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Smarketing: how quality data helps bridge the sales and marketing divide

Jenny Reardon | 25 May 2016

Smarketing: how quality data helps bridge the sales and marketing divide
Ever since the first marketers left the sales table to create their own little cool crowd, there has been a gap between the two departments. Despite the show of unity they put on for the CEO and board of directors, they rarely see eye to eye or pursue the same goals.

To anyone outside Ad Land this might seem a bit strange since their departments exist for the same reason –  to improve a business’ bottom line. But a closer look at the differences between sales and marketing people will reveal a straightforward reason for the rift.

Sales and marketing are more different than you think.

The problem is that they are two very different animals driven by very different instincts.

Marketers are primarily concerned with nurturing long term relationships in view of the bigger picture. For them it’s all about developing promotional strategies that will position their brands to take advantage of future trends. They realise the importance of generating leads, but it’s no more important than building brand equity and longevity.

Salespeople, on the other hand, are in it only for the kill. They focus solely on closing sales and generating demand. They want to meet their sales goals and will complain if they don’t believe their leads are good enough.

The results of this disconnect are obvious; the animosity is frequently expressed in snarky comments like “salespeople are lazy” or “our leads suck”. And when pressed on issues of performance, the two sides only engage in a blame game that does nothing to address the issue of unimpressive ROI. It’s a headache for many CMOs.

The time is right for realignment.

Today’s marketing environment represents an opportunity to mend this rift. It’s all about a shift in power –  not between sales and marketing, but between sales and buyers. Modern B2B buyers don’t need the assistance of a salesperson like they once did. They make decisions based on what they learn from product reviews, case studies, and other online content.

In response to this change in buyer behaviour, marketers have shifted their focus to content. First it was with content marketing and then with the game-changing methods of inbound. As an approach that emphasises integration, inbound marketing was the first to spell out a plan to resolve the differences between sales and marketing.

It’s called Smarketing, and it represents an integrated sales and marketing strategy in which the two departments work towards a common goal. Many businesses now consider it integral to their marketing operations, yet many still get it wrong. To successfully bring sales and marketing together for greater ROI, aspiring Smarketing practitioners have to do at least one thing properly: alignment.

Sales needs to work with marketing on strategy.

Traditionally, marketing has been responsible for strategy. But there is much to be gained by involving sales in the process. Besides putting everyone on the same page, a collaborative effort also gives sales the chance to provide input. As the people most often in contact with your customers, your sales team can provide the kind of insights that can make a strategy just that much more effective.  

The first campaign element your teams should co-create is your personas. It seems a given that sales and marketing would consider their customers to be the same people, but this is not always the case. You need to make sure that the two teams agree upon their personas’ demographics and their pain points if they are to have a chance of aligning their efforts.

Next, they need to agree on what a lead is. This definition needs be specific and quantifiable if it’s to eliminate any chance of conflict later on. For example, it could include a shown interest in buying or a commitment to research on their problem – expressed through the reading of a certain number of blogs on the topic. If both teams can agree on this, there is no reason for sales to complain about the quality of leads if marketing has held up their end of the bargain.

Commitments to an SLA should be managed with shared metrics.

Once your teams agree on who they are targeting and what constitutes a qualified lead, they need to agree on how many leads marketing should generate and what sales should do with them. Once their roles have been established in their service level agreement, it’s time to put in place the analytics that will allow the two teams to track their progress.

Effective marketing is all about measuring and amending. You need to make sure that your sales and marketing teams have access to the same quality data and metrics so that they can see where they need to tweak their activities. Shared reporting allows for the feedback and transparency that facilitate responsiveness and build trust.  Of course, for your analytics and reporting to be any good, you need to have quality data.

Some of this will be generated by performance analytics, but much of your most valuable data relates to customer details. There are many ways to define quality data, but the most useful data includes fields that allow for accurate segmentation and higher engagement rates. If you want to ensure that your sales and marketing teams get the best support possible, you need to ensure that you buy only quality data from reputable vendors.

Quality data is accurate, relevant, and opt-in validated

As a telemarketing and data company with over 26 years experience, we understand how important it is to use only accurate and relevant data. We keep our data up to date by matching it to live databases, and use data opt-in validation to ensure better engagement. To learn more about the role quality data plays in the success of campaigns, download our data guide.

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Image Credit: PTC