Embrace SMARKETING: 8 Tips to Align Sales & Marketing for Success

Customer-centric strategies present an opportunity to take a fresh approach to how sales and marketing teams communicate and work together.

There’s a running joke in business that John Gray’s book, “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus,” was really written about sales and marketing. Let’s face it, the relationship between the two teams at most companies is typically described as rocky, if not dysfunctional. But aligning these two organizations doesn’t have to be a pipe dream.

Workplaces are already so dynamic. It is not out of line to feel like true alignment is essentially a lost cause.

However, there is a good reason 95% of “world-class” sales leaders have achieved alignment with their marketing departments yet only 35% of average performers can say the same. Those world leaders enjoy 32% higher revenue and 36% better retention rates.

Don’t give up on sales and marketing alignment just yet. Technology has created the perfect environment for each department to improve its relationships centered around common goals.

Specifically, customer-centric strategies give your organization an opportunity to take a fresh approach to how each department communicates and works together.

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Unsurprisingly, most companies say a lack of alignment between marketing and sales costs them revenue and damages their brand’s reputation.

Instead of looking at other companies and wondering why you haven’t figured it out yet, take a step back and give your organization time to figure out its own approach.

Like any relationship, sales and marketing need basic values like respect, trust, accountability, and boundaries if you ever want to reach a common ground between the two. Once you get the ground rules straightened away, dive into strategy.

Create a List of Shared Goals to Align Sales and Marketing

Start your marketing and sales alignment by asking each department to sit down and brainstorm a list of shared goals together. Specifically, ask them to focus on improving customer relationships.

Each department plays a key role in shaping how customers first see and learn about your company. Without proper alignment, it is hard to keep up a consistent message for customers. This disconnect between marketing and sales messaging makes your company look untrustworthy or mismanaged.

Encourage Ongoing Communication Between Departments

Sales reps and marketers do not have to discuss insights and metrics all day, but they should work in tandem. Keep the communication channels open – even casual or social ones.

Open communication on apps like Slack, Yammer or Microsoft Teams breaks down the tension each department no doubt feels every time they approach the other with a problem. Why not encourage some positive interactions too? Get each department comfortable with the other.

Ask Each Department to Map Their Ideal Lead for Scoring

You don’t need to broach this topic on the first day of discussions but keep it in mind as you structure your long-term alignment strategy for sales and marketing. Ask each department to create their own lead scoring system, noting their red lines and compromises.

No two departments – or even any two individuals – will ever see completely eye-to-eye on lead scoring, but this is where alignment comes in handy. At least each department will have its compromises ready to jump into negotiations instead of getting bogged down with tedious conflict.

Use a CRM So Insights Keep Flowing

Technology makes sales and marketing alignment seamless without considering each department’s unique agendas and the conflict it brings. Contact relationship management (CRM) systems are ideal.

For starters, CRMs focus on improving customer relationships. You can integrate your dashboard with all the latest data and insights on your customers.

Alignment between sales and marketing gets easier when each department can access the same insights, metrics, and data visualizations inside a CRM because it reduces misunderstandings and prioritizes the customer’s best interest.

Find Shared KPIs to Help Align Sales and Marketing Efforts

While you don’t want to keep your goals too structured as far as metrics go, a few broad KPIs can keep each department engaged in the other’s work. KPIs make intangible ideas like “improve customer satisfaction” actionable.

Start with a few high-level goals that relate to customer relationships for your shared marketing and sales KPIs. From there, each department can apply its own strategies and related KPIs. This type of alignment takes practice so do not get discouraged if it doesn’t go smoothly right away.

Revisit Your Customer Personas and Brief Everyone

How can sales and marketing work together if they are not even creating strategies for the same type of customer? The B2B buyer journey is extremely long and convoluted today so instead of trying to pin it down, focus on human relationships and people.

In a way, B2B marketing personas are starting to look more like B2C customer personas in the sense that your B2B personas might outline typical demographics in addition to firmographics like job role, company name, company size, etc.

Hire an Outside Project Manager

There’s no shame in asking an expert outsider for help if your team is too vast or stressed to work out sales and marketing alignment alone. A project manager offers a refreshing third-party perspective and keeps each department focused on the high-level goals.

They could also help each department map their individual strategy and adjust in real-time as the environment changes.

Like any strategy, your marketing and sales alignment strategy and KPIs should enjoy the perfect blend of flexibility and functionality. A project manager keeps each team focused on what matters and brings a non-judgmental authority to the table – an element much-needed in most organizations.

Align Sales and Marketing with the Right Attitude from Everyone

You should not expect sales and marketing to work conflict-free indefinitely but like any healthy relationship, there is no reason you shouldn’t expect healthy communication and strategy flow where the two teams communicate clearly, understand each other’s needs, solve problems together, speak the same language, and share feedback in real-time.

Embrace SMARKETING. Focus on creating a shared strategy between the two departments that focuses on how they increase customer lifetime value, customer retention rates, and overall customer satisfaction. Use this as a launchpad for each department to draft its strategy. Sales and marketing alignment is not impossible but, like any type of communication, it takes ongoing effort.

Author

  • Kellie Walenciak is the global head of content and communications for Televerde, a global revenue creation partner supporting marketing, sales and customer success for B2B businesses around the world.

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