How to align Sales and Marketing for sales enablement

How to align Sales and Marketing for sales enablement

Any chief marketing officer (CMO), RevOps specialist, and sales or marketing team member can tell you that there can be a significant disconnect between the marketing and sales teams. This disconnect isn’t just a potential cause for tension, but it can also cause substantial lost revenue.

And while everyone plays a vital role in sales enablement, it’s clear that you need marketing and sales fully aligned for everyone to be more successful. And with the right strategies and processes in place, that’s entirely possible.

So how do you get marketing and sales on the same page for a fully effective sales enablement? Whether you’re in one of these departments, a RevOps specialist, or a CMO or CRO, read on: We’ll show you how to align marketing and sales in a few easy steps.

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What is Smarketing?

If you’re deeply invested in sales enablement, you’ve probably heard the term “smarketing.”

Simply put, sales + marketing = smarketing. It’s a highly effective portmanteau that stresses the importance of aligning these two crucial departments.

When smarketing is done correctly, it can shorten the sales cycle, increase revenue through marketing, and boost serious ROI.

Understanding Smarketing

Smarketing (and alignment between the two departments) is a business-changing, revenue-revolutionizing strategy. The goal is to improve communication and effective collaboration between both teams to truly work towards a common goal.

They should all be sharing a common audience, and with common KPIs.

When both parties are on the same page, you’ve got two teams with the same understanding of your ideal customer profile (ICP), what actions help push users through the funnel, and what a qualified lead looks like.

They can work together to achieve the same goal, which can help shorten the sales cycle and more effectively understand how the entire sales funnel is impacted.

By measuring the impact that marketing has on sales, you can determine which campaigns are most effective and allocate your resources accordingly. You aren’t just seeing “this campaign drove a lot of leads,” but which campaigns drove leads that converted.

When you don’t, it can be chaos. Marketing might be prioritizing marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), while sales wants product-qualified leads (PQLs) and sales-qualified leads (SQLs). They might have different information— or opinions— on what audiences are best to target and the best path to qualifying them.

It’s easy for misaligned teams to chase different goals, even if both teams ultimately want to help the business increase revenue.

What if Your Sales and Marketing Aren’t Aligned?

We’ve touched on what can happen when sales and marketing aren’t on the same page, where your teams can quickly end up chasing different leads or optimizing different parts of the funnel.

But how catastrophic can it really be?

Pretty catastrophic.

Your teams may end up:

  • Not talking about money, and having budget discrepancies
  • Not using closed-loop reporting
  • Being hesitant to give feedback
  • Using different terminology across teams, causing confusion even when they do sync up
  • Creating redundant content or messaging
  • Missing deadlines
  • Bad team morale and tension in the workplace, creating an “us vs. them” environment
  • An overly complicated workflow that delays progress instead of advancing it

Here’s How You Can Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams

All of the above sound pretty unpleasant, expensive, and frustrating. All around not things that your business wants to deal with.

So, how to align your sales and marketing team for one conjoined smarketing sales force? Let’s take the nine steps you need to start taking right now.

Invest in Strong Leadership

Building a truly cohesive sales and marketing alignment means investing in strong leadership.

Your leadership needs to be able to bring these two potentially disparate departments together and get them on the same page— especially if there’s ever been tension in the past between them.

Your leadership will be responsible for setting clear goals and communicating regularly with both teams. They also need to invest in training programs to help them stay up-to-date on the latest trends in your industry.

And while marketing and sales will always, to some extent, have a bit of their own priorities, it’s crucial for leadership to keep everyone focused on the KPIs that have been set for the team— reminding them of what the end goal of success looks like— and keeping everyone on track. This means training teams both together and separately to embrace the new workflows.

Make sure you’re choosing leaders who have their eyes on the prize, so to speak, and who are open to hearing and receiving feedback or ideas but who won’t be swayed too far in one direction. This can be risky if you’re putting someone from either marketing or sales in this position if there’s been tension in the past, so you may need to consider an outside hire.

Check-In Regularly

Your leadership team won’t just need to train their employees; they’ll also need to be checking in regularly to see how the workflow is really, well, working.

