Smarketing: How to align your sales and marketing teams

The term ‘smarketing’ was coined by HubSpot, and it’s all about getting sales and marketing teams to collaborate.

Most companies agree; aligning your sales and marketing teams is challenging, yet necessary. A compelling 87% of sales and marketing leaders say that collaboration between these departments is a catalyst for significant business growth.

Here you’ll learn all about smarketing and how to align your sales and marketing teams.

What is smarketing?

Smarketing is when your sales and marketing team work closely together, sharing their insights and strategies to present a united front. It involves effective communication, shared objectives, and mutual accountability for achieving success.

A successful business is one where these two departments collaborate seamlessly, leveraging each other’s strengths to attract, nurture, and ultimately convert leads into loyal customers.

Why is smarketing important?

  1. Better lead quality: Smarketing ensures that the sales team concentrates on leads with a greater chance of converting..
  2. Happier customers: When sales and marketing teams collaborate seamlessly, it creates a smoother customer journey, leading to increased customer satisfaction.
  3. Accelerated business growth: In the end, smarketing drives substantial business growth by streamlining the sales and marketing process, making it more efficient and effective.

Common challenges when aligning sales and marketing teams 

  • Miscommunication: Lack of effective communication can lead to misunderstandings. For example, marketing may launch a campaign targeting one audience while sales expects leads from a different demographic.
  • Lead quality: Disagreements about what constitutes a qualified lead can arise. Marketing may believe they’ve provided highly qualified leads, while sales finds many of them uninterested.
  • Content relevance: Marketing may create content that doesn’t resonate with sales’ needs. Sales teams may need specific materials to address customer concerns and objections.
  • Lead handoff: The process of transferring leads from marketing to sales may not be well-defined. Leads might be dropped or poorly managed during this transition, causing missed opportunities.
  • Competing priorities: Sales and marketing teams may prioritise their initiatives differently. For example, marketing might focus on long-term brand building, while sales is more concerned with short-term revenue.
  • Performance measurement: Disagreements on how success should be measured can occur. Sales may prioritise closed deals, while marketing might focus on website traffic or social media engagement.

How to implement a smarketing strategy in 5 steps

  1. Set clear goals together.
  2. Establish effective communication channels. 
  3. Implement lead scoring.
  4. Involve sales in content strategy.
  5. Follow up on smarketing efforts.

Step 1: Define smarketing goals

The first step to align the sales and marketing teams is by setting shared goals. For example, if the company’s goal is to increase revenue, marketing could aim to generate a certain number of leads, and sales could aim to close a specific percentage of those leads.

Your smarketing goals could be:

  • Lead generation: Both teams can work together to generate a certain number of leads, focusing on quality leads that are more likely to convert into customers. For example, marketing may aim to provide sales with a set number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) each month.
  • Conversion rates: Sales and marketing can set common conversion rate targets at different stages of the sales funnel. For instance, they might aim to increase the conversion rate from MQL to SQL (sales qualified lead) by a specific percentage.
  • Revenue targets: Both teams can share revenue targets, where marketing is responsible for generating leads, and sales is responsible for converting those leads into paying customers to meet or exceed revenue goals.
  • Lead nurturing: Marketing and sales can collaborate to create and implement lead nurturing strategies to ensure that leads receive appropriate content and support at each stage of their journey. This can include goals like increasing the percentage of nurtured leads who request a product demo.
  • Customer retention: Sales and marketing can set goals related to retaining and upselling to existing customers. This might include a target for customer retention rates and the percentage of customers who purchase additional products or services.
  • Content creation: Both teams can collaborate on content creation and set goals for the production of relevant, high-quality content that appeals to the target audience.

Step 2: Establish smarketing communication channels 

Establishing smarketing communication channels is crucial for ensuring seamless collaboration between sales and marketing teams. It promotes the exchange of insights, feedback, and real-time information, allowing both teams to work cohesively towards shared goals.

To set up effective communication channels, consider implementing regular meetings, sharing a common CRM system, and using a project management tool like Asana. Encourage open and transparent communication, ensuring both teams are aware of each other’s activities and can provide timely feedback to enhance their strategies. 🤝

The sales team should provide feedback to marketing about lead quality and the effectiveness of various lead generation efforts. Marketing, in turn, should share insights on campaign performance, including metrics like click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROI. This fosters a productive and synchronised work environment that benefits the entire organisation.

Step 3: Develop a lead scoring system

In order to prioritise leads that are most likely to convert, a lead scoring system can be implemented based on their level of engagement with marketing content. For example, a lead who has downloaded a white paper may receive a higher score than one who has only visited the website. This scoring system enables the sales team to concentrate on leads that have shown more interest and engagement with the marketing content.

When you’re setting up a lead scoring system, it’s essential to understand the difference between a sales qualified lead (SQL) and a marketing qualified lead (MQL).

Think of MQLs as those who’ve shown interest by, say, downloading a white paper – this kind of engagement increases their lead score. On the other hand, SQLs are a bit more advanced; they might have asked for a demo or pricing info, resulting in a higher score, indicating they’re further down the purchase path.

Typically, SQLs transition from the marketing team to the sales team once they hit a predefined engagement level, suggesting a higher chance of converting into paying customers.

Making SQLs and MQLs play nicely together in your lead scoring system is key to a seamless handoff between marketing and sales, leading to more efficient lead conversion and a boost in your overall sales and marketing ROI.

Step 4: Align the content strategy

You want to make sure that the content your marketing team is producing aligns with what your sales team needs.

Let’s say your sales team is receiving numerous questions from prospects about a specific feature of your product or service. They keep hearing the same concern over and over again. This is where marketing can create a blog post, customer case study, or white paper that addresses that specific concern. ✍️

The result? Your sales team can now confidently share this content with potential customers, making their lives easier and closing deals faster. It’s all about creating that perfect harmony between what marketing generates and what the sales team needs to seal the deal. 

Content the sales team may ask for: 

  • Product videos that showcase the features and benefits of your product or service.
    Customer case studies that provide social proof and build trust.
  • User guides, manuals, and FAQs that address customers’ questions and concerns.
  • Lead nurturing emails that gently guide leads through the buying process.
  • Industry reports that highlight trends, challenges, and solutions.

Step 5: Follow up and optimise

Regularly analyse data to measure the impact of marketing campaigns on lead generation and sales. Are marketing-generated leads converting into customers? Which campaigns are most effective, and which need improvement?

Use analytics tools to gain insights into what’s working and what’s not.

Based on feedback and data analysis, be ready to adjust marketing and sales strategies. If certain campaigns or tactics are underperforming, reallocate resources to more successful ones. Continuously refine your approach to improve lead quality and the overall sales and marketing process.

Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate the success of your smarketing efforts. Regularly report on progress and make data-driven decisions to enhance your strategy.

In conclusion, aligning sales and marketing teams, known as smarketing, is not just a modern buzzword but a fundamental strategy for business success. By following these steps, your sales and marketing teams can work together harmoniously, creating a consistent customer experience that attracts, engages, and delights your audience. Smarketing is the key to a customer-centric approach that leads to long-term success in today’s competitive landscape.