Sales and marketing work together to achieve common goals but don’t always see eye to eye. Marketing is responsible for creating content and generating leads, while sales is responsible for converting leads into customers. But if both teams work together, they can create a powerful force that can help your business succeed. In this blog post, I’ll show you how sales and marketing integration helps your business generate more revenue, retain more customers, and achieve higher win rates.
Special Note: This article is based on the chapter “Sales and Marketing Integration Made Simple” Lisa wrote for the book Sales Fusion: Design Your Modern Sales Strategy, available now on Amazon.
Sales and marketing integration (SMI), at the basic level, takes two essential functions of a business and merges them to gain efficiency and produce results significantly higher than if the functions remained separate but collaborative. It’s not about ignoring the differences in the two functions but identifying those differences and developing strategy and process with those differences in mind. Across years of experience in work with SMI, I’ve cultivated a knowledge and understanding about the significant influence SMI can have on your business and operations:
When SMI leaders drill back to these types of statistics to test their integration pathway, gaps become obvious. Developing a combined process, workflow, and key performance indicators that speak to these types of stats is a simple way to begin integration.
I’ve never met a sales leader, marketing leader, executive, or owner who didn’t want to drive revenue and grow year-over-year. So, answering the question about why you should care about SMI is so freaking easy. It goes beyond attracting and retaining customers. When you experience true integration, your growth is exponential.
You will experience the struggle between the functions dissipating—sales no longer complains about the quality of the leads that marketing produces; marketing no longer complains about sales never working the funnel and the organization reaps the benefits. Sustainability in your growth pattern also exists. The only downside is that it’s hard. It takes change management, total organizational buy-in, and consistency. The real question is, how can you not care about SMI?
Before you can get started, you must be intentional about and appreciate the differences between the two functions. Here’s an easy breakdown that I’ve often used when working with teams on integration:
Whether you are a one-person department or are a member of larger teams or departments, getting started looks the same. You document. Yes, it’s boring. Yes, it’s essential. Yes, it’s a lot of work. No, you can’t skip this step. It’s the first step and if you are going to skip this one, forget about successfully integrating.
This is a team sport. Everyone participates, but I recommend appointing a leader to SMI to keep things on track and organized. If you are a one-person department, engage your operations team members and/or organizational leaders in all phases of SMI.
There are five areas I recommend you spend time documenting. Even if you have documented in the past, it’s a great time to review and refresh. The five areas are:
The process of documenting the core areas will require a lot of conversation and debate. This can be the fun part and remember, challenging ideas to make them better is a healthy way to approach continuous improvement. You want discussion and to vet out issues, concerns and even complaints at this stage in SMI. If you don’t hear sales constructively criticizing marketing or marketing perplexed about sales tactics, then you’re not doing it right.
Strategy comes next. The documentation step is the foundation that is necessary to develop a great strategy. Devise a combined strategy to seamlessly transport the client/customer through the entire buying cycle, from awareness right down to finalizing the sale, and throughout the client journey.
In the strategy step, don’t think about your functional area (sales or marketing) but think about what ultimately needs to happen. For years, I’ve referred to my SMI strategy as my growth strategy. Once the strategy is set, you consider the functional areas as you are determining the best action strategies or tactical maneuvers needed to achieve the set goals and objectives.
Create a plan and work the plan—together. Once you’ve set a strategy, create a working plan that’s combined. It’s been years since I’ve had a separate sales plan and marketing plan and you’ll find it easy to combine them once you’ve completed the first few steps of integration.
By this time, you have started to think differently and are eager to get started. You see the possibilities and are starting to think about overall growth and less about separate functions.
Change isn’t necessary here. Your current staff structure can work once SMI is complete. You will gain efficiency and likely see a huge jump in productivity, which could impact how you hire going forward. Doing more with less may also become a reality with the synergies gained. You may also find team members that don’t adapt well to the culture changes, so be prepared to address these as a co-worker or leader of the team(s), depending on your role. It takes everyone to shape culture, so don’t shy away if this happens.
Also, you will want to consider some of the operational details like how files are shared if there’s a network drive that was historically separated, who will be the point person for each department to set meetings, agendas, handle reporting, IT structure, like your CRM and other MarTech could be consolidated, synced or the functionality could be leveraged differently. These types of structural items will need to be modified and determined but changing your people structure isn’t necessary.
Sales and marketing integration is for everyone. It doesn’t matter your size, your industry, if you are a one-person department, or if there’s extensive team in both departments. The process is the same, the importance is the same, and the impact is always growth-related.
The experts at EMI Network understand the importance of sales and marketing integration. We know that when these two teams work together, they can create an unstoppable force for driving revenue and reaching business goals. Our team can help you create an integrated strategy that will have your customers finding their way to your products or services with ease. Schedule a time to talk about your organization’s SMI needs today!