Professor Chris LoDolce defined smarketing as “The alignment of the sales and marketing team around common goals within a business or organisation, focused on improving revenue.”
The two teams are traditionally disconnected and viewed, at least internally, as two separate entities. They tend to work with cross-purposes, but the evolution of the B2B buying process has changed the game, and businesses must adapt.
Let’s look into why collaboration between sales and marketing is necessary to the health of B2B companies, and how smarketing could help them.
The customer buyer journey has changed
The B2B buying process is a collaborative one and marketers need to target more than just the key decision-makers. Consulting peers on social media plays a part in the buyer’s process, but colleagues within the company, spread across many departments, complete the group. The targeted marketing message must scale to reach each stakeholder in this circle of influencers.
The difficulty lies in the different personal motivations, priorities and decision criteria of each individual or department, which makes it tough to establish a general consensus.
With so many stakeholders involved in the decision-making process, each armed with information pulled in from different sources, the purchase becomes difficult for the buyer. More than three-quarters of surveyed B2B customers told Gartner that they found their last purchase difficult or complex.
These dynamics are causing a struggle for buyers. But figuring out how to simplify the purchasing process could hold the key to overcoming this challenge.
The six B2B buying jobs
Historically, you could draw a straight line from the beginning to the end of the sales process, where buyers moved from one step to the next until completing the purchase. Now, the process is anything but linear. Gartner research identified six different buying “jobs” that customers must complete before concluding a sale.
- Problem identification – “We need to do something.”
- Solution exploration – “What’s out there to solve our problem?”
- Requirements building – “What exactly do we need this purchase to do?”
- Supplier selection – “Does this do what we want it to do?”
- Validation – “We think we know the answer, but we need to be sure.”
- Consensus creation – “We need to get everyone on board.”
Making it easier for customers to buy
These steps give the illusion of linearity but in fact, the customer engages with all these steps simultaneously, “looping” around the processes and revisiting each job at least once. If you can reduce this taxing process and give the buyer information that helps them advance through the steps, then you boost your chances of earning their business.
The key is to take proactive steps to simplify the buying process where possible. The research shows that buyers are more likely to feel like they’ve entered a “high-value, low-regret” deal when given information that helps them advance.
You have to get the right information, to the right people, in the right place, at the right time.
Customers educate themselves
The impetus on inbound marketing caused a paradigm shift in how buyers consume content, make informed buying decisions and engage with salespeople.
Empowered by the ability to find information almost immediately, sales often come into the game towards the back end of the purchase process, and sometimes not at all.
With businesses creating and distributing so much content, buyers can educate themselves on the products that best suit their needs and arrive at an informed decision without additional help. Salespeople are fast switching from the purveyor to the facilitator of the sale.
However, customers expect seamless, personalized and high-quality experiences and with the content being the first interaction they have with your brand, business or product – the alignment between sales and marketing is more important than ever.
Teamwork makes the dreamwork
Historically, marketing curated the customer buying journey and focused on the initial stages of lead generation, before handing those leads over to sales. But content now plays the primary role in designing and executing the customer buying journey, and not just at the beginning.
98% of companies look for their suppliers online and 62% say they can make a business decision based on online content alone. The marketer’s role has expanded to ensure the buyer is actively engaged and nurtured all the way to the final purchase.
Companies see a substantial improvement in important performance metrics when sales and marketing work together. According to the Harvard Business Review, “sales cycles are shorter, market-entry costs go down and the cost of sales is lower.”
Improving sales and marketing alignment
The statistics show that when sales and marketing work in tandem there is a clear and substantial improvement on performance metrics.
- Sales and marketing alignment leads to 32% higher revenue
- 36% higher customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates
- 24% faster growth rate and 27% faster growth revenue
With statistics like these, you’ll be surprised to hear that a quarter of businesses describe their sales and marketing as either “misaligned” or “rarely aligned”, with two-thirds admitting their departments fail to meet on a regular basis. When you add that this lack of alignment costs companies 10% or more revenue annually, you start to see the problem more vividly.
Get smart with smarketing
The idea behind “smarketing” doesn’t mean that businesses need to create the “smarketing division”. It means making a concerted effort to build the improve effective communication between the sales and marketing teams.
Driven by technology, the world is changing and as much as the B2B buying process has evolved into a collaborative effort, sales and marketing practices need to step into line and adapt with it.