5 steps to aligning your sales and marketing efforts


If there’s one common pain point shared by our clients, it’s this: sales and marketing don’t play well together. It’s a common dynamic: the sales team might think marketing is inefficient and unfocused, while the marketing team feels sales is isolated and poorly-informed about any top-of-funnel activity. Each function feels it receives little support from the other, and there is no single, mutually beneficial action plan. 

If that sounds familiar, you'll be interested in our crash course in the principles of Smarketing.

What is Smarketing?

Smarketing, (sales and marketing), is a fundamental principle of inbound marketing. It refers to systemised collaboration of your marketing and sales functions. Its success is grounded in these two vital functions mutually acknowledging their profit goals. The deliberate, consistent application of Smarketing principles has been shown to significantly increase annual sales. In most businesses, this can be done simply. Follow the principles below, which are part of our inbound marketing toolkit, and you’ll be on the right track.

Getting started with Smarketing

The first Smarketing step is to create a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the buy-in of the two teams. While an SLA is usually a contract between a supplier and a customer, the same contract can be agreed to, between two functions of the one company. In fact, it’s an essential first step in Smarketing. When sales and marketing create a Smarketing SLA, mutual goals are set, a single strategy is devised to achieve those goals and promises to each other are thought out, agreed upon, and committed to. This process begins to create a strong sense of teamwork between the two functions and ensures that each takes responsibility for its own part, and gains a genuine appreciation of the other function’s value.


How to draft a Sales and Marketing SLA

The first thing you need to ensure your SLA is a success, is the wholehearted commitment of both functions. The sales and marketing teams must recognise the agreement’s vital importance as they come together to create it. The task then is to set goals and procedures that are realistic and mutually beneficial, and make a commitment to achieving them. The essential elements are goodwill, shared responsibility, clear communication and comprehensive reporting. Now, to specifics. 

1. Make your goals numeric.

There should be little room for interpretation. For example, marketing commits to producing a specific number of high-quality leads for the sales function every month. Sales commits to contacting these leads within a specified time frame, e.g. 48 hours.

2. Make sure your targets meet the needs of your business.

Take into account the cost of the lead generated by marketing, the length of the sales pipeline, the value of each customer, and your total sales volume target. Also, calculate how many high-quality leads are needed on average per sale. This will make it very clear to marketers how many leads they need to generate in order for sales to reach their goals. These hard numbers that you agree upon will keep both functions accountable. Your success in achieving these numeric goals will be easy to monitor and you can quickly address any shortfall by either party.

3. Schedule regular reviews of your SLA’s goals.

Here again, communication is vital. It’s a joy to succeed in these goals, and when you do, it’s important that everyone understands why and how you did it; a good result is not enough in itself. If, however, the goals have not been met, you should work together to identify the problem areas and find solutions. In these situations, the SLA can be extremely effective in reducing finger-pointing. Both teams simply address the document, and work out what needs to be improved. It’s rare that there’s one single cause.

4. Create a working template for reporting.

It’s best if this is a regular, clear report in real time, on the fulfilment of the SLA's objectives. It must provide the key SLA metrics quickly and easily. This will serve as a motivator, an internal tracking tool, and a marketing and sales management tool.

5. Review and update your sales and marketing SLA regularly.

Even small businesses make lots of changes, so it's important to keep this vital document up to date. Again, bring sales and marketing team members to the table together. Once the SLA has been upgraded, it’s imperative to work with your entire sales and marketing team on embedding the new goals and promises. That way, everyone is on board, and committed to new goals.

Your Smarketing SLA will increase transparency, encourage fairness and accountability and drive profitability. Remember that while sales and marketing do things differently, they do things for the same purpose, which is to make the organisation more successful.

Get started with inbound marketing today. Download our free guide below.


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