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February 28, 2017

Cindy Penchina, President

shutterstock_225400357.jpg Sales and marketing are increasingly interlocked. It's getting harder and harder to locate the hard line between the two. But, we do know that the job of marketers is to garner leads, and to turn these Marketing Qualified Leads, or MQLs into Sales Qualified Leads, or SQLs.

In other words, it's the marketing team's job to give your sales team people to speak to. And not just any people, but people who are qualified to purchase, and ready to do so. 

In fact, sales and marketing efforts are so closely aligned, that the industry has coined a new term for it called smarketing

Each team fuels the other, but marketing can’t deliver a good number of high quality leads without knowing what sales is looking for, and what sales’ goals are.

How can you get started developing your own smarketing strategy? These 4 steps will get the ball rolling.

1. Define Your Personas Together

Marketing is not an exact science. Marketers have to do a lot of guesstimating and testing to see what works, and then refining when things don’t. Some of the most valuable information marketers can have access to is sales data or buyer research. But oftentimes, the sales team and the marketing team are not sharing this kind of data as it is seen as the "domain" of the sales team.

When sales and marketing are siloed, marketers and sales aren’t talking, so marketers don’t have this critical information of who to go after. So marketing & sales need to sit down together and work out who their buyer personas are – with an emphasis on who sales has demonstrable success at selling to as well as who marketing believes could be fruitful going forward. By developing these Buyer Personas together, you increase the likelihood that you’re developing strategies aimed at attracting the right prospects.

2. Define SQL

At what point does marketing pass leads on to sales?

Working together, sales and marketing can determine what behaviors indicate that a marketing qualified lead is "raising their hand" to say they are ready to consider a purchase. If done right, your marketing team can deliver highly qualified leads to your sales team who are ready to be SOLD TO.

There’s no single definition for an SQL, but marketing needs to know what kind of people actually end up buying: what conversion path they’ve been down, how much they engaged, how recently, what information they’ve already gotten? It could be simple, it could be complicated, but if marketing knows where that line is, they know what to deliver leads and when to turn leads over to sales.

That way, you’ll get the right people at the right time.

3. Develop Clear Reporting

Regular meetings between sales and marketing teams can foster the kind of collaboration and information sharing that is needed for a true smarketing strategy. 

It is also beneficial to have a system in place that enables sales people to see the marketing activitiy of individual prospects and to report back to marketing on the quality of individual leads and deals closed. For marketers, being able to see which leads actually close, allows them to analyze the strategies that are successful and those that are not. This is critical in determining which marekting activities to focus on.

A powerful two-way reporting system will give both teams the critical information they need to continually refine their efforts and to help keep everyone accountable. For us, the system of choice is Hubspot. It offers a great CRM for your sales team and a state of the art automated marketing platform for your marketing team. Having all of this information accessible to both teams will give you a huge leg up over competitors that are not sharing this kind of information.

4. Ongoing Review

Lastly, you need to regularly meet to review and report progress – and quite possibly to redefine all of the above: your personas, your goals, your reporting processes, your SQL requirements. Conditions change, you learn more, you get more experience, the business environment changes– and suddenly your SQLs don’t convert the way they used to. By meeting regularly, you can make sure your efforts stay accurate and effective. You might locate new buyer personas, or find that one of them isn’t performing anymore. You might need new metrics to measure performance against.

In other words, you can increase the quality of the leads marketing sends you by ensuring that sales and marketing are working towards the same goals in tandem. You have to build up the idea that they’re one team after one thing: building your business.