It wasn’t really that long ago that sales and marketing were thought of as different worlds.
From the perspective of tired old outbound sales and marketing, it almost makes sense.
After all, outbound methods don’t really consider whether or not a solution is the best fit for a prospect. That means sales pros only need to focus on “overcoming objections.”
Marketers, on the other hand, only need to know their audience well enough to corral them into a sales call.
Since none of that has anything to do with the customer’s needs, why bother to talk at all?
Inbound marketing is different, of course.
It puts the decision-maker’s needs front and center in the entire process. Every single detail you know about each prospect and each customer becomes a stepping stone to providing more value. That value, in turn, lays the foundation for a lasting relationship.
With that mindset, it’s obvious sales and marketing should work together more closely than ever.
Luckily, getting the two teams on the same page in a lasting way isn’t as hard as it might seem.
Here’s how to get started:
1. Have Joint Planning Sessions
No matter how you organize your projects, the first step to success is to get teams talking cross-functionally. This is one area where Agile project management, which we use at Bluleadz, really stands out.
At project inception and every step of the way, sales and marketing should share insights to fill in gaps in one another’s knowledge and determine priorities.
2. Swap Experts
What if you have a larger organization where it isn’t feasible for groups to work closely together all the time? The solution is to select an expert from each team to share updates and get fresh information from the other.
This delegate should act as the point person for his or her function and should be treated by the other one as one of the gang, listening in on all strategic plans and offering feedback.
3. Have a Shared Calendar
Inbound digital marketing campaigns are sophisticated and fluid. Marketing and sales will often be working on the same goals from different perspectives.
A shared calendar can give each team clarity on where the other team has been and where it’s going. It can also help keep stakeholders more accountable as you craft a communication strategy that works for everyone.
4. Get to Know Each Other
Collaboration is built on trust, and you can’t have trust unless you spend some time getting to know one another. This is easy if you have a group of less than ten working in a single space, but it gets complex with size.
Look for ways to foster clear communication and buy-in. A range of formal and informal team-building and “mixers” can break down barriers – a blend of on-site and off-site events is best.
5. Watch and Listen In
The best way to really get how a team works is to watch their process as it happens. Ideally, the team delegate would have the opportunity to literally shadow a sales or marketing pro throughout an entire day once a month.
This will take different forms – from observing the production of marketing collateral to listening in on a discovery call with a hot lead, for example.
6. Define What’s Important
Marketers have access to a whole spectrum of broad-based, data-driven information about their prospective buyers, while sales professionals get to hear all the new twists and turns in customer thinking as they emerge.
Each team should determine exactly what information the other side has that’s most useful to their mission. That way, the right facts can be compiled and reported.
7. Report in Regularly
Speaking of reporting, how should you handle that? Ad-hoc note-taking doesn’t usually grasp the breadth or depth of information that has to be communicated across functions.
Like it or not, sales and marketing should trade full reports on what’s new, now, and next at least quarterly. Monthly is even better. Be sure to put these on that joint calendar so they get done!
8. Notice What Works – And What Doesn’t
Like anything else, alignment between teams is a skill. It relies not only on the individuals in each group, but on the culture of the groups as a whole and the enterprise’s tools and priorities.
As you partner cross-functionally, monitor any oversights, mistakes, and complaints – as well as areas where everything runs smoothly. By reflecting on these, you build your own best practices.
With Rigorous Alignment, You Can Have a Well-Oiled “Smarketing” Machine
Let’s face it: Driving alignment can be tough.
The very word alignment points to the key challenge: Both sales and marketing are always in motion. No matter what you’re working on or how you’re communicating, you have to take cues from the other side: To speed up, slow down, anticipate needs, and adapt as required.
It may take some time, but before you know it, you could discover that your “smarketing” is on the next level.
Whenever there’s trouble, let the golden rule of inbound guide what steps you take next: Always search for new ways to create and deliver value to your prospects and customers!