Make sure you’re regularly assessing both teams’ current needs and challenges. Identify possible solutions that can streamline their processes, and increase not only their productivity but their efficiency.

While you always want to have a general “what can we do to help you?” question during formal check-ins, you can also ask pointed questions to ask about the following:

  • Lead generation efforts
  • Quality of their leads
  • The effectiveness of their communication with customers

Track KPIs Closely

It will also be important to closely watch key metrics like conversion rates, the average deal size, customer lifetime value (LTV), and other KPIs that you’ve set for the team. The numbers rarely lie, and they can give you real, quantifiable data about how your current smarketing campaigns and processes are working for your brand.

KPI Dashboard

To keep track of these metrics and identify any potential issues, you may need to use a sales tracking tool or CRM software. They can help you analyze sales data and identify trends over time, allowing you to make more informed decisions about how to support your team going forward.

Encourage Team-First Culture

Creating a team-first culture (as opposed to an “it’s not my job” culture or a “marketing-first” culture) is essential. Leadership will play an important role here.

This is something that will take some time (and likely more than a few meetings) to accomplish. The following tips can help:

  • Let your teams know that you want feedback, and actively listen to it when it’s brought in by your team members
  • Share credit for successes and show appreciation for team members’ contributions to those successes
  • Create opportunities for collaborative work from the ground up, including brainstorming sessions or cross-functional projects
  • Having team leaders from marketing and sales each working closely with each other, with recommended regular check-ins (like weekly or monthly, depending on the size of your organization)
  • Occasional team-building opportunities, whether it’s a catered lunch once a month, an after-work happy hour, or an afternoon at TopGolf

Remember that cultivating a team-first work culture between marketing and sales will require ongoing and sometimes constant attention and effort. Helping all team members to feel valued, supported, and motivated to success is essential.

Talk About Your Ideal Personas

One of the most detrimental possibilities when sales and marketing aren’t aligned is that they can easily end up focusing on different ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and buyer personas. Few things will hurt your pipeline more despite good effort on all team members’ parts.

As we’ve mentioned above, we’ve seen cases where marketing targets a high-converting group that regularly engages with lead magnets and free trials, but sales is focused on a different type of ICP that converts into paying customers more often and/or at higher average order values. And if marketing is sending the wrong type of leads to sales, you’ll see the overall sales falter.

Traffic Dashboard

So have both teams on board and clear about what your different ICPs are. They need to understand what this looks like in terms of buyer personas. Once everyone is on board, they can effectively create relevant messaging that hits home with each target group and properly address any gaps in the funnel.

You need to have a clear understanding of the needs and motivations of leads, buyers, and customers. Marketers can create stronger campaigns that really hit those pain points and motivations. By doing this, they’re opening the door for sales to best personalize their interactions and strategies for different potential customers.

Because of this, it is necessary to properly qualify leads to understand which audience segment they fall under. The process may include:

  • Tracking which lead magnets users convert on, attributing to them to the correct buyer persona accordingly
  • Ask strong qualifying questions on lead forms, free trial sign-ups, and entry contact forms; for many B2B brands, this may include questions about what features the lead plans to use, the size of their company, or the company’s industry
  • Have your sales team check-in upon first contact to clarify this information and make sure they’re put under the right category and to confirm that the assumption based on the presumed personas are accurate

Identify Sales-Ready Leads

A sales-ready lead is one that’s ready to close on a deal with your brand. They’re highly engaged with your products or services and are more likely to purchase soon. It’s about the highest quality lead you can get.

Sales leaders must clearly define what constitutes a sales-ready lead so that everyone involved in the process is working towards that goal.

For example, someone who signs up for a free trial of a SaaS service is not necessarily a sales-ready lead. They could have signed up, used it once, and never used it again; that’s closer to disengaged than engaged. However, someone who has used the tool daily for the full two weeks is a user to look more closely at as a sales-ready lead.

And theoretically, every user could be a customer, but that’s just not really the case. Some users will download ebooks because they want the information and not because they’re a fit for your company.

