The IT industry and especially the channel are constantly in flux. Changes in technology, mergers and acquisitions, and evolving service models mean that no company can afford to sit still when it comes to marketing and sales. Companies need to consistently and clearly communicate so customers and prospects clearly comprehend their offering and unique selling proposition.
However, doing this effectively requires organisations to overcome the traditional barriers between the marketing and sales teams. This is difficult; cultural evolution in a lot of companies means these two teams are often disconnected at best and working at cross-purposes at worst.
This has led to the rise of a concept referred to as ‘smarketing’. Aligning the sales and marketing teams effectively can lead to performance improvements and a fuller sales funnel, which results in organisational growth.
Smarketing is an approach that aims to break down all the barriers between sales and marketing teams and empower them to work closely together. Culturally, this requires C-level managers to set the tone by facilitating personal relationship-building and cross-team collaboration opportunities to create stronger bonds between sales and marketing professionals. Members of both teams should be encouraged to communicate often, and both informally and formally, to ensure a constant information flow between the two teams.
It’s also valuable to use systems that are accessible to both teams so they can work from a single source of information. This is important because it reinforces that they are working towards common goals, rather than in isolation.
However, one of the most important aspects of a smarketing approach is to create a service level agreement (SLA) that defines the parameters of each team’s responsibilities.
The first step in creating a useful and effective SLA is to ensure that both teams are speaking the same language. This means defining terms so there can be no confusion over what’s meant by terms such as a marketing qualified lead or sales qualified lead, for example. Even within sales teams, there can be different perspectives on what terms mean. For example, a lead that’s at 60 per cent for one sales rep could be considered to be at 80 per cent for another. Explicitly defining these terms leaves no room for confusion.
The next step is to set out agreed metrics. This includes things like how many leads will be delivered per month by the marketing team, along with the quality of those leads, as well as how many opportunities will be closed per month by the sales team. It’s also worthwhile including metrics around response times.
Once the metrics are agreed to, it’s essential to ensure that they can be tracked. While this sounds like common sense, it often gets overlooked in businesses. However, if it’s not possible to report on goals or SLAs, then there’s no point in having them.
Once the SLAs and reporting metrics are in place, sales and marketing professionals can make it their routine to work together and hold everyone accountable. By ensuring people are accountable for achieving these goals, and rewarding them when they do, businesses can create a stronger connection between sales and marketing. They can then continue to work together to make the sales and marketing engine work more efficiently and strategically.
Karen Drewitt is chair of CompTIA Executive Council and general manager at The Missing Link.