Everyone understands that Sales and Marketing alignment (or smarketing) is a good thing. But the reality is that most organizations are a ways off from the VPs of Marketing and Sales being besties. I believe if organizations truly understand the value and have a clear path to get there, it will happen. Enter the 3 C’s of Smarketing: Communication, Coordination and Collaboration.

Communication: Start creating purposeful dialogue between Sales and Marketing

Marketing and Sales have to communicate to get their jobs done. But to start to create optimal efficiency, more detailed communication needs to happen. Organizations need to have clear definitions of what Sales is looking for in a lead so that Marketing can create campaigns accordingly, which is an awesome first step toward solid alignment. If you don’t yet have this, invite your counterpart to lunch and start the discussion. Bring data to review why some leads were followed up on and others weren’t. Look at new customers that went through the pipeline the fastest and keep an eye out for commonalities.

Once you have a common understanding, get it all down in writing so you have agreed upon definitions. Then make sure you can track to these stages and measure conversions from lead to sales accepted (or Sales Qualified Lead – SQL). Ideally, you’ll also have a stage in between for Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) so that Marketing can scrub out anything that clearly doesn’t meet the qualifications of what Sales wants before you send the leads over the wall.

Coordination: Continually optimize the outcome of Sales and Marketing efforts

Once you’ve got clear lead definitions, it’s time to create a feedback loop for continuous improvement. This means getting Sales and Marketing leadership together on a regular basis to review results and make changes in lead definitions or even campaign spend according to the feedback. Many organizations do this on a quarterly basis as “QBRs” or “Interlocks”.

No matter what fancy name you give to these meetings, make sure both departments understand the purpose and what they need to bring to the meeting. These meetings become worthless after 1-2 sessions if it is just Marketing showing data and asking for feedback from Sales. BOTH sides need to come with data and be prepared to explain what the data is saying.

Here’s how. Create some dashboard reports that both teams can access for the following data:

  • Highest and lowest performing campaigns for the quarter in terms of SQLs, Opps and Closed Won (6 different reports)

  • Highest and lowest performing inside sales reps (or telemarketers) for the quarter in terms of conversions to SQLs, Opps and Closed Won (6 different reports)

Both parties should analyze this data before the Coordination meeting and come prepared with feedback from their teams on why they think those were the results. Having the analysis and team input take place before the meeting (from both sides) will make these meetings more successful. As you mature in this process, you may be able to set goals for conversion rates and use that as a bar to analyze what campaigns over or under performed.

Collaboration: Get significant revenue growth by working toward the same goal

So now that you have great Communication and you are meeting regularly to obtain Coordination, what more could you possibly achieve? The answer is Collaboration. In this stage, the lines between Marketing and Sales start to intentionally get fuzzy. Marketing starts doing things that fall in the Sales realm and Sales starts getting involved in Marketing programs, otherwise known as smarketing. With smarketing, the offices of the VPs of Sales and Marketing are next door to each other and they might even report to a centralized executive like a Chief Revenue Officer responsible for both Marketing and Sales.

While this may sound like a scary alternative dimension, when you start smarketing, it’s totally awesome! This stage means the end to the blaming as Sales and Marketing are truly working together to achieve the mutual goal of growing the company. Marketing bonus plans are on revenue, not leads. There is mutual respect, because these groups are in tight alignment.

So how can a company achieve this nirvana? It’s actually a lot easier than you might think. At the heart of smarketing Collaboration is Sales and Marketing working together on a common program. This means designing the program together, promoting it together and tracking results together. This is the essence of smarketing.

The most effective program to achieve smarketing Collaborative alignment is a referral marketing program. While Sales already gets that referrals are their highest quality lead, most Sales folks don’t ask often enough or have a “give-get” to offer. With help from Marketing through a referral marketing program, Sales can not only get more referrals, but turn referrals into their most productive lead source. In fact, data from the referral marketing programs running on the Amplifinity referral platform shows an average conversion from lead to purchase of 35%.

This conversion rate is possible through referral software that enables collaboration between Sales and marketing by integrating into the Sales CRM to allow Marketing to create the brand message for the program and Sales to help execute on it.  This enables Marketing to extend its lead generation team to Customers or Partners who can connect your message to target buyers in their networks.

Bottom line – This scalable personalized lead generation works so well because it is backed by both Marketing AND Sales.

If you’d like to learn more about achieving smarketing, I recommend this paper from Marketing Profs: How to Climb to Smarketing Success: A maturity model for sales and marketing alignment.

Trisha Winter brings 20 years of technology marketing and management experience to her role as CMO at Amplifinity. With a lifelong passion for brand advocacy and referral marketing, Trisha provides strategic leadership to Amplifinity’s brand presence and oversees a full range of marketing initiatives across industry sectors. She shares her expertise on the transformation of marketing as a speaker and author of numerous articles, blog posts, and white papers. When not being awesome in the office, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading and doing laps at the pool. Contact her at @Trishawinter