Smarketing: Five Sample Steps to Reach Marketing and Sales Alignment

Article by | January 18, 2022 Marketing Strategy, Sales

Open and integrated communication between your marketing and sales teams will make a difference in your organization. Whereas murky and competitive communication only moves your company a few inches smart communication, on the other hand, helps your company reach new heights.

In recent years, synergy between marketing and sales has been dubbed smarketing—the process of integrating marketing and sales processes to obtain a common, integrated approach. Built on the foundation of open dialogue between teams, smarketing ensures all are working toward a common goal.

What are the Benefits of Smarketing?

  • Save time:Reduce duplication of effort by having marketing and sales work off the same process and in the same database. Automate as much as possible with common reports between departments. Work smarter, not harder.
  • Improve audience-facing content: Many HealthTech companies have lean marketing teams. Ensure they are working on the right things. Closer and more frequent communication with sales empowers your marketing team to write better articles, sharper case studies, and deeper content that help s your prospects overcome their biggest obstacles during the sales process.
  • Avoid list burnout: List burnout happens when your marketing and sales teams are constantly emailing the same groups of people without much strategy behind it. When your contacts get sick of the number of emails—and mixed messages—they’re receiving, they either stop engaging or unsubscribe.
  • Reduce friction in the funnel: Marketing and sales alignment keeps prospects from getting stuck or cast out of your funnel. Aligned processes and tools keep prospects informed, curious, and engaged with your solution.

A Five-Step Sample Process for Smarketing

The process of bringing your marketing and sales teams together might be fraught with competitive sprits and cries of “we’ve always done it this way.” Change is never easy. We prescribe this approach because it puts the focus on the leads’ best interests and not change for the sake of change. The issues between marketing and sales will come out in the process and you can deal with them in cooperation with the sales leader. If both of you are pointing your teams toward new contacts, your teams will eventually get on board.

This is merely a sample process. Your process might be more intricate depending on the size of your teams, the number of avenues new contacts come in, and the number of products your company offers. Use this merely as a guide to get started.

  1. A new contact downloads a piece of content. Your CRM evaluates the information gathered and scores them high enough that they become a prospect in the “awareness” or “early consideration” stage of their journey. Your automation system sends a “thank you” email seven minutes later with an introduction to your company and another link to the piece of content that was downloaded.
  2. Two days later, your marketing team takes the lead. They send a series of automated emails to the prospect. These emails are designed to nurture the Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) into a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). The emails and responses are tailored to prompt the lead to respond, download, and provide more information to better qualify them as a lead and pass to the sales team.
  3. Through the use of lead scoring, every interaction your new contact makes with the series of automated emails is given a positive or negative score. For example, opening an email and downloading a relevant white paper would increase the score. The MQL would score lower if emails are not opened or offers are not downloaded.
  4. Marketing and sales have previously settled on a lead score that leads to the greatest close rate. Once a prospect reaches that score, the system moves their status to SQL. Marketing and sales teams are both automatically notified. Sales then begins the personal sales process. At this point, marketing halts other communications to avoid contact burnout.
  5. Cooperation is not complete. Contacts that did not reach the intended lead score will continue to be “touched” by marketing efforts. SQLs that do not close will be transferred back to marketing for more nurturing work.

Open dialogue throughout this five-step process remains critical. For example, in a given month, 100 new contacts download an eBook and 20 of them become SQLs. Your sales team now has 20 qualified leads to meet with—but what about the other 80?

There are many scenarios for these 80 names like:

  • MQLs who fell short of the lead score
  • MQLs too early in their shopping process
  • Leads who are potentially at the buyer’s table but not decision-makers
  • Students or others doing research but not potential clients
  • Job or internship seekers who want to learn more about you as an employer
  • Competition

Each group that doesn’t progress to personalized sales work should receive ongoing marketing support designed for their situation.

Furthermore, with every SQL who doesn’t close, marketing should receive an update about the lead’s approach and which objections were used as reasons for not buying. This information will help the marketing team create and refine the content and emails used throughout the process.

What Happens if the SQL Goes Dark?

When the sales rep begins communication with a lead that doesn’t respond after a number of outreaches, it’s time to pass communication efforts back to marketing. (We recommend five touches. If a lead has not responded in five calls or emails, they are not ready for your services.)

A common strategy is the implementation of a “dark opportunity recovery” workflow. This type of workflow would be a slower nurture campaign with a piece of relevant content being sent every 10-14 days to see if the lead can be re-engaged. If the marketing team chooses not to engage dark leads, they should be added to a suppression list to avoid burnout.

Marketing Automation Safeguards

Even with a sales and marketing alignment plan, brilliant nurture campaigns, lead scoring, and open dialogue, there’s still a chance your marketing and sales team may get their wires crossed. Sometimes individuals download content from personal and work emails. Sometimes leads miss being added to exclusion lists.

Put these safeguards in place to avoid the awkward conversation between marketing and sales about who sent the wrong person the wrong thing at the wrong time.

  • Suppression Lists: Having suppression (AKA exclusion) lists for particular workflows and campaigns avoids over-communicating with leads. For example, say a lead score of 80 triggers an SQL and sets the lifecycle stage to “opportunity.” If marketing and sales have agreed that only the sales team communicates with SQLs, then the marketing team should create a smart list of any contact categorized as “opportunity” and exclude them from communications.
  • Good Data: Marketers are only as good as their data—and it is up to both teams to maintain consistent data. Create a cheat sheet of terminology that both teams agree on. This list should define lifecycle stage, lead score, and reps’ territories (if applicable). Because not all leads will come in the same way, make sure each team is aware of who is responsible for updating what in your CRM when it isn’t automated. For example, say sales reps go to a conference and each returns with a stack of business cards and lead information. The reps should let marketing know that their new contacts are to be suppressed during the follow-up process. The sales reps should then update the leads’ status in the CRM to release the names to marketing or continue to hold the names for more personal touches.
  • Automatic Triggers: Creating workflows that help automate some of these processes can ensure data is always up to date. For example, you can create a workflow that automatically marks someone as an opportunity when they reach a certain lead score.
  • Regular Review Meetings: Even the most refined automation workflows can miss leads. Don’t lose the human touch. Gather marketing and sales teams together on a regular interval to discuss leads and nurture flows.

The First Thing to Do After Reading This Article

Personally evaluate the alignment between your marketing and sales teams.

  • How is your relationship with your peer on the sales side?
  • What recent stories have you heard of friction?
  • What stories have you heard about leads falling through the cracks?

Seek out the opinions of two or three members of each team to gauge their opinion of the health of the relationships.


Updated from September 10, 2018

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