A fellow Inbound Networker asked me some basic questions about Smarketing recently, and I promised her a blog post on the answers. After the 4th page, I thought it best to answer her questions in 2 parts. This post is part 2, for part 1, read the post on Caldwell Marketing Communications blog.
"How to make marketing and sales work together? I have seen it, lived it, where there is such a divide between the two areas. As I am writing this I am thinking what are some of the Smarketing benefits or how to overcome the marketing and sales divide with Smarketing. Am I going down the right path with what smarketing is all about?"
It has become an unconscious reaction of mine to answer a question with more questions before I answer. It's not because I am avoiding the question, I just want to make sure I understand it correctly so I can answer it honestly. So I replied with;
"I think what you are asking is 'how to start down the Smarketing path as a marketer? How do you get sales to work with you without wasting their time? How to get buy in from the people in charge?' Sound about right?"
"Sounds like a dream! That would be great."
If you believe that you really can (and should) manage your company’s sales and marketing relationship to work together effectively and efficiently for the sake of your customer’s experience with your business (which is how you create relationships with the customer evangelists who will help grow your business), then the next questions are usually:
- How to get Smarketing buy in from the people in charge?
- How to start down the Smarketing path as a marketer?
- How to start down the Smarketing path as a sales person?
If you are looking for some tips to help with those questions, scroll down to the bottom of this post and skip the story of why you need Smarketing.
Why Do You Need to Practice Smarketing?
But if you still haven't bought into the concept of Smarketing and your organization's need for it or if you are still trying to wrap your head around this whole sales and marketing alignment thing, read on. Maybe you can identify with my own (and my brave client’s) personal experiences and observations over the past few years.
There are few of us out there that have not seen where there is such a divide between sales and marketing. It's always easier to spot the flaws and mistakes in others. Yet it is astounding how many marketers, sales people, and executives who, when asked, will say, “We naturally have sales and marketing work together, you can’t have one without the other!” But when you dig a little deeper into how closely aligned their sales and marketing mindset, processes and tools are actually are and how they function together on a regular basis, you will find that their sales and marketing alignment is seriously lacking.
Sales has no idea what marketing is doing or what to do with their ‘inbound leads’. Marketing has no idea what has happened to the leads they worked so hard to get for sales. Bosses have no idea where their money went or what happened as a result.
When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of 2 characters. The first means"danger", the second means "opportunity". ~JFK
How do you know you need sales and marketing alignment help?
Why turn things upside down? Why not just continue to do things as you are doing them now?
To help you understand the dynamic that happens between an aligned sales and marketing team, imagine comparing your company culture to what’s like trying to learn how to do an handstand at nearly 40 years old. (Hint #1: your Smarketing success will hinge on your company’s culture.)
When you are a youngster (start-up, or company with a learning culture) doing a handstand doesn’t seem like a big deal. And if you fall, that’s not a big deal either, you just get up and try again, laughing as you watch your friends try to do the same thing. You are young, you are always learning, so failure isn’t the end of the world for you. You figure out how to do it better, until you do it right. (Hint #2: You can teach an old dog new tricks if they are hungry to learn how.)
Let’s say you aren’t a youngster, but have been practicing yoga (ie: sales, marketing, or running the company) off and on for 10 years, and right now you are in an off period. You haven’t really been ‘working on your practice’ (your business) as much as you should or want, because…well… life got busy (the recession hit, your bread-and-butter market shrunk or disappeared, and your boss wants accountability and results).
Impulsively, you join a 90- minute Vinyasa class (you try Facebook, Adwords, even start doing all the tactics and techniques of inbound marketing) that’s been heated to about 100-120 degrees(F) because it’s the middle of winter (things are looking dreary and you are worried about your job/company) and heat sounds oh-so good right now (inbound marketing will save me!). Plus you secretly want to know if you can hack it (we can do this, just watch a few webinars and put some keywords on our website, collect email addresses and blog once a week).
For the first 15 minutes and 75 degrees of the class, you think ‘hey, this isn’t so bad- I can do this!’ (web traffic is going up!). Then the heat starts to rise (you want leads!) and the speed of the movements and your heart rate increases (but we need sales) and you start to wonder if you can really do this. You start to panic when the teacher starts talking about taking your feet off the floor into a handstand. Is she out of her mind? You can barely keep up with standing on your feet! (You feel pressured to do something and no matter how hard you work at blogging and creating landing pages and calls to action, it's just not happening fast enough.)
How can you reverse the normal state of sales and marketing and evolve into a Smarketing balance within your business?
How do I know that I am going down the right path with what Smarketing is all about?
Unfortunately, how I felt during my yoga practice is the same way marketing people feel when they are being held accountable to leads and sales, like they are being set up to fail. Ironically, it's also how many sales people feel when they are told they need to be doing 'social selling'.
