Sales and Marketing Alignment, also known as Smarketing , has been found to raise the likelihood of deals closing by 67% and drive revenue from marketing-generated leads up by 209%. Along with closing deals and gaining revenue, Smarketing efforts have also been found to lead to more accurate targeting, increases in sales productivity, and builds up morale and job satisfaction. If that sounds like a win to you, here’s a few steps you can take towards aligning your revenue teams.

1. Become One

One team, one path, one message, one goal. Alright, so you will still technically have two teams and many goals, but the path and messaging for both teams should be the same.

Perhaps NFL legend Vince Lombardi said it best, “Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

Maybe the work from your smarketing team won’t affect an entire civilization, but with proper alignment, chances are you’ll reach a few more of its civilians than if you worked separately. This movement starts at the very top with the initiative being driven by the CEO. It involves getting all of the VP’s and Executive level management for both teams together in one room until there is agreement and enthusiasm to operate the two teams more closely than ever before.

If management is hesitant or resistant, it will show, and that attitude will leak down into the wider team and could sabotage the efforts. It may be necessary to bring in an outside professional that has direct experience with sales and marketing alignment to help guide the endeavor.

team alignment
truthseeker08 / Pixabay

Next will be bringing in all of mid-level and direct management and tasking them with being the everyday eyes, ears, and guiding hands in the operation. They know their teams best and it will be their responsibility to keep everyone focused and enthusiastic, or at least open-minded and cooperative, about the alignment efforts.

2. Create a playbook

Now that you have buy-in, you’ll need to figure out exactly how you’re going to set your new aligned smarketing team up for success. Put your entire strategy from top to bottom in a playbook.

It’s critical to involve your teams in this process as they are the ones with the direct experience with prospects. This also encourages participation and buy-in. Here are a few things to make sure to include in your playbook:

  • Shared Terminology – Without alignment, sales and marketing speak similar languages but with terminology and phrasing that may be different or hard to understand between them. Your playbook will set the tone with the overall voice and language that the entire team will utilize moving forward.
  • Aligned funnel – It’s common for both departments to work off of their own version of a funnel with their own interpretations of the prospect’s journey through the funnel. Your playbook should combine those separate funnels into one and outline responsibilities and owners along with each stage in the funnel.
  • Common goals – There will still be marketing-specific and sales-specific goals, but they should be striving along the same path toward one ultimate goal. It’s a good idea to also include combined goals that are based specifically on collaborative efforts.

3. Have a kick-off

Now that you have your playbook, it’s time to set the wheels in motion. Your smarketing kick-off meeting should include an intro of the reasoning behind the effort from your top-level management so everyone in the room understands this is a company-wide effort.

Direct management can take over to run through the playbook in its entirety and answer any questions or respond to any concerns from team members. Individual contributors should have a voice in this meeting. If there are grievances, you should get them out on the table and handle them right away.

Make sure in this meeting that joint incentives and expected impact (such as higher and faster conversion rates, i.e. higher comp attainment) are highlighted to get people really excited about working together.

4. Weren’t you taught to share? Work from the same data

Every day, marketing receives loads of implicit (actions prospects take) and explicit (demographic) data to consider around leads. How many people have visited a certain webpage, who filled out a form to gain access to a gated white paper, how many people clicked on a link in an email?

Marketers use all of this data to make informed decisions on things like ideal customer personas, targeting, content development, the data drives a majority of the action they take and strategies they develop.

On the other end of the spectrum, salespeople are in direct communication with prospects all day long. They know exactly which questions prospects are asking or what kind of information they are requesting. They could be driving prospects to marketing content and will be able to gauge their reactions to that information.

Marketing may also receive some feedback from prospects and leads through surveys, focus groups, and specific requests for information, but sales is engulfed in that world every day. The amount of feedback they are receiving far outweighs what the marketing department could collect from a survey.

data analytics
PhotoMIX-Company / Pixabay

Both teams have access to extremely valuable information about prospects that can and should guide your overall strategy when it comes to engaging with prospects. Combining these powerful data sets will help develop a more complete and clearer picture of your ideal customers and customer journeys.

5. Develop content together

Speaking of feedback and data, all of this can be extremely useful when deciding what kind of content to develop next. Use that direct feedback from sales on what questions prospects are asking, how they are receiving content, and about what they are requesting more information.

Chances are, if prospects weren’t finding the information they needed, their salesperson probably didn’t know there was an existing white paper about that so they were creating something on their own to win that opportunity.

Using the combination of incoming data and direct feedback, bring your smarketing team together to brainstorm ideas for topics, types of content, and even timing for delivery of things like automated emails.

This should create higher utilization rates because content will be more specifically targeted and also sales will be aware of and excited to share it with their leads directly.

6. Trade jobs for a day

OK, maybe not for an entire day, but humans have a way of understanding the perspective of someone else once they have walked in their shoes. Have your marketing reps pair up with a salesperson 1-to-1.

The goal of this exercise will be to learn how the “other half” lives. It will be important that they go in curious, ask questions, figure out what kind of tasks their counterpart is responsible for, what they struggle within a day, and what they get really excited about.

Marketing can sit with sales for a couple of hours, listen to calls and voicemails, watch a live demo, and if they get really brave, maybe jump into a live chat or call with a prospect.

Sales can hang out with marketing to see all of the data channels they have constantly coming in and how the marketer analyzes and handles it all. They could watch how an ad is developed and strategically placed, or help write an article.

Don’t instruct anyone to do anything out of the ordinary, the goal is to see what a normal day looks like. Everyone should walk away from this experience with a better understanding of the human aspect of each department, along with a little fresh knowledge or even some new skills.

7. Huddle up – Open up the channels of communication

Once there is a level of understanding and empathy between the teams, it will be extremely important they have communication channels to continue to develop those relationships as well as provide important information and feedback in real time.

First, there should be a regular rhythm for meetings with the entire team. Most likely you could do this once a month. In this meeting you should discuss results, successes, and any struggles people are having or changes to be made.

Another good idea is to pair this meeting day with a social gathering of some kind for all team members. It’s important they get to know each other in and outside of work to develop the strongest, most collaborative relationship.

It is also a good idea to have smaller groups meet from time to time, focus groups. Sometimes people are hesitant to talk in front of an entire group but do well in a smaller, more focused setting. These groups can be extremely useful for brainstorming and problem solving.

Finally, you’ll need to make sure to provide a solution to allow everyone to easily communicate and collaborate throughout the work day. This should include a chat function but also have a hub where documentation (like your playbook) can be stored, shared, and updated regularly.

This level of collaboration allows for real-time feedback, ability to ask questions while a prospect is on the line, and a central source of truth and instruction to free management from needing to constantly handle everyone’s questions.