The role marketing departments play in a company’s growth has changed dramatically over the past couple of decades. It’s all about making decisions based on data. Marketers have unprecedented access to data, and when properly analyzed, that data is a game-changer. Organizations are able to target and segment their potential customers like never before.
So where does that leave the sales department? The good news is sales teams are still relevant. But, these teams must work cross-functionally to create success. To illustrate, according to Forrester, B2B organizations with tight sales and marketing alignment achieve 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth.
Let’s take a closer look at how your business can create synergies by aligning your sales and marketing strategies.
In this article, we will cover:
- Smarketing: What is it & Why does it matter?
- The Roles of Sales & Marketing
- What is Alignment
- 4 Benefits Aligning Sales & Marketing
- How to Achieve Sales & Marketing Alignment
- How SGD Delivers
Smarketing: What is it & Why does it matter?
All too often, businesses create specific departments to focus on the sales activities versus the marketing activities. Sales complain they don’t have enough new leads. Marketing wonders what happened to all those qualified leads that came in last month. It’s a constant battle between departments.
But…does it have to be a battle between sales and marketing?
Miscommunication between sales and marketing is common. They are siloed when they should be synced. As a result, this lack of integration costs businesses more than a trillion dollars per year.
That’s why “Smarketing”, or sales and marketing alignment is so important. It’s essential that the teams become cross-functional with mutual buy-in when setting goals.
In order to understand sales and marketing alignment, it’s important to understand the respective roles.
The Roles of Sales & Marketing
Marketing and sales have many similarities. Both are necessary functions to help drive the growth of any business. They both focus on client acquisition and client retention. Both have very clear key performance indicators (KPIs) that impact the bottom line of the business they serve.
However, marketing and sales have many areas of their function that are not the same as each other. Let’s take a look at the key differences between sales and marketing roles.
First, let’s look at the sales department. Sales’ role is to convert those prospects into paying customers. They focus on quotas and sales volume. Additionally, sales can focus on maintaining quality client relationships to help further client retention and even generate referrals for new customers.
At the end of the day, sales is all about the quotas and closed deals.
Marketing helps serve the sales process through the development of audience personas, brand messaging, offers, and collateral. With the increase in digital marketing as a primary tactic for finding and attracting new clients, marketing teams use tactics like social media, email, paid ads, search engine optimization, and more to help the brand be more visible to potential customers online.
Marketing is all about building awareness of your brand to new customers and continuing to engage old customers. The marketing team can help determine who will be interested in the brand and how to find those potential customers.
With a lot of market research and data analysis, smart marketing teams can help find, attract, convert, and retain more clients for your business. In addition, they can help your sales team have an informed process for handling sales calls and closing new deals.
In short, marketers create demand, and salespeople meet the demand. Both roles are equally important. But, problems arise when goals and strategies are misaligned.
For example, if the client acquisition strategy is focused on delivering a live webinar to sell a new product/service, then marketing may prepare the assets and promote the webinar. But, if sales isn’t ready with the features and benefits of the new product/service, then all the time and energy for preparing and promoting the webinar may not net the volume of sales needed. Thus, the webinar may be seen as a failure.
When sales and marketing are aligned in this webinar strategy, they can collaborate on the messaging, have a deep understanding of the offer, and develop the systems to maximize the campaign before, during, and after the launch.
The bottom line is the two groups working together bring tremendous value to an organization.
What is Sales & Marketing Alignment
Think of alignment in terms of an infinity loop that maps the customer journey. Marketing and sales are united in a common goal and the cycle repeats.
The customer journey from the marketer’s perspective involves awareness and engagement. Marketing awareness includes driving new traffic and engaging that traffic with quality content and offers. From there, marketing can help nurture and qualify new leads for sales.
For sales, the focus is on conversion and retaining customers. Sales can leverage marketing to help re-engage, cross-sell, and build brand loyalty (psst…see our resources on creating Raving Fans).
Both teams are involved in retention and re-engagement. Along the way, sales and marketing alignment can improve processes, develop new ideas, and find areas to increase sales and retention. Sales and marketing alignment is all about collaboration and cross-team support.
4 Benefits of Aligning Sales & Marketing
According to Aberdeen Research and Strategy, companies with properly aligned teams generate 32% higher revenue and retain 36% more customers.
- A Clearer Understanding the ideal customer
With an agreed-upon customer persona, the teams can prepare messaging and offers that will help meet that audience where they are in the customer journey. Having a clear understanding of the ideal customer for the business helps marketing know where to find those prospects. For sales, knowing this will help with conversions. For both teams, this helps identify strengths and weaknesses across the entire sales funnel.
- Quality leads
The clearer the sales and marketing team is on an agreed-upon audience persona, the better a marketing team can target their audience. As a result, the leads generated are more likely to convert to sales
- Better Engagement Between Sales and Marketing
An overarching sales and marketing strategy that is nimble means everyone knows the goals and how those goals will be met. Everyone knows their role in helping the business goals.
- A More Well-Defined Strategy
Mapping of customer journey staying ahead of competition=increased revenue overall. When you know where a customer is on their journey through your brand, marketing can deliver more relevant messaging and sales can present solutions at the right time.
Ideally, a well-defined strategy and clear mapping of the customer journey leads to success – increased revenue.
How to Achieve Sales & Marketing Alignment
Now that we know what sales and marketing alignment is, how is it achieved?
It’s crucial that marketing and sales create goals together. One way to do that is to create a Service Level Agreement(SLA). In essence, an SLA is a cross-functional commitment to an established set of shared goals.
The State of Inbound Report 2018 found that organizations with an SLA between marketing and sales were three times as likely to have positive outcomes. And 87% of leaders believe in collaboration.
- Develop an agreed-upon customer persona
- Create common goals
- Re-imagine the customer journey to raise awareness and create engagement that leads to conversion
- Collaborate on marketing/sales materials
- Conduct weekly meetings to stay connected
- Work together after the sale to retain and re-engage
Marketing automation is another important piece of the puzzle. These software platforms enable organizations to market on multiple channels such as social media, websites, and email and reduce repetitive tasks.
A well-designed marketing automation system:
- Attracts and converts ideal customers
- Creates cohesive customer conversations
- Advances sales and improves retention
- Ensures that everyone’s role is clearly defined
Marketing automation allows you to send relevant messages to the right audience at the right time at any point in your customer journey. It helps you to send genuine and customized messages to your audience according to their interests, their purchases, or even your sales stage.
How SGD Delivers
In closing, at Smart Girl Digital, we know that any successful organization needs meaningful sales and marketing alignment. The teams should never operate independently. They should set common goals, create customer personas and customer journeys, and coordinate after the sale. The good news is – we know just how to make that happen!
We can help you build a fully integrated marketing plan that optimizes our strengths in marketing and the strengths of your sales team.