Smarketing: how to get your Sales and Marketing aligned

By Peri Lyon, 16 December 2021 | 8 mins read

First, there was Bennifer. Then Brangelina and Kimye. Next, there was Bennifer 2.0 (the 2021 reboot). And now there is Smarketing. Of all these delightful unions, it’s the final one that’s most likely to last (sorry, Bennifer). Because when Sales and Marketing work together, something magical happens. We’re going to explain why this partnership’s so powerful and how you can build your own. Introducing Smarketing: the ultimate power couple.

What is ‘Smarketing’?

Sales + Marketing = Smarketing. A business strategy where the two teams work closely together, towards the same strategic goals. Get it right, and Smarketing can achieve some impressive results. Take a look below.

Stat attack

  • Organisations with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions enjoyed 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates, according to MarketingProfs.
  • Sirius Decisions found that companies that align sales and marketing teams achieve 24% faster growth rates and 27% faster profit growth over a year period.

The Benefits of Smarketing

The numbers don’t lie: Smarketing can make a serious impact on the bottom line. Higher revenues, higher customer retention rates and accelerated annual revenue growth. That alone should be enough to make you give the concept serious consideration, but it’s not the only reason. Read about the great things that happen when Sales and Marketing come together.

Happier customers

When there’s sales and marketing alignment, there’s a better customer experience. Without it, customers can fall through the cracks. Problems such as incorrect orders or slow reimbursements can be caused and exacerbated by a lack of collaboration between teams. To avoid a lead getting lost or a customer being passed from pillar to post, there needs to be close communication so information’s passed on.

Greater efficiency

Why have two different teams, working to different goals, using up valuable resources? With Smarketing, you have a single, streamlined, unified plan instead of two unconnected strategies. A coherent joint approach avoids unnecessary waste and builds understanding between the two teams. When Sales and Marketing join forces, they’re both more efficient.

Better Return on Investment

Ah, the holy grail of business: better ROI. How does Smarketing improve it? Through shared insights and data. When Sales teams can see how leads behave online and profile customers, they can personalise communications, raising their chances of closing a sale. And when Marketing can see where leads originate and which are most likely to convert to customers, they can focus their attention on these – therefore boosting the figures.

Staying competitive

The world has changed. The sales practices that worked 20 or even 10 years ago are no longer effective. In the past, businesses pinned their hopes on cold calling and ‘spray and pray’. This no longer works. Today, the sales funnel is more of a marketing-driven funnel, with social media and digital marketing playing an ever-larger role. Customers do their own research before a purchase and only seek sales contact right at the end of the process. With this shift in customer behaviour, Sales and Marketing must be integrated, with a clear Smarketing strategy. Siloed departments simply can’t produce the same results as a unified operation.

Better productivity and morale

When Sales and Marketing are separate, division and mistrust can thrive. Each team doggedly follows its own goals, ignoring the perspective of colleagues in other departments. This isn’t just bad for business, it’s bad for morale. Negative emotions and lack of understanding = an unhappy workforce.

How to bring Sales and Marketing together

So, you’ve decided that a happy marriage of Sales and Marketing is the way forward. Ready to play matchmaker? Here’s our handy guide to laying the groundwork for a fruitful union.

1. Make sure both teams are on the same page

Smarketing relies on clear and frequent communication, and shared vocabulary. Your teams must speak the same language and agree an ideal customer profile. This will help Marketing to target the right people, and Sales, the right organisations. Everyone should be on the same page, with a clear idea of what point a lead should pass between the two teams.

2. Make it official – with an SLA

A marriage is a contract, and this one is no exception. Draw up a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that sets out the roles of each team and the lead generation process. Get details down in black and white, such as the number of leads you’re aiming for and how Sales will follow up. If any confusion arises, the SLA should clear it up.

3. One funnel to rule them both

Sales and Marketing must share the same funnel, maintaining consistent message and tone throughout. Marketing will manage the start (or top) of the process and Sales, the end (or bottom). In between, both teams must combine their efforts to create a smooth transition, so the lead remains engaged. Create a slick operation so customers don’t see the join.

4. Get tech talking

It’s not just your teams that need to be on the same page – your tech needs to be too. Data must be shared, so your systems need to sync. When sales and marketing software is integrated, Smarketing can see the entire buying lifecycle, from lead/visitor to customer. And when both teams can see the full picture, they can spot patterns, refine strategies and nip problems in the bud. Integrating tech also makes sense from a cost perspective. Shared solutions such as automation and CRMs cost less than two separate systems.

5. Set up ‘closed-loop’ reporting

With closed-loop reporting, both Sales and Marketing can see what’s going on. Sales report back to Marketing on leads – on the quality and final outcome – and Marketing use this information to fine-tune their operations.

What to avoid…

If you follow the rules above, you should be well on your way to a happy Smarketing marriage. But what if you’ve followed all the advice but something’s just not working? To keep acrimonious break-ups at bay, keep an eye out for these common Smarketing obstacles. No one ever said that marriages aren’t hard work…

Each team wants different things

As with any marriage, both parties have to want the same things. If they don’t share the same goals, there’s no future in the relationship. It’s therefore vital to make sure that Sales and Marketing are pulling in the same direction. Make sure that your company culture encourages collaboration instead of letting each department follow its own agenda. If there’s a silo mentality, there will always be a disconnection.

No chemistry

When teams aren’t interested in integrating, the problems begin to stack up: overlaps in activity, lack of efficiency, oversights in lead generation. The result? Lost leads and wasted opportunities. Your teams need to be excited about co-operating for alchemy to happen.

No support from managers

And how do you get teams excited about co-operating? Step forward your superstar managers. They play a crucial role, explaining the concept to staff and inspiring buy-in to Smarketing. Top level sponsorship is all very well, but there needs to be guidance and encouragement on the ground. If you don’t get managers on board, teams may not be motivated.

No joint reporting

You’ll never achieve Smarketing synergy if both teams are reporting independently and being rewarded for different goals. Incentivise performance based on the results of both departments if you want to get both teams firing on all cylinders.

He said, She said

You’ve married Sales and Marketing, set up a shared funnel and got your tech aligned. But you haven’t got a happy couple. You’ve got resentment, mistrust and blame. Marketing claim that Sales aren’t providing the data needed to generate leads. And Sales say that Marketing efforts to attract high worth customers are simply falling short. There needs to be greater mutual understanding and more emphasis on ‘one team’. Encourage closer ties and an open, supportive culture if you want a true Smarketing love-in.

Successful Smarketing in action: Maverick case studies

That’s what happens when Smarketing goes wrong. But what happens when it goes right? As luck would have it, we’ve got a great example. Read on…

Take a global logistics client with 100,000 employees worldwide. Now create two crucial programmes – one for sales training and one for content marketing programmes – in a matching creative style. By aligning these two crucial elements, our team helped DHL to give customers a seamless journey to the purchase of its e-commerce solution. It was a marvellous chance to think Maverick (and pick up the odd award).

So, how exactly did that work?

First of all, Hive, our digital innovation and transformation collective, created a new brand platform stuffed full of compelling content that got prospective customers hooked. Applying the same creative treatment, Engage, our internal engagement team, created a unique, multi-channel learning and engagement programme – Power Up Your Potential – for DHL’s Sales talent. With the Sales team picking up where the marketing content left off, DHL reached and converted a whole new raft of e-commerce customers.

If you’d like to know more about these projects, you can read about them here and here. And if you’d like to know more about Smarketing, we’d be happy to help. Ensuring clients make the most of their resources is second nature to all our expert teams. Find out for yourself. Get in touch.