How to achieve sales and marketing alignment to drive better Top of Mind and Advocacy

8Dec
How to achieve sales and marketing alignment to drive better Top of Mind and Advocacy

When it comes to sales and marketing, there are two ways most companies operate: either the teams work independently of each other or they work together.

Silos are comfortable but also inefficient and prone to stagnation. This was true before the pandemic, but 18 months of spending freezes, supply chain disruptions and uncertainty laid bare the consequences of choosing kingdoms over co-operation.

This is not something I am making up. There are plenty of studies that show that companies that chose to align their marketing and sales efforts and bring value to their customers had higher net revenue, customer satisfaction, retention and win rates.  If that was the case during a global pandemic, imagine what could be accomplished in a more “normal” sales environment.


How to smarket

The relatively new term for this anti-silo approach is smarketing. It’s a relatively new word for an evergreen idea about a kind of integrated commercial planning, where sales and marketing really understand the role of the other and come up with a plan to work seamlessly together. 

I have looked at companies that have made this transition successfully and found six factors in common.

Let’s take a look.

 

1. Agree on common terms


At its most basic, this means finding terminology that means the same thing to everyone, independent of where they work in your business. 

Developing a kind of a lexicon of commercial excellence allows a company to align KPIs and make sure everyone knows exactly what each metric is referring to. 

 

  • What is our business rationale exactly?
  • How do we calculate it?
  • Where is the data coming from?
  • How often should we measure it?
  • How do we define and measure success?

The same idea applies to general terms and strategy as well. In an ideal scenario, if you asked 50 people in your company what A means, they should all easily reply, “A.”

 

2. Define common customer personas and segments

Sales and marketing may have started out with common personas and segments, but in companies where these departments don’t work together, the concepts usually drift apart over time. If sales and marketing can’t even agree on what kind of customer they are selling to or what motivates those customers to buy, there is no chance they are optimizing their conversion opportunities.

Your product is a carrier of a solution, not just an object or service. That’s what the customer is looking for whether they are health care providers, patients or consumers. 

Understanding your accounts via customer journeys or patient pathways is the quickest way to determine which sort of interaction is needed and who should provide the support.

Your product is a carrier of a solution, not just an object or service. That’s what the customer is looking for whether they are health care providers, patients or consumers. 

Do your sales and marketing team agree on

  • How customers like to be approached, when and how often?
  • which content they value
  • which channels they prefer to access content and interact with you


Using a CRM tool makes answering these sorts of questions much easier, but if sales and marketing are using CRMs that don’t join up or make it difficult to share information, then the advantage of an omnichannel approach is lost.

Other factors like gender, socioeconomic level, income, overall business potential, customer lifetime value, brand segment potential, intrinsic and extrinsic motivators should also be communally defined. 

The reward for doing all this work is customer loyalty. Getting your prospects/leads the information they want before they can even think to ask for it, is the best way to stay top of mind.


3. Create messaging and assets in common

Now that you’ve defined your target groups, the sales and marketing teams can pool their experience and produce the comms assets needed for every step of the customer journey.  Becoming more efficient on the production side makes room for an improvement in quality. And having the assets the sales team needs ready to go when they need them means the messaging remains consistent throughout the buyer journey. 

Agreeing on the metadata tags may seem inconsequential. I can assure you that it’s not. Knowing when they are being deployed, how or if leads are consuming them, how they help or hinder the buyer in moving to the next step is invaluable in determining asset effectiveness. This information relies on a thought-through tagging strategy that everyone implements identically (i.e. it takes into consideration your segmentation strategy, benefit platforms, persona, target audiences, geographies, etc.).

 

4. Define success

Many companies take a “we’ll know it when we see it,” approach to success. Or they look only at revenue. Not only is that an incomplete picture, it’s completely demotivating.

Taking the time to define which metrics that are relevant for both sales and marketing and who is responsible for what is essential. 

Some common KPIs are: 

  • revenue generation
  • market share growth – value or volume
  • account acquisition cost (new customer, retention, upselling)

Perhaps sales and marketing have different responsibilities within these KPIs, but when both teams are working with the same terms and understanding of what they mean, only good things can happen. 

 

5. Develop a culture of sharing

This sounds obvious, but the regular sharing wins and losses between sales and marketing doesn’t happen all that often. Regular meetings to discuss what is working well along with what isn’t working or what hasn’t worked as expected are vital. Talking about what didn’t meet expectations is often more fruitful than dwelling on wins.

Outside of meetings, using technology to make information accessible to interested parties at any time from anywhere is also essential. Sharepoint works well for this as do a number of other industry standard platforms.

If you want to get serious about sharing information, consider creating a cross-functional team responsible for the creation and evolution of content. It should contain people from marketing, regulatory, sales and, ideally, representatives from your customer base.  

The team can test new messages, ideas or formats, get feedback very quickly from people involved in every step of the buyer journey and then make adjustments accordingly. The result is a cycle of enhancement that creates smarter, more focused targeted content that the buyer actually wants to engage with.

 

6. Sync your tech

Aligning marketing and sales ideologically is one thing, but making sure the tech stack for both teams is working together is quite another. Sales usually has its own legacy CRM system, which doesn’t play well with the marketing cloud-based CRM. 

If it’s not possible to have marketing and sales use the same CRM, then it’s important find a way to bring the data they both have together. Once a data lake or warehouse is established, then it’s possible to slice and dice it into actionable key insights across hierarchies, business functions and teams.  

This data can then be used to inform the content management and creation decisions we discussed in the previous section and also as a way to help customers better understand patient behavior. 

It’s a perpetual loop of enhancement. At first, it will be a quite rocky journey. But slowly but surely, as long as you keep ahead you’ll end up with a company where functions are supported by the other functions in an organization. I have seen myself many times, that when this happens your customers and your patients will notice. 

 

Final thoughts

If after reading this, you have the idea that aligning sales and marketing is optional, then you are mistaken.  There is nothing more pressing for companies in 2022 than seamless cooperation between business functions, including functions such as medical affairs, compliance and so on. 

It’s more efficient, makes it much easier to adapt to a changing market and respond quickly to individual customer needs at all points in the sales cycle.

This blog was written by Dirk Abeel, Omni-channel/sales enablement strategist and Founder Omni-X-elleration Ltd, and was originally published as a webinar.

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