A business cannot afford to overlook this because it’s well-documented that when sales and marketing are aligned, a company achieves significantly higher revenue growth. According to Marketing Profs, aligning the sales and marketing teams results in 38% higher sales win rates.
But all too often, the teams aren’t aligned. Each points the finger at the other.
Sales blames marketing for not generating enough leads or creating the right kind of content.
Marketing blames sales for not being able to transmute leads into closed deals. It doesn’t help that their success is judged according to different timelines and metrics.
Sales has quarterly or even monthly goals; marketing projects have a long-term focus. Sales success is measured in quotas met; marketing success is measured in metrics.
The result is disharmony.
It’s often the case that each side doesn’t feel valued by the other. Marketers are asked to “make things look pretty.” Salespeople are told their job is “easy.” All they have to do is close the deals handed to them by marketing, right? These differences can create a divisive, politicized atmosphere.
“Smarketing” is the alignment of sales and marketing where departments unify their efforts and actively collaborate in order to generate leads and close deals. By regularly coming together, defining goals, and holding each other accountable, the teams will enjoy mutual success.
But unity doesn’t mean the customer journey gets any simpler. In fact, effective smarketing requires that every individual understands the bigger picture, and his or her place in it. This not only promotes a healthy, mutual respect between departments, but it also helps each team player understand how they contribute to winning the game.
Adopting an agile strategy is one way to help marketing and sales align. By emphasizing the customer experience, the two sides find immediate commonality. Other examples of how marketing and sales can better align include:
Brangelina. Kimye. And now smarketing. When sales and marketing get hitched, the natural result is a beautiful account-based baby.
Account-based marketing and sales is an approach in which teams focus efforts specifically on best-fit companies—those accounts that are both lucrative and likely to purchase a service or product. Sales people know who’s in the pipeline and can provide a list of targeted accounts. Marketing creates collateral designed to appeal to those accounts. It often helps to have a Chief Revenue Officer or other growth expert to help bring the parties into alignment.
In addition to sales and marketing alignment, CROs can also loop in individuals from sales development, product management, or engineering. Once the team is assembled, they start by coming together to reach a mutual understanding. The CRO can then work with this assembled A-Team to set goals, define KPIs, and collaborate on campaigns.
First, it is important to identify which accounts require attention. In order to hone in on the best possible opportunities, marketing will need to understand what kinds of clients make a sales qualified lead (SQL). Sometimes, when marketing hands off leads to sales, sales doesn’t follow up on the lead or isn’t able to close the deal. Marketing will need to understand why there is no follow up by asking questions like:
It’s also worth considering any firmographic and technographic information a team may have on hand. Firmographic data will offer some ideas as to how large a given company is—and often how lucrative.
It includes the number of employees and facilities, its estimated growth and revenue, etc. Technographic data will offer clues into what kinds of products target accounts are likely to purchase.
What technologies and software do they currently use? Salesforce? Marketo? Which products or services best pair with what they already use? Asking questions like these—which help sales and marketing reach a mutual understanding, and parse apart any relevant data—will help teams hone in on their ideal accounts.
(Tip – Get it all down on paper. The agreed upon goals, definitions, and KPIs)
Creating parameters around what makes an ideal account is a good starting point, but teams also need a handful of metrics for accountability. Identifying KPIs for account-based strategies are important because it ensures everyone is working toward a common goal.
Account-based marketing requires account-based metrics, so KPIs might include any of the following:
ABM is a lot different than the traditional strategy of trying to reach as many potential buyers as possible. Instead, campaigns are tailored to each account. By aligning with SQLs and identifying best-fit clients, the number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) will decrease, but the leads will be higher value and a better fit.
With this smaller, more qualified pool of accounts, marketing can focus on individual accounts, and the individuals within those individual accounts. Typically, for B2B companies, a handful of people have to approve a purchasing decision. It could be that one person researches the product and passes it off to one of their coworkers, who reaches out for a demo and then passes it onto their supervisor, who runs it by C-suite and signs off on the deal. Part of ABM involves understanding who the decision-makers are—their titles, their pain points, their wants and needs—in order to inform the larger messaging.
[Tip: Remember that accounts might be companies, but it’s called the customer journey (not the company journey) for a reason. See pp. # for more on the customer journey]
To truly understand an audience (in this case an account) marketers will spend time with customers and sit in on sales calls. Front-of-house exposure enables marketing to develop account-specific content and collateral coordinated across channels. This holistic approach moves best-fit clients down the pipeline quickly with a higher chance of closing.
Smarketing teams should regularly reconvene in order to review progress and potentially tweak campaigns depending on feedback, especially in agile environments. Although this is typically more expensive than traditional marketing and sales, ABM has several benefits.
First, it comes naturally to companies in which marketing and sales are aligned. By targeting specific accounts, teams are not only going after the highest-value clients, but they can also clearly track ROI.
Much like in an agile software sprint, the power of smarketing lies in its narrow scope of focus. By replacing the vast pool of potentials with targeted accounts, marketers are able to craft tailored content and waste fewer resources. The smaller pool makes it easier to analyze metrics, as well. Teams can easily tell what’s working and what isn’t. It’s been consistently demonstrated that when ABM is applied to both outbound and inbound tactics, revenue growth is significantly higher.
Outbound marketing includes cold calls, cold emails, trade shows, networking events, Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM), and traditional forms of advertisement—print, radio ads, and commercials.
In other words, outbound refers to marketing in which the company reaches out to clients first. This comes naturally to account-based strategies, because it does not require a waiting game for clients to initiate contact. Teams identify the exact clients they want and market specifically to them. Outbound also comes in handy when market awareness is low, like when launching a new product or service, or when a customer is not aware they have a problem.
At first blush, it may seem like ABM exclusively uses outbound marketing, but this is not necessarily the case. Account-based strategies can be applied to both inbound and outbound marketing for a push-pull effect, and it often should be. In fact, inbound marketing isn’t leveraged enough these days to optimize a robust marketing strategy.
Inbound marketing is an approach to marketing that does away with the traditional “always be closing” sales model, which often comes at the expense of connecting the right customer with the right product (although, that’s less of a problem when taking an ABM approach).
Inbound flips this on its head by creating content that resonates with your target audience. When you create relevant blogs, social media, emails, and PPC ads, customers come to you.
Sure, ABM starts with targeting specific accounts through outbound marketing. But the fact remains that the grand majority of B2B companies are going to conduct online research before making a purchase.
In other words, most companies are going to look at your content as the primary source of information about your product or service. If you don’t have inbound marketing in place, there’s a chance your outbound marketing will fall flat. That alone is enough for most companies to include inbound marketing.
Another reason for B2B companies to include inbound marketing: It’s usually the case that a handful of individuals have to agree to a purchase. One goal in ABM is to expand the contact pool within the account.
If you have four or more contacts within the account, one strategy is to un-gate premium content for individuals from that account. On the flip side, if you only have a couple of contacts and would like to grow the contact pool, it’s helpful to gate content.
Which marketing strategies your company uses depends on your audience. For example, if the average lifetime value of even your biggest accounts are small, you’ll benefit more from inbound marketing than ABM. Oftentimes, companies benefit from combining the two: ABM provides the hyper-personalized content needed to land your dream accounts, while inbound attracts new business (and gives your targeted account more content to explore).
Sales and marketing alignment are two sides of the coin. When they come together, for the common cause of serving accounts and driving revenue, they can move mountains. If you recognize the need for sales and marketing to work seamlessly together, but don’t know how to facilitate that collaboration, consider working with growth experts. At Orogamis, we know how to get the processes in place that get your smarketing engine running smoothly.