Imagine you are the coach of a basketball team that is on a winning streak, and all of a sudden the players are running completely clashing plays, even though you have ensured they are “aligned” and share the same goals. Would they win the game? Most definitely, no!
This scenario can easily happen between your aligned sales and marketing teams (oops!).
Smarketing: Sales and Marketing Alignment
We know today’s reality is SMarketing, which is a solid alignment where sales know everything about marketing and marketing knows about sales, and everybody knows the customer. The benefits of SMarketing and strong sales and marketing alignment are crystal clear. According to Hubspot, companies with strong SMarketing practices, see 208% more revenue from marketing efforts (Woah, we want that!). Over the past few years, a lot of companies have made conscious efforts to align their sales and marketing teams. But like that winning basketball team, even aligned sales and marketing teams can end up operating on different playbooks, and we know that the misalignment costs are HIGH!
“But, my company’s sales and marketing teams are aligned, what more can I do?”, you might ask. Research shows that 84% of sales and marketing executives feel that their alignment has room for improvement, and there is! We have compiled a few steps you can implement to strengthen the sales and marketing alignment further so you can scale your business as a cohesive unit.
Step 1: Revisit Smarketing Goals & Strategies
“Tight sales and marketing alignment can help businesses become 67% better at closing deals.”
Unfortunately, even aligned teams can end up operating on different goals, whereas having frequent communication about goals is the foundation for success. Improve sales and marketing alignment by openly sharing and updating the end goals (more conversions, key accounts, etc.). Set aside designated time each month for sales and marketing teams to discuss and agree on the target buyer personas and the entire buying process because today’s customer is well-informed, changing, and seeks a lot more information before they make a final purchase. As your company and customer evolve, so will your definitions as to what qualifies as marketing qualified lead (MQL) vs. sales qualified lead (SQL). Consistently revisiting your Smarketing goals and strategies will poise your company scale efficiently.
Step 2: Develop Shared Agreements
According to Hubspot 2018 Report on Inbound Marketing, only 26% of companies that have aligned sales and marketing teams use SLAs!
Co-creating formal plans and service level agreements (SLAs) on how each of the teams will support each other is an excellent way to improve alignment. Involve both the sales and marketing teams in the SLA decision making process. This will generate accountability, buy-in, and also minimise any confusion and complaints associated with conflicting terminology and processes. SLAs should emphasise the quantity and quality of leads coming in from marketing and provide guidelines on when leads should be transferred to sales. Joint SLAs promote growth and scalability.
Step 3: Value of Enablement
Firms that execute best practices for sales engagement witness a 14% increase in annual contract values and overall deal sizes!
Companies who are seeking to further collaborate, scale, and tighten their sales and marketing alignment are investing in sales enablement.
Wait, back up! What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement is a technology or process of providing the sales team with knowledge, content, and skills to effectively sell at a higher velocity. It’s like how an NBA all-star player improves his game with the right shoes, training, coaching, and team. Even the top salesforce can benefit from the right support structure.
An example of sales enablement comes in the form of building a content library just for sales to have at their disposal as they interact with leads. This library may include case studies, statistics, client stories, how-to guides, product feature report, or competitor analysis. Ensure that these tools are easy to consume and reusable across the sales cycle. Let the sales team join in the discussion for creating this content army, and you might even find some content you can upcycle as you audit internal company documentation.
Step 4: Integrate & Automate
“Predictable results happen when a company aligns every component of their sales method”
Another way to strengthen your sales and marketing alignment is by first automating and then connecting their CRM and marketing automation platforms. When the technologies don’t talk to each other, you are likely to face issues of different teams prioritising different customers and needs. The ultimate objective is audience alignment and marketing automation can help you do that!
High performing sales teams work off the same data pool and have full visibility of customer’s data points. Automating and integrating disparate platforms further improves sales and marketing alignment as it provides closed-loop reporting and real-time communication. Investing in marketing automation solutions optimise time by allowing you to score leads, set up task notifications, and run multi-channel campaigns to generate more leads.
Navistar International, a pioneer in the commercial transportation industry, leveraged its Salesforce CRM platform by combining it with its internal marketing database to ensure that data across systems were up-to-date and connected across all segments. This provided their sales reps with holistic account pictures and empowered them to channel their energies on growth areas.
Step 5: Track & Measure:
The best SMarketing teams that thrive on a data-driven strategy can guide the sales process, boost productivity, and drive revenue. CIO Insights found that sales reps who use sales analytics increased quota attainment 4x faster than non-users. Leverage reports to understand who is meeting their SLAs and whether leads are moving through the pipeline at the right speed or not. Marketing automation provides access to valuable marketing analytics such as close rates, number of customer visits, etc. Tracking and measuring fosters accountability, improves alignment, and builds a shared metric of success.
Move Forward, Together
Visionary and growth-focused businesses have to move beyond sales and marketing operating in separate silos. Building shared goals, SLAs, revenue cycles and investing in sales enablement and automation sets your team to excel and outperform the competition. With SMarketing, where there is a harmonious partnership between all sales and marketing activities, trust is formed, work is positive, and everyone wins (#goals)! Benefit from increased revenues and customer loyalty by collaborating and moving forward, together.