Today’s B2B companies compete in a high-stakes environment. Customers nowadays conduct a significant amount of research on their own through social media, websites, podcasts, and review sites, and that’s all before even contacting your sales rep! The buying journey is no longer linear – it has evolved to include more nuanced interactions, some digital and automated, and others that are in-person, one-on-one. So how do you provide a seamless experience across all of the people and channels that prospects encounter?
“Smarketing,” which is the alignment of marketing and sales teams around a common revenue goal, is the secret to new customer acquisition, revenue retention, and growth. We’ll let you in on the secret and explain here how to strengthen alignment between your marketing and inside sales teams. In these seven simple steps, you can start smarketing today!
#1 – Revamp Your Company Culture & Structure
To align inside sales and marketing teams, first make sure everyone internally has the same understanding of the modern buyer journey and who is responsible for what aspect of the sales cycle. Each team brings their own strengths to the table. For instance, sales reps have a valuable perspective of the B2B buyer journey from being in the field interacting with customers regularly. Marketing on the other hand has a deep understanding of social science and data analytics on what drives customers through the sales funnel. To educate your teams on the importance of each role, sales and marketing professionals should shadow one another throughout a typical workday. Sales reps can take part in campaign planning, and marketing leaders can participate in sales calls. Both sides then get to experience first-hand what is required for each team member to successfully support the customer at each stage in the sales cycle. This increased respect, acumen, and appreciation for the nuances involved in fulfilling their responsibilities will bring the team closer together and drive better outcomes.
In addition to defining the roles and responsibilities of marketing and sales professionals at your company, bring the teams together physically whenever possible. Offices near each other, team building and social activities, and regularly scheduled check-in meetings will provide sales and marketing professionals with opportunities to build personal relationships and understand each other’s point of view. Teams share goals, strategies, and resources, so why not also celebrate milestones together? Cultivate a fun, engaging, and interactive work environment to encourage alignment.
#2 – Incentivize Collective Goals
Many companies reward marketers based on contributions to revenue growth, though the industry is evolving to focus more on their impact across the entire customer journey experience (CJX). Sales and marketing should coordinate their strategies and resources (i.e. budget) to achieve mutual goals. In a highly competitive business environment, more organizations are allocating additional dollars to marketing in order to fuel the sales pipeline with quality leads. Companies should update compensation structures that tie marketing and sales goals together and reward each team for shared successes.
#3 – Collaborate to Build Customer Personas
Targeting the right prospect is an important step in new B2B customer acquisition for both marketing and inside sales teams. Sales professionals frequently say that marketing doesn’t send quality leads, and marketing says that sales reps don’t adequately follow up with the prospects they send over. In fact, 8 out of 10 decision-makers think sellers are unprepared when approaching a prospect. But by smarketing, sales and marketing can work together to understand their ideal customers – the industry, company size and revenue, and demo-and-psychographic attributes of the buyer – and build shared personas. Continuously monitoring evolutions to these personas enables marketing to better identify and qualify leads for sales, and sales reps will be more engaged and successful.
#4 – Implement a Service Level Agreement
Once marketing and sales are aligned and agree on the same objectives and goals, you’ll be able to maximize the efficiency of the resources at your disposal to increase revenue. A Service Level Agreement is an effective way to lay out the criteria, process, and necessary materials for effective collaboration between sales and marketing. In the agreement, detail who the target audience is (based on the personas you previously created), along with when and how to qualify leads so that the right B2B leads are sent from marketing to sales to initiate contact. Second, institute criteria for sales to reach out to the prospect and keep them engaged throughout the CJX. Within this, you’ll want to include the recommended timeframe and frequency for follow-up, and serving prospects and existing customers with relevant messaging at the right time and through the optimal channel will get you closer to closing the sale.
#5 – Measure What Matters
Misalignment of sales and marketing can result from measuring the wrong metrics at the wrong times in the customer journey. B2B companies that establish shared KPIs for evaluation and enlist both sales and marketing pros in performance measurement can reduce risk and speed up the timeline to deal close. The number of qualified leads, conversion rates, length of the sales cycle, and marketing campaign effectiveness are KPIs that will drive smarketing productivity and company profitability. The more informed and objective that sales and marketing teams are about the customer’s experience, the better you can strategize when and how to personalize your outreach to each customer at the most opportune moments in the buying journey.
#6 – Consistently Communicate
The stakes of B2B buying have risen to new heights, and better positioning your value proposition will keep you at the top of your game. Business systems, software, and technology must work faster and more efficiently to help sellers meet modern customer demands. Customers today are informed and take initiative in researching purchases from a variety of sources. Sources include review sites, social media pages (both your own corporate accounts and those of industry thought leaders), marketing collateral, websites, and more. If messaging is not consistent, the consumer will have an unpredictable brand experience across all your communication channels and likely become confused. B2B buyers are often 57% of the way through the sales process before even connecting with a rep, so it’s important to deliver a clear, harmonious, and engaging experience.
Smarketing will synchronize your messaging across internal communications, content marketing, and external communication channels. Collaboration between marketing and sales on the development and dissemination of messaging ensures accuracy and consistency. Companies can provide training and technology to learn and practice talking points, educate, and interact with one another. Not only does your B2B buyer benefit, but communication among internal teams will improve as well.
#7 – Selling Smarter
The salesperson’s role is to build trust and understand the problems and needs of the buyer. Reps are most effective when they ask the right questions, listen closely, understand customer pain points, and touch on the emotional aspects of each B2B buyer’s decision. Marketing data – such as website and social media activity, search history, email engagement, and webinar registrations – is a goldmine of actionable information and will help sales do their jobs much more effectively!
Additionally, smarketing should have a positive impact on campaign and content effectiveness. By regularly meeting with their sales reps on the front lines, marketing pros can understand what content and messages are resonating with buyers and then use that information to optimize campaigns going forward. They can focus more on what buyers want and less on what they don’t. On the other side of the street, marketing should always keep sales teams apprised of new content that’s coming out. Whether it’s a webinar, blog, whitepaper, or infographic, reps can share these pieces on social media to attract and educate prospects and also help move them through the sales funnel once engaged. A little effort here will go a long way in driving new customer acquisition – don’t pass up that opportunity.
Aligning sales and marketing at your business improves workplace culture, operations, procedures, and most importantly, boosts the bottom line. Visit our website to learn how ServiceSource helps companies worldwide grow and retain revenue, improve customer satisfaction, and nourish customer relationships. Download our whitepaper, The New B2B Sales Reality, to understand how the sales game has changed and what you need to do to keep up with the competition. Or, if you’ve decided to take the plunge and are ready to improve your sales team today, reach out to request a meeting.