A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties. ~H.Truman
Here is when you know if you are on the Smarketing path. When marketing isn't producing the right leads that turn into sales, sales steps in to help give direction. When sales can't get anyone to answer their phones or engage in a conversation, marketing steps in and shows sales how to use social media to engage prospects and help them write blog posts that get found by prospects and give them credibilty.
When you are trying to reverse your direction and balance yourself upside down, take baby steps and get assistance until you can stand on your own two hands. Check out the tips below get started.
Smarketing is about not being afraid to ask for help and feedback.
Here is how failing can actually be a good thing. Remember hint #1? Your company culture is what will be the determining factor in your Smarketing success. Here are some sample questions to ask and tips to spark a Smarketing movement in your business.
"Successful people ask questions, and as a result, they get better answers." ~ Tony Robbins
1-How to get Smarketing buy in from the people in charge?
If you are the person in charge, and you are reading this, and you hear your team asking you these questions, you would be wise to listen and act. If you are the first and only employee of your company, ask these questions of yourself and think about getting some outside help to keep your view in perspective.
- Define your common revenue goal. Do a simple ROI calculation based on how much do you need to generate in revenue. How much of that do you expect to come from sales? How many leads need to close and at what value? How many leads does marketing need to help generate for sales? How much traffic is needed to generate that many leads? Where is that traffic going to come from?
- Use a test to prove credibility. Build your case study and choose a coworker (or consultant) to help you design your test. Select a product, service, or line of business that you can collaborate on and make an example of. Asking for a smaller budget or even permission to do it on your own time reduces the risk to your boss, or business.
2-How to start down the Smarketing path as a sales person?
How do you get marketing to move in step with what is happening in the marketplace? What do sales people do best? They ask questions and offer suggestions. Here are some sample questions that sales people can ask marketers to help make them more effective and efficient and start a Smarketing communication channel. Most marketers love to share what they know, and a few general questions will spark some useful information.
- What keyword phrases are people using when they search for our product or service? The slip into industry lingo is a slope that many of us fall into. Ask marketing to help you research how to speak the language of the customer by using the terms they use when they first begin searching.
- What pages are most popular on our website? Knowing what information has been digested by the prospect can help sales direct conversations, or even offer the suggestion to other prospects that might be interested in the information. This question also opens the door to make suggestions of new pages or offers that marketing can create to address objections early and educate often.
- How do I make a blog post? I think marketers everywhere would fall down fainting if their sales counterparts asked them this. All you need to do is write down the latest sales conversation you had and ask them how to turn that into a blog post that can help you find more, better conversations. They will fall over themselves explaining to you all about SEO and calls to action and conversational writing styles. Most likely, they will just take whatever you have written and say ,"Here, let me help."
- How do I optimize my social media profiles? Have you ever heard the quote, rising tides raises all ships? When you start developing your own social media presence, it builds the companies' social media presence. Ask your marketing team how to do it effectively. Share each other's content virtually, just as you would in real life.
3-How to start down the Smarketing path as a marketer?
How do you get sales to work with you without wasting their time or yours? If you have read the tips for sales people, then you have an idea how how sales could work with you. Being a marketer myself, I know it's hard to get sales people to take you seriously sometimes. This is another reason why it is so important to get buy-in from the top first. If you are dealing with sales people who are complacent they are not likely to want to change anything that takes away from what they are doing now simply because they are happy with how things are. My best advice, move on to a sales person who is motivated and hungry for new sales. Personally, being a business owner who also sells helps me relate to the time pressure that most sales people are under. If they don't sell something, they don't eat or put a roof over their family's head.
It also helps to hold your meetings at lunch time and bribe them with their favorite pizza. Or sushi.
- How can I help you find more people to talk to? Let your sales counterpart know that you understand how pressed for time they are. Become their champion and ask them who they are talking to now, or want to be talking to now. Devise a strategy to help them be in the right place, at the right time.
- Why should someone buy this? What should they know that is 'insider info'? What are the hidden benefits? Pick their brains, tell them you are trying to get into the mindset of their customer and if you were them, this is what you would be thinking. Act as a customer advocate and ask sales to help you answer their questions. Do some research to support your questions. Turn it all into content in the form of blogs posts, landing pages, e-book offers or downloadable calculators.
- What is happening in the industry and how will it impact our customer? Take advantage of sales insider knowledge and bring it to the forefront. Using the same tactic as above, you can establish your company as a thought leader together.
- What other businesses are complimentary to ours? Ask who they are getting referrals from. See if those businesses have a social media presence or a blog. Share their content, offer to write guest blog posts for each other. Help your sales person be a true networker, connector and market leader online.
What tips do you have for entrepreneurs, sales people, or marketers to help them achieve balance by aligning sales and marketing processes, tools, techniques or mindset? What challenges do you have in reaching across the aisle and collaborating in a way that blurs the lines between sales and marketing?