We are probably long past the time when the sales department and the marketing department can exist in silos, not talking to each other. Instead, the mandate is for both groups to reach alignment and that means more than just opening up some channels of communication and having a meeting together every once in a while. Some experts are calling this alignment smarketing - which our good friend Dan Tyre of HubSpot actually coined. Whatever the case, let’s throw out the buzzword bingo cards and talk about the nuts and bolts of alignment, because it’s a real thing.
Alignment means everyone in both departments is steering in the same direction. It’s that simple, yet it’s not simple at all. It means you have to agree on a direction and you have to agree on goals, plus you have to agree on strategy.
Let’s start with that first one. Rather than brainstorm lots of directions, let’s whittle it down to something simple: the customer. It should be easy to agree that everyone is steering for the customers, whether it’s their attention or their buy-in or closing the sale.
Now let’s talk goals. More than one expert has suggested that marketing and sales establish Service Level Agreements (SLAs) about sales leads. An agreement might require marketing to provide 100 leads a month per product while the sales department would agree to follow-up on those leads within 8 business hours. This might not extinguish all the back and forth about what constitutes a “quality” or “qualified” lead, but it will help establish some metrics.
Show Me The Numbers
Metrics brings up the subject of numbers … and math. Traditionally marketing hasn’t worked with numbers as much as the salespeople have. Sure, they have had advertising budgets and governing financial parameters, but really crunching numbers all the time hasn’t really been on their radar.
Enter social media. With the built-in metrics of Facebook and Twitter (and even YouTube), marketing has started to learn how to use metrics to justify their decisions — even their very existence. It has turned some marketing professionals into converts; they actually like the numbers. Those will be the first to adapt to the numbers being delivered by sales. Sharing metric dashboards between departments is a key indicator that you are getting closer to alignment.
There’s an old saying in advertising from department store magnate John Wanamaker. He said “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half.” There is a convincing case to be made that, since the advent of social media, we do know which half of our ad spending is working and which half is not. That’s why more and more marketing folks are falling in love with metrics.
Tell Me a Story
While living by the numbers is still pretty new to marketing folks, they know a good story when they hear one. Most of them understand that the best marketing messages are really just good stories — whether it’s a TV ad about a kid who thinks he is Darth Vader or a Facebook post showing a dog welcoming home a serviceperson from a deployment or a tweet that mentions how Dawn is helping rescue wildlife from an oil spill. These stories are the essence of inbound marketing.
Marketing wants to tell those stories to customers, but they don’t meet with customers day-in and day-out the way sales does. Talking to customers is the best way to find stories about a company’s products, so the sales department needs to start communicating with marketing about what goes on during a sale. Better yet, they might want to take a marketing team member to a few client meetings so they can ferret out the story themselves.
In one case, the sales and marketing departments for Miranda Technologies participated in a “power messaging” training program designed to get them communicating better. Kevin Joyce, the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer said “his reps attributed $7 million of revenue on the books directly to the power messaging training, and another $19 million in new opportunities.”
In another article, the Aberdeen Group found that “companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieved 20 percent annual revenue growth.”
Now, can you afford not to embark on a quest for smarketing alignment?
Dan believes that marketing has one purpose: to generate sales leads. He is certain the best marketing tactics and sales people are decision-making facilitators, not yes getters and being customer-centric is the only way to be successful in the long run. Dan started Leighton Interactive in 2009 with a vision to help high-growth companies attract and close more ideal customers.
A perpetual student of sales and marketing, Dan focuses on two things: finding clients with problems Leighton Interactive solves and talent with the expertise to solve them.