How “Smarketing” Paired With Software Can Help Align Sales and Marketing

A few years back, Hubspot coined the term “smarketing.” This refers to the alignment of sales and marketing, created through frequent and direct communication between the two teams.

But aligning sales and marketing isn’t always easy. It can be difficult to know where to start, or how to use technology to support the process.

To help, we’ll cover three key steps to choosing and using software to boost alignment at your organization.

  1. Ditch Manual Methods, Use Software Instead
  2. Integrate Your Sales and Marketing Software
  3. Develop Shared Agreements

Salespeople are able to provide really valuable feedback from front-line conversations about what content gives them the most leverage and is useful for leads. Since inbound sales and inbound marketing are educational processes, the content strategy needs to be tightly aligned.

Mark Roberge, chief revenue officer at HubSpot

How Smarketing Works

Before we dive into the three steps, let’s take a look at what’s involved with smarketing.

In a nutshell: Inbound marketers produce content that addresses groups of buyers (known as “personas”). Meanwhile, inbound salespeople provide specific pieces of marketing content (e.g., white papers or blog articles) to individual buyers.

Based on their sales interactions, reps gain additional insight into what buyers care about and communicate this to the marketing team. Marketers then use buyer information to create better content, and so on.

 

The Smarketing Feedback System

Businesses that align their sales and marketing teams in this way can certainly reap the benefits.

Aberdeen Research, a technology and services company, found companies that are “best-in-class” at aligning marketing and sales experience an average 20 percent growth in annual revenue—while laggard organizations see a 4 percent decline.

When companies can optimize the buying experience and make it seamless for the customer, they have a huge competitive advantage.

Mark Roberge, chief revenue officer at HubSpot

Ditch Manual Methods, Use Software Instead

Manually tracking customer information is time-consuming, error-prone and hard to gain real-time insights from. As customer data grows larger, productivity and sales can suffer even further as a result of manual methods.

Case in point: Hubspot finds unsuccessful sales teams are two times more likely to use Excel, Outlook or physical files to store lead and customer data—and nine times more likely not to even know where this information is stored. Fortunately, problems like these can easily be avoided using software.

Generally, smarketers use some combination of a few types of software:

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems help consolidate customer information in a shared location, so everyone has access to just one set of data. While some only offer basic contact management functionality, others are broader suites of multiple applications (such as social CRM or marketing and sales automation).

Marketing automation software automatically tracks campaigns and prospect behavior, and helps qualify leads before they’re passed to sales. Some marketing automation systems also provide inbound marketing tools to help marketers create and distribute content online.

Sales automation software helps reps see pipeline activity and automatically manage accounts, leads and customer interactions. These systems also help businesses generate sales reports and forecasts.

Make sure the software you choose supports your alignment goals, helps create a seamless customer experience and caters to the way your buyers purchase.

For example: If your customers use social media to discuss or research products, look for software that captures social media data (such as a social CRM system, or a marketing automation platform with social media functionality).

The important thing to keep in mind when making a technology decision is that the buyer now has the power instead of the salesperson. The best thing that a technology can do is align the salesperson with the modern buyer’s process and decisions. … A technology that helps sales reps engage in an inbound, personalized sales process is ideal.

Mark Roberge, chief revenue officer at HubSpot

Integrate Your Sales and Marketing Software

For seamless alignment, sales and marketing software should be fully integrated. In other words, these systems should be able to “talk” to each other and automatically sync data between them.

If I can align [my marketing automation software] with my sales software, I’m going to be that much further ahead of the game.

David Meerman Scott, sales and marketing strategist and author of The New Rules of Sales & Service

Some vendors offer fully integrated suites of applications.

Many stand-alone systems can be integrated after purchase by using plug-ins or hiring a developer. Not all systems can integrate, though, so make sure all the software you choose can work together. Without integration, your teams will only have a limited view of the buyer funnel.

For example: Without access to sales reps’ notes and data, marketing teams have no way of knowing if a piece of content helped convert a particular lead, or if having a new piece of content could have prevented a loss.

When software is integrated, all teams have a complete picture of the buyer life cycle at all times. This brings several benefits:

    • Sales teams can access data about online buyer behavior, anticipate buyer pain points and proactively share targeted content.
    • Marketers can see what content works best at the bottom of the funnel, and act quickly to fill any gaps or generate more of the content that drives results.
    • When they can see buyers’ context across the entire funnel, sales and marketing can collaborate to fix problems and do more of what works without extra effort.

Every stage of the marketing and sales process is measurable now, and establishing what’s important in that data allows you to test new methods, learn from them and, ultimately, adopt new techniques to improve efficiency.

Mark Roberge, chief revenue officer at HubSpot

Develop Shared Agreements

With integrated sales and marketing software in place, businesses set the stage for successful smarketing. However, Scott says that even with the right tools, teams can run into snags if they don’t outline clear responsibilities ahead of time.

First, he notes, marketers should make sure to create content that’s focused on pain points, not just products.

When content is too product-centric, salespeople have a harder time using it to answer the full range of buyers’ questions—and, as a result, may struggle to close some deals.

For example: Imagine a buyer wants to purchase a bicycle for their first race. The buyer’s main concern is about transporting the bike to the race’s starting point. Content that talks about the specifications of the vendor’s bikes won’t fully address the buyer’s situation. A blog article with tips on how to disassemble bikes for transport, on the other hand, is much more helpful.

Second, Scott says, some salespeople will fall back on old habits: They may try to push buyers through the sales process with hard-sell tactics, instead of using marketing content to guide buyers along at their own pace. Today, buyers have more power over the purchasing process than they used to—and they aren’t afraid to turn tail on a pushy salesperson.

The truth is, the buyer’s in charge, and when they’re ready, they’re ready. … It’s a really different sales process than it used to be.

David Meerman Scott, sales and marketing strategist and author of The New Rules of Sales & Service

These kinds of issues can create some nasty strifes between marketing and sales teams, which can make it harder to align.

To avoid these situations, get everyone on the same page as early as possible by creating a formal plan for how teams will support each other.

Having a very clear process in place with set expectations ensures that there is a seamless process for marketing, sales and most importantly, the customer.

Mark Roberge, chief revenue officer at HubSpot

Roberge suggests creating a service level agreement (SLA) that outlines these expectations. An SLA should, at the very least:

    • Define the quantity and quality of leads that should come from marketing.
    • Determine when leads should be passed to sales.
    • Include guidelines for how sales reps will handle those leads once they get them (for example, how many leads reps should contact and how fast they should reach out).

SLA agreements are best when they’re co-created. Having both sales and marketing in on the conversation and decision-making process when creating SLAs helps generate buy-in and reduces complaints down the line.

Once these agreements are in place, you can use reports or metrics from the data you track with your sales and marketing software to check whether teams are following through.

Next Steps

For help choosing the best sales and marketing system for your smarketing goals, here are some steps you can take to narrow down your software options and get more information:

    • Click the “Get Pricing” button to your right to get a free consultation with one of our expert Software Advisors.
    • Call Software Advice at (855) 998-8505: In less than 15 minutes, our experienced Software Advisors can get you all the information you need to make an informed decision. After learning your specific functionality and budgetary requirements, they’ll send you a detailed list of products that meet your needs.
    • Email me at lukewallace@softwareadvice.com. I’m available to help start you on the software-selection process or to answer any additional questions you might have about smarketing.

 

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