Once upon a time, sales and marketing were in love
True, Marketing wanted a long-term relationship and sales only wanted a one-night stand, but it was clear where everyone stood.
But then, the relationship began to change
With the advent of digital and social tools, buyers - not sellers - stepped into the driver's seat, they began using online means to conduct ROI analyses before making final purchasing decisions. Today, according to Sirius Decisions, buyers are more informed than ever because they've got access to online content as well as an extensive digital peer network. And, according to a recent DemandGen Buyer Behaviour report, almost half of buyers create a short-list of potential vendors and one-third conduct initial research on solution options before the first communication with a sales rep.
Marketing started to use tactics that buyers, not sales, preferred
Marketing started to change too. As Cisco's CMO Karen Walker has said, "Marketing was the last function to be industrialized, and the first function to be digitised". With the buyer in control, marketers started moving away from outbound tactics like tradeshows, live events, and email campaigns that sales was used to. We started using digital tactics that matched the buyers' desire to look for information online using search engines, vendor websites, and social media sites. But neither sales nor marketing was happy. Things got so bad that Hubspot reported: "87% of the terms sales and marketing teams use to describe each other are negative".
Enter Revenue Marketing
Like a good marriage counsellor, revenue marketing helped sales and marketing rekindle their relationship. In a nutshell, revenue marketing ensures that marketing strategies and campaigns align with sales and business objectives to generate a measurable ROI to the bottom line. Using revenue marketing principles, marketing started to transform from a cost centre to a revenue centre. Marketing and sales began to work in partnership again, and they began speaking the same language, using terms of endearment like planning, forecasts, pipeline, bookings, and revenue.
Back on track: Smarketing
Today, the romance between sales and marketing is back on, and like all happy couples, they're using a pet name: 'Smarketing'. Hubspot defines the term 'smarketing' as "the alignment between your sales and marketing teams, created through frequent and direct communication". We've embraced the term and the concept here at Cisco, and here are four lessons learned to strengthen the relationship between sales and marketing.
4 Tips For Smarketing bliss
1. Speak a common language
It's important to be on the same page. For example, here at Cisco, sales and marketing both know exactly what we mean by terms such as 'Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)', 'Sales Accepted Leads (SAL)', and 'Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)'.
2. Gaze in the same direction
Marketing and sales must also share revenue goals and strategies. We've defined how much marketing will contribute to sales, both to the pipeline and to bookings. We've also articulated what each team will do to support the others' efforts.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Once you're on the same page, tune your operational systems to give visibility into results, and refine your processes continually. At Cisco, sales and marketing use common reporting dashboards and hold each other accountable. Both teams listen and respond to feedback.
4. Celebrate success hand-in-hand
Now that marketing can concretely prove its value, both teams can celebrate together. This builds strong team morale.
'Smarketing' may be a cute term but it has very real ramifications. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Aberdeen Group, companies with strong sales and marketing alignment can boost annual revenue growth by up to 20% - now that's worth celebrating.
So please raise a glass and join me in congratulating the happy couple. To.... 'Smarketing'