To create a fruitful customer experience, marketers and sales leaders must build their combined strategies atop a foundation of trust, transparency, and shared goals.
When sales and marketing teams work closely together, they’ll unlock new opportunities and, ultimately, win new business by bridging gaps between marketing and sales touchpoints.
Smarketing in the Wild: Account-Based Marketing
Account-based Marketing (ABM) is a growth strategy in which marketing and sales work together to target a select set of prospects. This marketing tactic is proven to attract high-value accounts through personalization, intentional nurturing, and strong sales and marketing alignment.
ABM requires close collaboration between sales and marketing teams to identify target accounts, then develop experiences that resonate with decision-makers and the larger buying committee. Successful ABM strategies lean heavily on marketing and sales insight to reach the right accounts, with the right message, at the right time.
Sales and marketing should work together to allocate resources for each target account, then assign cross-functional responsibilities to ensure a seamless transition between marketing and sales activities. They’ll also need to define mutually beneficial milestones and measures of success. Ideally, sales and marketing teams will also lean on each other’s existing customer data and market insights to ensure messaging aligns with customer needs, past sales experiences, and larger industry trends.
Overcoming the Challenges of Smarketing
Sales and marketing alignment is a necessity in any organization, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to establish and maintain. Smarketing synergy requires your sales and marketing teams to stick together as they pursue numerous moving targets, including:
- Cross-functional goals and KPIs
- Buyer personas and associated messaging
- Lead qualification
- The marketing-to-sales handoff process
- Data visibility and centralization
Tackling these initiatives and serving your customers consistently can be challenging. If you’re noticing gaps between these two teams, you’re not alone. In fact, 90% of sales and marketing professionals point to multiple disconnects across strategy, process, content, and culture. (LinkedIn, 2020)
Sales-marketing friction doesn’t stem from conscious dislike or intentional sabotages between departments. Instead, it’s caused by a lack of visibility, communication, or understanding of the other team’s strategic initiatives.
When your marketing and sales teams are misaligned, you’ll have siloed operations that cause internal friction and create a disjointed customer experience. Signs of poor alignment include:
- Bumpy, or even botched, lead handoffs between marketing and sales.
- Inconsistent or incomplete data that makes it difficult to track ROI on marketing and sales efforts.
- Low conversion rates and/or poor customer retention rates.
Above all, these disparate efforts result in unpredictable customer experiences that don’t resonate with your prospects or make them feel understood by your marketing or sales teams.
The good news is, you can achieve smarketing bliss by adopting tools, tactics, and techniques that support seamless collaboration between both departments.
The Winning Formula for Smarketing Synergy
Now that we’ve discussed the multi-faceted benefits of successful smarketing, it’s time to take a closer look at execution.
There’s a winning formula behind every growth strategy, and smarketing is no exception. Sales and marketing synergy is built upon trust and collaboration and can be achieved through:
- Seamless, automated transitions
- Consistent, personalized messages
- Timely engagement
- A single source of truth
Seamless, automated transitions
There’s nothing more frustrating for marketers than handing off a great lead to sales, only to hear that they dropped off down the line. On the flip side, sales teams get bogged down when they receive leads who aren’t ready to convert or don’t fit pre-defined criteria.
To succeed, both teams need a clear understanding of which leads to handoff, when they’re coming down the pipeline, and how sales will engage with them post-handoff.
Marketing-to-sales handoffs can be complex, but automated workflows and standardized processes can help keep everyone on the same page.
Consistent, personalized messages
Messaging forms the foundation of both marketing and sales strategies. Marketers use analytics and research to create on-brand, personalized content that resonates with their target audience and nurtures them down the marketing funnel. Sales teams rely on similar messaging to articulate why your company’s products and services are the best solutions to customers’ challenges.
But even if both teams develop on-target messaging, poor collaboration can leave customers feeling the disconnect between departments. What’s more, your employees will get frustrated tracking down context from several sources or reframing sales pitches to align with marketing content they didn’t know existed.
Building comprehensive buyer personas can help your teams identify right-fit clients, unify messaging, and ensure your prospects enjoy a consistent experience across touchpoints.
Your marketing team likely uses automation to nurture leads with perfectly timed emails or other forms of communication. At the same time, your sales team relies on industry best practices to identify the best times to connect with prospects based on their time zones or other pre-defined factors.
In the spirit of collaboration, your smarketing strategy should dictate how both teams will work together to accurately time cross-functional efforts. They’ll need clear guidance and accountability on:
- When handoffs will occur, and how frequently
- How long sales team members have to reach out to new leads
- When and how they’ll follow up on subsequent sales tasks
Clear communication and transparency will help both teams meet their deadlines — and customers’ expectations — with ease and efficiency.
Single source of truth
Data is integral to successful marketing and sales efforts. However, if that data is incomplete, outdated, or inaccessible, smarketing alignment is virtually impossible.
Imagine your marketing team is halfway through a campaign for one of your products, only to discover that your sales team has been running a blitz on a different one. Or, imagine your salesperson hops on a call with nothing but a prospect’s basic contact information since the details of their previous interactions reside in a separate marketing database.
To succeed at smarketing, you need to ensure that customer and market data is not only centralized but accurate and easily accessible across every team.
In fact, in a recent survey conducted by HubSpot, we found at least 45% of respondents across marketing, sales, and service teams agree that a CRM with tools on one platform enables teams to perform better towards goals.
With an all-on-one CRM you can build stronger connections with customers as an organization and connect sellers more effectively with buyers. This ultimately helps with alignment, stronger connections among your data and systems, greater ROI in your tech stack, and resiliency when faced with economic challenges.