Aligning your sales and marketing teams will optimise your organisation around growth. Here are the essential elements of success.
Sales and marketing alignment, aka Smarketing, is the act of getting your sales and marketing functions working together in the effective pursuit of a shared objective – normally revenue growth.
Traditionally, sales and marketing have acted as silos, working with little interaction and knowledge of each others' processes.
As buyer behaviour has changed, along with the effectiveness of each function at different stages of the buying process, this approach has become less and less valid.
But getting sales and marketing working together can be challenging. Differing personalities, methodologies and philosophies can all cause friction.
Why align sales and marketing?
Highly aligned teams convert more leads into opportunities and sales, retain more customers, and grow revenue significantly faster than misaligned teams.
A 2015 study by Altify (then The TAS GROUP) found that companies with aligned sales and marketing generated 208% more revenue from marketing activity, increased win rate by 38% and retained 36% more customers.
Successful sales and marketing alignment requires a conducive environment in which people, processes and technologies are all connected.
Here are the essential components of effective sales and marketing alignment:
1. Single customer view
Disconnected systems create data silos containing differing sets of information. When sales and marketing teams look at individual contacts or groups of contacts and see different things, they cannot act intelligently.
The cornerstone of sales and marketing alignment is consistent view of every single contact, no matter who is looking or from where.
A consistent, single customer view (SCV) enables sales and marketing teams to properly respond to buyers actions across all channels and stages of the lifecycle.
An SCV allows marketing to autonomously and safely target leads with new campaigns and nurturing content, without jeopardising potential deals.
Sales meanwhile can time their actions perfectly based on their lead's behaviours and actions, plus they can inform their conversations with the same rich information.
Whether you aggregate data in a single, shared system that serves both communities or integrate systems so that data is always complete and in-sync, creating that Single Customer View is an essential step on the journey to aligned sales and marketing.
2. Closed loop reporting
Closed loop means that sales reports back to marketing which contacts have closed into customers.
However this is achieved it means that sales and marketing can both see which marketing channels and tactics are responsible for creating the contacts that go on to turn into customers.
Over time, having this closed loop in place will enable businesses to see the return on investment (ROI) from their marketing spend and to focus on the marketing methods that deliver the best results.
Without a closed loop, arguments between sales and marketing about lead quality and sales efficacy are inevitable. With it, both teams can simply focus on their successes and support each other to achieve even more.
3. Common definitions
Before you can get sales and marketing teams collaborating effectively, you need to ensure they are speaking the same language.
Both disciplines frequently use terms that, while commonplace, have no fixed definition.
By establishing and agreeing your own definitions of key terms, such as those used to describe lifecycle stages or deal progression, you can prevent much disagreement and frustration later on, allowing for frictionless management of contacts across all channels.
4. Regular communication
Its not unusual for sales and marketing teams to work in near isolation from each other. But without regular communication, collaboration is impossible, regardless of the systems and processes in place.
Meeting regularly to share and discuss marketing and sales plans, analyse results against shared objectives and refine strategies and processes will enable your aligned sales and marketing teams to perform at their best.
Avoid long recurring meetings and keep things nimble. Ideally, base your sales and marketing teams close to one another so that discussion can happen as required. Regular update meetings with a planned agenda are probably required but don't limit communication to these as this will stifle creativity and progress.
5. Shared philosophy
A lot has changed in the worlds of sales and marketing, and buyers now expect a seamless experience, no matter which functions they interact with.
To achieve this, it helps to have your sales and marketing team see eye-to-eye about how to manage leads.
Your sales and marketing representatives need to have a shared understanding of how leads are most effectively generated, nurtured and converted. And they need to understand why they must collaborate, rather than compete, and unite around shared goals and objectives.
Ready to go?
Think your organisation is in need of better sales and marketing alignment? Then download our handbook for a complete overview of how to implement these five essential components.