The Smarketing Era Is Upon Us: 3 Tips to Foster Sales and Marketing Alignment

By Jonathan Crowl on January 21, 2020

As silos are broken down within organizations, an increased flow of data and ideas is inspiring collaboration across department lines. But in some cases, the very department lines themselves are starting to get blurred. That's exactly where the term "smarketing" comes from.

As sales and marketing departments have experienced an increasing overlap of not just their data and business activities but their departmental goals, too, businesses are starting to embrace a unification of these departments, aligning their goals and processes to produce greater synergy.

If your brand has been slow to embrace sales and marketing alignment, you need to be able to communicate a strategy for leading this transformation in a way that shows this collaboration will deliver clear value to your organization. Not only that, but this new way of doing things will need to be embraced by everyone, from your C-suite leadership all the way down to the entry-level workers in each of these departments, in order for it to truly work.

So how do you lead this strategic shift? Here are three ways you can recalibrate your company's sales and marketing relationship and usher in a more efficient, productive era of smarketing.

1. Implement an Attribution Model That Dispenses Credit Fairly

Before you can truly align sales and marketing, you need to implement a new strategy for attributing ROI and measuring success. Both sales and marketing are highly numbers-driven departments, and either one would be right to be alarmed by merged operations and increased alignment that threatens to misrepresent their performance and success.

An effective model for combined sales and marketing will need to feature multi-touch attribution: a form of weighted modeling that identifies how each specific marketing tactic in a campaign, such as keywords and email subject lines, all contributed to overall ROI, according to Forbes. But first, the foundation for accurate modeling must be laid by establishing certain ground rules.

For starters, decisions will have to be made regarding the metrics and KPIs used to make these attributions. As an executive overseeing one or both of these departments, you'll be tasked with aligning the terminology and processes used by each party. This will require you to secure buy-in from the individuals being asked to adjust how they define their on-the-job success.

At the same time, part of your mission in aligning sales and marketing is to eliminate an "us versus them" mentality. Here, your ROI attribution model will be key, since it will define the success of each department according to their collective success. As a leader, you will need to oversee a culture shift that uses a new attribution model as a means of helping sales and marketing staff to reconceptualize their job responsibilities and their larger job objectives. The trick? Ensuring that both departments feel valued and fairly credited throughout the process.

With that in mind, introduce any new attribution model as an effort to implement fair measurement and pay attention to how employees react, to determine whether adjustments need to be made.

2. Facilitate Shared Workflows and Communication

A number of cloud-based solutions such as Salesforce offer functionality and organizational features to facilitate collaboration and communication between sales and marketing departments. A CMS also plays a central role in enabling better cooperation between these teams. But from a strategic level, you'll also want to create a sales-level agreement (SLA) to clearly define the roles both sales and marketing will need to serve under this new alignment.

It's possible that you already have a sales-level agreement in place, but it will need to be updated to reflect the new roles and expectations for your sales and marketing departments. As the Digital Marketing Institute notes, this document offers a blueprint to how your company's entire lead generation process will function, including responsibilities at each stage, workflows between sales and marketing, steps for identifying and prioritizing high-potential clients, and setting the ideal cadence governing sales and marketing activities.

When confusion over roles and responsibilities emerge, your SLA can help employees get back on the right track. Over time, this agreement can help optimize workflow management and collaboration between these departments, raising the bar for efficiency and productivity.

In order to facilitate shared workflows and communication between sales and marketing teams, you'll need a reliable CMS and a clear sales level agreement.

Photo attribution: Helena Lopes from Pexels.

3. Establish Common Goals Departments Can Pursue Together

Sales and marketing alignment needs to happen on a granular level, driving every action each department takes in generating leads and bringing on new clients. But there are strategic shifts you can implement on a macro level to foster a culture of cooperation and collaboration, specifically when it comes to organizing these departments around unified goals.

Whether it's dollar goals, new client sign-ups, or other performance markers you'd like to reach, it's helpful to give your departments a shared objective they can easily conceptualize. It's OK if this one is a little more simplistic than the larger organizational goals you're striving to achieve, as long as it offers a target that everyone can recognize and track their progress toward. Forbes recommends offering an incentive for everyone to reach these goals, such as a sales and marketing party or even a fun outing to build greater camaraderie between the departments.

The purpose of these goals and incentives is to train sales and marketing to work together, share a common vision, and view the other department as a partner, rather than an obstacle or a competitor. Simple goal setting can be an invaluable way to better define these new sales and marketing expectations and relay why they're so important in the grand scheme of things.

Break Down Silos to Stay Competitive

Siloed departments face low ceilings when it comes to achieving better results for their organizations -- especially when compared to competitors who've already managed to break down these lines of division. But the time-honored use of these silos means that even when you change your company's structure, your employees may still gravitate toward the mode of operation that they're most familiar with.

As you take the business steps to better align sales and marketing through collaborative tools and data-driven attribution, make sure you also have strategies in place to get your workforce on board with this modern way of doing things. Help them understand that when sales and marketing have a symbiotic relationship, it ultimately benefits your entire organization.

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Featured image attribution: fauxels on Pexels.


Jonathan Crowl

Jonathan Crowl specializes in digital marketing and content creation for both B2B and B2C brands, with an emphasis on startups and technology. His past and current clients include B2B brands IBM, LinkedIn, Mad Mobile, Oktopost, BrightSpot, and Waze, as well as B2C brands Porsche, Epson, and PayPal. He lives in Minneapolis.