"Smarketing": Integrating Marketing and Sales for Best Results
I once worked for the marketing department at a company that had little communication with our sales staff. Upon starting the job, I quickly noticed tension between the two departments. When I asked why our departments didn’t work together more closely, no one could definitively answer my question. Our failure to collaborate was problematic. We were never on the same page, we operated under different objectives, executed different strategies (sometimes in conflict with each other) and never leaned on each other for advisement or expertise. It’s no surprise that the few successes we tallied were often in spite of each other.
Unfortunately, this situation isn’t atypical. Sales and marketing often operate as two separate units, each with their own set of responsibilities and leadership. The individuals who make up each team often boast different skill sets. Marketing tends to focus on the long term, while sales generally operates in the short term, focusing on right-now results. Often there is friction—sometimes stemming from a fight for control or credit for success.
Typically, the marketing staff is tasked with spreading awareness, educating and engaging prospects on products or services and delivering leads to the sales staff for follow-through. The sales staff is in charge of nurturing and ultimately converting these leads into sales. Ideally, this process would be a fluid handoff from one team to another with both providing contributions to the results. Rather than dividing and conquering, both departments should work together!
Experts agree. In fact, in a Harvard Review Case Study, Professor Thomas Steenburgh coined the term “Smarketing.” Smarketing refers to the alignment between a company’s sales and marketing staffers, created and encouraged by frequent, direct communication between the two. Great results have been gained from close alignment between the two departments. SiriusDecisions, a research and advisory firm, discovered that organizations with “tightly aligned marketing and sales” saw 24% faster revenue growth and 27% faster profit growth over a three-year period.
If you’re leading a sales or marketing team, start by collaborating with your colleagues in these ways:
Setting Objectives and Strategies
Do this together! Being on the same page from the beginning is a great start. Lean on each other’s expertise and bring more ideas to the table from the get-go. Planning together should create more buy-in from both sides and clear understanding of outcomes and roles and responsibilities for those outcomes.
Better Understand Target Audiences
Often, the sales department has a closer relationship with customers because they’re the ones communicating with them most directly. They can provide great insight to the marketing staff, who can adjust their targeting and messaging to better serve the audiences they’re trying to reach.
Work through results together. Celebrate your successes and learn from any mistakes as a unit. Use your findings to optimize and plan for the future. Ideally, sales and marketing teams should work together in a variety of ways, play off of each other’s expertise, and ultimately. achieve greater results.
These three collaborative suggestions are three steps in the right direction.