.
But having access to the data isn’t enough. To truly harness its power, you need to have a clear and well-communicated strategy for how that data is being used and how it informs critical business decisions.
Make use of collaboration tools
Utilize the tools you have at your disposal to encourage collaboration between the two teams. These tools are particularly useful for your remote teams, but can be helpful even if you are all based in the same place.
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Frequent use of email is now the norm in most companies, and you should encourage open lines of email communication between your two teams. You could take this one step further and have a shared team email account (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org.) This helps to build team cohesion, allows frequently accessed documents or information to be stored in one account, and demonstrates to outside parties such as customers that your sales and marketing teams are closely aligned.
Using tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams can also facilitate ongoing team communication outside formal meetings.
Sharing documents on a system like Google Docs or OneDrive allows for easy and seamless collaboration, while a shared project board on Trello or a similar platform facilitates sharing of information, fair division of tasks, and real-time progress updates to the whole team.
Smarketing can change the way you do business
When it comes to bringing in customers and growing your bottom line, sales and marketing are the two most critical functions in your company. But neither can achieve everything alone. A joined-up strategy, collaborative relationship, and integrated processes are essential for both teams – and your company – to reach their full potential.
Try a smarketing approach, and you’ll soon see that when these two functions work together, they are greater than the sum of their parts.
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