When it comes to growing a business, there are certain objectives you can’t do without. The relationship between marketing and sales, for example, is a key part of turning consumer interest into tangible, profitable leads. You can’t invest more in one area than the other, because they’re equally valuable.
In fact, sales and marketing alignment is considered to be so important that it’s spawned a new word; smarketing. It may sound frivolous, but there’s a whole breed of software designed to support it. These systems bring the two halves of the customer journey together. They help businesses attract leads and find effective ways to convert them into sales.
Both sales and marketing are vital for growth and survival, as replacement leads are needed to counteract customer churn while driving development. To do achieve this, marketing applications deal with tasks like website design and advertising, while sales software is great for managing customer relationships. With the right software, it’s easier to handle these two different branches of business.
It isn’t difficult to source suitable sales or marketing solutions. The challenge is finding a way to make them work as part of a single cohesive process. This is what we refer to as sales and marketing alignment, and it can make a huge difference to productivity. The question is: how do you go about uniting two departments, two systems and two sets of objectives?
Finding the Key to Software Alignment
The heart of the issue is, and always will be, the software. Let’s consider the back end: both departments rely on fast, accurate data to get the job done. Ask yourself where this information comes from and, more importantly, how each team gets access to it. For instance, traditionally, sales teams use customer relationship management (CRM) tools to grow leads.
However, they depend on the efficacy of specialized marketing platforms, because the marketing team must first find the leads. Issues with misalignment occur when the marketing team categorizes leads in one way, and CRM software processes them differently. This can lead to conflicting, asynchronous perspectives and objectives.
It’s one of the reasons why software vendors are starting to make sales and marketing alignment a top priority. Providers like Microsoft, Salesforce and HubSpot are building integrations that allow both sides of the customer journey to share common goals. It’s still viable to invest in specialist solutions, but you’ve got to develop them in tandem.
The Role of Marketing Automation
According to a survey conducted by HubSpot, businesses with a higher level of sales and marketing alignment report 20% more revenue, year-over-year. So, getting this right can help you make more money. While stripping things back and using one “master” platform (for both sales and CRM) isn’t the only answer, it’s the easiest way to improve alignment.
Investing in a single integrated system with the ability to sync data both ways is the secret to a seamless customer journey. It means marketing automation software can exploit CRM insights and communicate effectively with potential leads. Once these leads become tangible, the data is passed on to sales teams so they can convert them into profit.
Essentially, having one unified platform is a great way to introduce a shared context and perspective. The result is smoother exchanges between marketing (identifying, preparing and creating leads) and sales (monitoring, forecasting, etc.) processes. You’ll also reduce the volume of administrative responsibilities within both departments.
This accelerates follow up responses, and makes sure transaction cycles are completed as quickly as possible. If all of that weren’t enough, integrated software also improves accuracy by preventing errors and phasing out duplicate tasks. It creates a comprehensive picture of the customer journey, with all relevant information accessible at one time.
Amplifying the Value of Smarketing Integration
For successful sales and marketing alignment, you need to commit to your frontline software. Whatever vendor you decide to use, make sure the product gives you a holistic window on the customer and every point of contact they have with the company. This includes relationship history, any relevant forms of support, product preferences and more.
Once you’ve got a solid smarketing foundation, you can start adding other functionalities and capabilities around this core platform. For instance, popular vendor HubSpot offers a tool that enables businesses to combine accounting, project management, customer support, events applications and more with sales and marketing systems.
ZenDesk provides a mobile-first version of key customer support functions. FreshBooks is a great way to manage customer invoices and create accurate payment records. The goal is to make sure all of your platforms feed into the same central database so that teams are always looking at the complete picture when dealing with lead generation.
The Right Way to Make a Big Impact on Customers
There are endless benefits to investing in combined CRM and marketing automation software. It provides excellent support for not just sales and marketing alignment, but for the whole business. If you want to amplify these advantages, start building outwards, adding extra applications, and bringing other departments (like accounting) into the smarketing fold.
However, don’t forget the people at the end of the journey. Sales and marketing alignment is a major asset for your customers, simply because it makes your company more knowledgeable about them. Problems are identified, processed and solved in an efficient manner.
They have the luxury of communicating with advisors who understand their relationship with the brand. These things are very important, as growing a business is about so much more than that first sale. In order to become a strong and influential brand, you need to convince consumers that sticking around is in their best interests. And once you do, you’ll gain customers who’ll keep coming back to use your products or services.