According to the ol' business fables, sales and marketing teams haven't traditionally been best friends. Like Sherlock and Moriarty, these two teams don’t often see eye-to-eye, with a feud forever brewing and bubbling just below the surface. So armed with our mend and make-do attitude as we power on through 2021, it's time to tackle the seemingly impossible (... stick it on the bill) - aligning our sales and marketing strategies.
But it's not just us who think these old-school rivals need to put their differences aside. According to world-class sales and marketing professionals, aligning your sales and marketing is going to be a vital part of staying competitive.
Sales vs. Marketing
The first thing we need to ascertain is how your sales and marketing teams are different. After all, don’t both departments work to get what you make into the hands of happy customers?
Well, yes...and no.
Both departments have the same end goal - to convert leads into paying customers to generate glorious revenue for your company.
So, you’d think with this shared goal in mind, your sales and marketing department would be a little less Sherlock and Moriarty, and a lot more Sherlock and Watson. Less like two competing visionaries, and more like a partnership that’s stronger for the other’s presence. Both of these departments are, after all, fundamentally different.
Your sales team is responsible for not only converting leads to customers, but also managing customer relationships, customer retention, answering questions, sales calls, solving problems, and doing everything in their power to help the customer find the solution they need to their problem. They focus on the entire customer journey. They’re the anchor of your team because, without them and customer loyalty, how would you generate revenue?
Your marketing team, however, is there to help generate those leads and make your customers aware that the things you make exist, they’re great, and they’ll make customers’ lives easier. They’re the people who build buyer personas to figure out what your customers want to hear, craft thoughtful marketing messages and campaigns and execute them to perfection. If you didn’t have a marketing strategy, your salespeople wouldn’t have all that many people to sell things to.
This is why your sales and marketing teams are like Sherlock and Watson. Both work to bring in the dough, but the entire operation wouldn’t work without either of them.
Steps to Build a Killer “Smarketing” Strategy
Yeah, yeah, we know. Everything has to have some kinda fancy, fused name these days, doesn’t it?
All the same though, smarketing - the alignment of sales and marketing - is the lightbulb moment you've been waiting for!
According to a recent case study, when your marketing and sales teams and strategies aren’t aligned, close to 75% of all marketing leads never amount to a sales conversion. So, you’ve not only wasted a ton of opportunities to get some money in the company bank account, but you’ve also wasted the resources and budget you’ve already given to these two teams. Inefficient processes can only lead to misaligned sales and waste of marketing efforts.
But, on the flip side, when there is alignment between sales and marketing, you can expect to see at least a 34% increase in new business revenue.
So, while both teams have the same goal, they don’t really...have the same goal, because they think they’re both playing on different fields. Your marketing team’s trying to generate as many leads as possible, and your sales team wants to convert as many leads as possible, but neither team works together to meet their common goal. How then do you align your sales process and marketing strategies for optimal success?
Create a Single Customer Journey
The first big disconnect that creeps in between marketing and sales is how well they understand the customer. More often than not, you’ll find your marketing and your sales team have different ideas for how a customer moves between awareness and making a purchasing decision, and this is a huge reason why leads often don’t become customers. Customers aren’t stupid; they can sense this disconnect from a mile away when they start interacting with your brand.
So, you need to get your teams together and encourage them to restructure their goals around a single, mutually understood customer journey that spans from the second the customer hears about your brand to the very last communication you have with them about a certain product.
Agree on a Customer Persona
Again, marketing and sales teams often have different ideas about who they’re actually talking to. It’s not surprising. Both teams will typically aim for different qualities in the same persona but, over time, the idea of who the customer is gets warped.
The most important thing in this is that both teams always need to put the customer first, and that comes with agreeing on a customer persona (or multiple) and how to market towards their qualities at each stage of the customer’s journey. Who is the ideal customer to both teams?
That means your marketing team needs to understand who’s interested in your product, while your sales team works on who’s ready to make a purchasing decision.
And yes, these should both be two sides of the same customer persona coin. Just with the understanding that what makes a persona interested won’t be the same thing as what makes them ready to buy.
Saying that, it’s also important for your teams to be flexible with their personas. Over the last year, in particular, we’ve seen how easily the market can change and shift, and your marketing and sales teams need the power to adapt to that. Inevitably your customers’ pain points will change and pretending that they won’t will inevitably lead you and your teams back to square one of this whole process.
Use a "Marketing First" Approach
Yes, we know we’ve been saying until now that both teams are equally valuable, but there’s a huge advantage to taking a marketing-first approach.
Sure, your sales team could survive without their marketing peers, but in this day and age, no one likes a cold caller. Or a cold emailer. Or, really any kind of unsolicited marketing.
So, your marketing team needs to figure out where your customers hang out and meet them on their playing field. Once they’ve nailed down where your customers are, it’s time for your sales team to reinforce the marketing message and start working on those conversions.
Track Joint KPIs
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, key performance indicators (KPIs) show you what’s working and what you need to fix, pronto.
Usually, your sales and marketing teams will track different KPIs. Your sales team wants to know how many accounts they’ve renewed, new accounts they’ve generated, and overall conversion rate. Your marketing team, meanwhile, is probably more interested in lead quantity and quality, advertising ROI, and email open rates.
So how do you align their KPIs? Well, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. You just need to get your two teams to have a regular meeting each week to discuss what’s important to them, and how they can align those things together. If you want them to work together under a common goal, then you need to get them weekly meetings going to work out what their other common goals are.
Use Customer Feedback
Let’s face it - unless you’re really passionate about surveys and reviews, you’re not asking your customers to fill them out for the fun of it. No, you’re sending them out because you want to see what your customers think about what you’re selling and what they think you can do better.
Reading the submissions isn’t just about finding the weirdest complaints to laugh about around the coffee machine, though. Although, we won’t deny that it’s fun. You can use the information you get back to understand what your customers’ pain points are, what they’re looking for, and even what you need to do to turn those missed conversions into sales.
From there, both teams can work together to refine your brand message and products or services, and then market them accordingly.
Whether you’re selling pencils to children or industry-grade rocket fuel to NASA, the last thing you want is for your marketing and sales team to be using different terminology. It’s downright unprofessional, plus when you make your customers work harder to figure out what you’re saying, it’s a whole load of friction that can get in the way of them deciding to make a purchase.
The bottom line is if you’re confusing your audience via mixed messaging, they’re not going to trust you. And why should they? If your teams can’t agree on what terminology to use, then how can a customer trust you’ve got your stuff together to help them out?
That’s why your sales and marketing teams need to be working from the same brand guidelines. Handbooks explaining agreed-upon terminology, phrasing, tone of voice, and even how to act as part of a certain campaign or sales drive are awesome for keeping everyone on the same page.
Building a More Prosperous Future with Smarketing
The truth is that it’s much more expensive to obtain new customers than it is to retain them. That’s why both teams need to work together to help keep your returning customers on your side, as well as making it as easy as possible to convert qualified leads.
Aligning your teams won’t be easy. We’re friends now, we’re not going to lie to you like that. But, we can promise you that the effort to align your teams will be worth it. It’s not only going to increase the lifetime value of your current and potential customers, but it’s going to have massive knock-on effects for your ongoing growth, profitability and company goals. If you want to build a more profitable future for your business revenue - and honestly, who doesn’t? - then it’s time to let smarketing into your life.