My interest in sales and marketing alignment best practices started when our Latin American sales team grew a ton in just a few weeks.
Suddenly, communication between Sales and Marketing (nicknamed "smarketing") was much harder to get right. When we were a smaller team, I could meet one-on-one with each salesperson and talk about how we could help generate more (and better) leads ... but that wasn't scalable as we grew.
I needed help. To learn what other marketers were doing to work efficiently with their sales teams, I scheduled meetings with several members of our field and channel marketing team.
It turns out that each marketer I spoke with had great advice and processes to better work with Sales ... but none of them had the same advice and process.
To help share the information across our team and with anyone else new to Sales and Marketing alignment, I decided to compile everyone's best practices into a blog post.
Before we dive into those best practices, however, let's take a second and discuss Sales alignment. Sales alignment refers to the steps your sales team takes to ensure they're aligned with Marketing. Here are a few Sales alignment strategies.
Organize Sales around buyer personas.
Buyer personas aren't just valuable to Marketing; they also educate Sales on who they're selling to, what they care about, and how to help them. Consider your buyer personas as you organize your sales team, create sales enablement materials, set up your CRM email templates.
Designate staff to receive and qualify leads.
One avenue through which Sales and Marketing will always be connected is through lead sharing. As Marketing generates leads through content offers and campaigns, they pass them to Sales to qualify, nurture, and convert.
Who on your Sales team accepts marketing qualified leads? If you can't answer that question in five seconds flat, you need to review your Sales team structure and designate someone (if not a small team) to receive and assign these leads. If there's one place where Sales and Marketing need to be aligned, this is it.
Facilitate training between teams if needed.
Have Sales hold product demonstrations for Marketing (perhaps the same ones they give prospective customers). Alternatively, ask Sales if they have had some trouble with specific questions during their calls. Smarketing is just as much about education as it is about alignment.
Sales and Marketing Best Practices
Here are some of the best smarketing tips and tricks that my colleagues use.
1. Meet regularly.
The best way for Sales and Marketing to stay connected is to, well, stay connected. Regular meetings are an effective way to avoid siloing these teams.
Have an onboarding smarketing meeting with every new salesperson.
In order to support Sales successfully, it is very important to share processes, resources, and best practices from the start. Use this time to get to know each other and share how Marketing will be supporting the sales team. If you have a large number of salespeople starting, hold a monthly meeting to set these expectations and field any questions new folks might have.
Attend sales weekly meetings.
Attending weekly sales meetings allows marketers to know how Sales is doing with their quota and goals, and offer support when needed. Use this time to share the upcoming campaigns, content, and offers that Marketing will be promoting that week. Also ask for content ideas and recommendations for your future offers and blog posts.
Have a monthly meeting with sales managers.
Marketing and sales managers should meet on a monthly basis to analyze results and evaluate their SLA. Important metrics to share are lead generation, MQLs, percent of leads worked, and lead-to-customer conversion rate.
Attend events together.
Whether it's an industry meetup group, happy hour in your office, or an organized conference — spend time together in a casual setting. Attending an event together provides you with a unique opportunity to get to know your Sales department outside of the traditional work environment.
2. Create a team email alias.
Have an email alias that gets sent to both Sales and Marketing teams. Use this strategically to share important information in both directions. This also allows external teams to share pertinent information with both groups.
3. Have a content creation process in place.
Your sales reps are talking with prospects all the time and know what is getting them excited about your company. The problem is that a lot of times they don't have time to write down this feedback. How can you help? Make sure to put together a process to gather this input.
Hold brainstorm sessions at weekly meetings.
Have a five-minute brainstorm session at a sales meeting to ask what content they would like to have to share with prospects or attract more leads.
Use a shared Google document to collect ideas and references.
Have a shared Google spreadsheet where Sales can add ideas or certain references for content creation.
4. Coordinate your content marketing campaigns with Sales.
Marketers are constantly promoting new offers and content, so it's important to keep the sales team up-to-date with these promotions so they know what recent offer their leads are receiving.
Here are the basic steps for coordinating your offers with Sales:
Include your promotion on a shared calendar.
Build a Google Calendar and add the date and time of your promotion (it might be an email, webinar, or social media campaign) along with the URL, the main talking points, and description of each offer. Make sure to invite your sales team to this calendar so they can see it on their personal accounts.
Email the offer to Sales.
Once your offer has been promoted and you start getting leads, you should email the sales team with the following information:
- Offer talking points. Include two to three bullets about the offer. Assume the salesperson hasn't read the offer — what main concepts should they know when talking to prospects? Good talking points usually include: stats, business use cases, or "how to" advice.
- Lead views. Make sure to include the list of the leads your offer is generating so Sales can take action. If you have a CRM, you can easily generate views and share them with your sales team.
- A quote of the week. Similar to the talking points, including a more general quote that Sales can use on their calls can keep the conversations up-to-date. The best quotes are the ones that are data-driven and relevant, so try to include a recent industry trend or stat.
Build follow-up email templates for your promotions.
Offers are a great way to generate new leads and re-engage old leads. Build email templates for your sales team to start a conversation. This email should be specific about the offer and how your company might help with the prospect's interest.
5. Set shared goals — together.
Historically, Sales and Marketing function with different key performance indicators (KPIs) and, therefore, different goals. Most goals are separate — Sales may be focused on monthly revenue while Marketing hones in on website traffic.
A good smarketing strategy prioritizes shared goals, too. There are a few KPIs — like conversion rate and lead value — that both teams can measure and influence. Identify these KPIs for your sales and marketing teams can work towards.
6. Share your reporting and analysis.
What do your sales and marketing teams track and measure? What do they learn from their analysis? Just as you keep your communication and ideation channels open between Marketing and Sales, make sure each team shares their learnings, too. You never know what your salespeople and marketers could learn from seemingly unrelated KPIs and analyses.
7. Help showcase your salesperson's expertise.
Marketing is responsible for promoting all aspects of your company, including your products, brand, and salespeople — the folks your prospective customers will connect with and, hopefully, trust. Leverage your marketing resources to showcase your sales team's expertise.
Ghostwrite a blog post under your salesperson's name.
Consider ghostwriting a post under your salesperson's name. Interview them on the topic, transcribe your conversation, and turn that into a blog post. This can help the salesperson establish credibility and familiarity with their leads.
Get them to use social media.
If your salesperson is active on social media, then encourage them to share your company's content. You can even write some lazy social media messages for them, so all they have to do is copy and paste them on their favorite networks.
8. Shadow sales calls.
Also, take some time to sit next to your sales team and listen to their calls. This is a great learning experience that will help you step into your sales team's shoes and see how they illustrate the business use of your product or service. You can also get ideas for future content creation and how to build some of the follow-up emails of your offers.
9. Organize sales enablement resources in one easy-to-access location.
Marketers work hard to create sales enablement resources such as brochures, company overviews, and presentations, but all that hard work goes to waste if your sales team can't find (and use) them.
So try to keep all your sales enablement resources in one shared place where Sales can easily access them. This location is a great place to also host your campaign calendar, links to relevant offers, and specific content for a market or persona.
10. Have fun and get to know each other.
Finally, some of the most important advice is to try to get to know each other as people. Organize lunches, outings, and celebrations, and just have fun. This helps build trust among team members and ensures that people feel comfortable leaning on each other for support.
Need help coming up with an outing idea? Check out this list of 17 fun ideas — from improv workshops to karaoke.
Sales + Marketing = Smarketing
Aligning your sales and marketing team helps both teams reach their goals and boost company revenue. Apply these sales and marketing best practices to improve your smarketing strategy.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.