So have your sales team assess and determine what counts as a sales-ready lead. What actions do they need to take, and what indicators of readiness are they looking for? This needs to be shared with the marketing team so they can create campaigns (especially email and remarketing campaigns) that can support the sales team in getting the leads to that point.

Align the Sales and Marketing Stages According to the Funnel

The digital marketing and sales funnel is a long and complex, with multiple touchpoints. The marketing and sales team often is involved throughout different stages of the funnel in different ways, so getting everyone in the same room and understanding what that looks like is key.

What common touchpoints do the two teams share? What does that look like? And does everyone understand exactly what’s happening at all points of the sales funnel?

These two departments have unique roles, but they do not exist in silos. You need to look at aligning sales and marketing strategies here.

Both teams, for example, will have work to do when a customer first signs up for a product demo.

Marketing will need autoresponder campaigns ready to keep users engaged, and sales will need to reach out directly to get things moving. When everyone is on the same page for who is responsible for what, the customer experience improves.

Landing Page Example

Map out the entire buyer’s journey, and make sure both teams understand what touchpoints they’re responsible for and what happens on the other team at each of them. This process can help create a single smarketing sales funnel instead of having two separate funnels that don’t mesh as well as they should.

Funnel design

If your team can work together throughout the customer lifecycle, there will be fewer gaps for leads to fall through.

Develop a Sales and Marketing SLA Together

A service level agreement (SLA) is a cross-team commitment between two parties, and in this case, we’re looking at an internal SLA between sales and marketing.

The SLA will define deliverables and expectations, and it truly ensures that both teams are on the same page.

This may involve the following:

  • Setting targets for lead generation
  • Stating needed response times
  • Detailing key metrics that are relevant to the sales and marketing process

It’s essential to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each team, and this is how you’re going to do it.

Regular review sessions based on the SLA can help identify areas where adjustments may be needed or where there are opportunities for process improvement.

Invest In Integrated Sales & Marketing Tools

Want an integrated sales and marketing team?

The right tools can help, and failing to use them can derail even the best-laid plans.

In many cases, you may want to look for communication-focused and sales enablement tools. Slack is always a great choice for communication, and it’s well-priced and accessible for organizations of all shapes and sizes.

Content Camel offers sales content management software to help with sales enablement. You can see all the messaging available from the marketing and sales teams in one central location. Tag content so that it’s easy to find, and you can even assign it to specific funnel stages.

Engagement analytics

And when it comes to selling tools, it’s crucial to look for the following features:

  • Real-time data sharing between the two teams, without delays in upload
  • Automated lead scoring and routing
  • Predictive analytics capabilities

Make sure that all of your tools are intuitive and easy to use so that implementing them will cause minimal disruption.

Report on Revenue

Revenue is the name of the game, so it will be an important part for aligning sales and marketing.

You first need to set up marketing attribution so you can more accurately track which digital touchpoints in the sales funnel are driving users your way. There are attribution tools that can help you track users’ movement through the funnel and then assess how much each touchpoint contributed to the conversion.

Leadpages onboarding

Once you have attribution set up, you can assess how well your current initiatives work. You may also spot issues at different points in the funnel that need to be resolved.

Take the information you have to both sales and marketing teams, encouraging them with any wins and addressing any potential places for improvement. This is what you need to boost revenue moving forward.

And remember that revenue isn’t all that matters. It’s important, but you should also take a look at a few other key metrics like customer engagement, conversion rates, and churn to get a good idea of how marketing activities are influencing sales performance.

Final Thoughts: Keeping Your Sales And Marketing Teams Aligned

Remember that when you first start aligning marketing and sales teams, the work is far from over.

You need to put in ongoing work to keep the smarketing team aligned, which requires regular, ongoing communication and collaboration. It also means you need a unified vision of your business’s goals and strategies.

With the right workflows, tools, and strategies in place, you can keep both teams aligned, happy, and successful. If you’re able to do that, you’ll be reaping the rewards in no time.

Ready to make the first step towards creating a smarketing-aligned team? Check out how Content Camel can help!