Sales and Marketing Alignment: A Complete Guide to Smarketing

Laura Caveney
19th May 2021

Wondering what on earth smarketing is? We can’t blame you. This blog will walk you through everything you need to know about sales and marketing alignment from why you need it to best practices for implementation.

Aligning your sales and marketing team takes time and a lot of patience. But done right, you can reap the rewards. According to Linkedin, 87% of sales and marketing leaders say collaboration between sales and marketing enables critical business growth.

So how do you make smarketing a thing? Well, we’re here to tell you exactly how with our complete guide to sales and marketing alignment.


Editors’ Note: Want more insight into how marketing teams are currently using reporting and attribution? Download our survey of over 200 businesses looking at their priorities and their challenges.


In this guide we’ll be discussing:

Let’s dig in.


What is sales and marketing alignment?

Sales and marketing alignment, also known as smarketing, is the goal of enabling your sales and marketing teams to work with better communication, transparency and collaboration in order to achieve greater efficiency.

The ultimate end goal of smarketing is to get higher quality leads to enable high-profit sales at an increased rate. Basically, more revenue.

Historically, sales and marketing teams have worked in a silo and developed independently. This means teams sit in different offices, use different technologies and have different goals.

The aim of sales and marketing alignment is to break down these barriers. According to MarketingProfs, sales and marketing alignment can result in 38% higher sales win rates.


Why do you need smarketing?

There is a multitude of reasons why you need smarketing when it comes to your business. But we’ve got it pinned down to these five reasons:


Sales teams getting low-quality leads

Are your sales team complaining about low-quality leads?

With sales and marketing working in a silo, it’s often the case that leads created by marketing are thrown over the fence to sales, never to be seen again. Many marketers, particularly those working in B2B, suffer from data disconnect.

They can track the volume of leads they’re generating. But more often than not, they struggle to understand where those leads are coming from, and which leads go on to become revenue. It’s that disconnect that makes creating high-quality leads hard.

Thankfully, with smarketing, you can all work off the same hymn sheet. Marketing attribution tools allow marketing to report back on revenue, not leads and optimise their efforts for what drives high-quality leads.


Sales team not picking up new leads

According to Reachforce, sales reps ignore up to 50% of marketing leads and instead spend time on prospecting their own leads. That’s enough to make your head spin.

But the reality is, is your sales team being supported to understand what marketing is doing to drive new leads? And, how are they being made aware of new leads in their list? By working in silo, sales might be missing out on vital lead information. And, if your marketing team has historically been dropping off leads that aren’t good quality, why would your sales team be keen to pick them up?

Sales and marketing alignment will allow you to get both teams to share a common goal and work together to achieve it.


Simplify your workflows

We bet your sales team uses one piece of software, while your marketing uses another? And don’t get us started on reporting!

Marketing likely reports on leads, while sales reports on revenue?

Smarketing allows you to both work in the same piece of tech and share insights. The reality is, your sales team needs marketing to help drive leads but marketing needs sales for valuable insight on customers.


Shorten sales cycle

The B2B buying process has evolved resulting in a much more complex buying cycle and a massive shift in customer relationships. Buyers are purposefully choosing to delay interactions with sales and often ignore traditional tactics like phone calls and emails.

In order to share the message your customers want, where they want it, sales and marketing professionals must work together. New tactics in smarketing include segmentation, targeting, content development, nurturing, content engagement and customer support.


Increase revenue through marketing and show ROI

Oh reporting, where do we even begin? All of the problems we’ve mentioned so far impact your reporting. Even if your teams do sit in meetings together, your marketing teams KPIs will be very different to your sales team. In fact, the reporting is so separate, it makes us wonder if this isn’t the cause of all the other problems.

Aligning your sales and marketing means reporting on revenue. Sure, you can still report on separate KPIs like lead generation or vanity metrics to get an idea of the potential of your marketing. To highlight ROI across the whole funnel, from marketing to sales, your teams need to understand how their work is directly impacting the other.


Editor’s Note: Not sure how you can report on revenue when you’re managing conversions like phone calls, live chat and form fills? We show you how we track every lead, every interaction and attribute closed revenue back to marketing.
How ruler attribution revenue to your marketing - banner -


Why is sales and marketing alignment tricky?

Communication in business is hard. Many companies hire internal communication professionals to manage the task properly. And with sales and marketing sitting separately, it’s no surprise that communication between teams is hard.

Sales are often incentivised by commission. It’s how they make their salary. So they want leads that are going to turn into revenue. And when a marketer passes over a boatload of leads they’ve had no view of, you can understand why getting their buy-in to pursue them can be hard.

Marketers meanwhile, just want to tick their goal of driving leads. They can’t view the lead quality, so instead they throw money and time into lead generation tactics that might not necessarily be driving future revenue.

So you can see where the disconnect is. But how can you align your two teams?

Well, we have some tips and tricks that we’ve used internally, and seen used across other businesses, we thought we would share.


How to align sales and marketing in your business

Looking for best practices when it comes to aligning your sales and marketing teams? We have a few key tips to get smarketing instilled in your business.

1. Set shared goals
2. Report on revenue
3. Share lead generation findings
4. Meet regularly
5. Onboard new team members to marketing
6. Attend sales meeting
7. Create content for whole funnel
8. Use sales insights from closed sales
9. Understand what each team wants
10. Relate content back to goals
11. Coordinate your campaigns with sales

Set shared goals

The best way to align sales and marketing is to have them striving for the same overall goal. Of course, they might have different personal KPIs or team KPIs, but ultimately they should all work together to drive new customers, not new leads.


Report on revenue

How can marketers report on revenue? Marketing attribution.

Tools like Ruler Analytics allow your marketers to track their leads across full buyer journeys and understand which leads are converting into sales.

By switching your reporting, you can ensure your teams are both working to drive more revenue.



Share lead generation findings

If you integrate your website, CRM and marketing tools with a marketing attribution tool like Ruler, your marketers will get oversight on how their work is influencing new leads and new sales.

But, your sales team will still be the best place to go to for insight into what makes your customers tick. They speak to leads and customers about their pain points. Use that insight to drive your marketing.


Onboard new team members to smarketing

You know the best way to implement a new strategy? Get them while they’re early! If you’re hiring new sales or marketing colleagues, get them integrated into smarketing as soon as possible.

While some of the existing team might be more difficult to convert, having a really strong onboarding process for new recruits means more advocates for you to get it to work.


Attend sales meetings

Of course, if your team implements marketing attribution, then your marketing team will get a good idea of sales. However, you still should have a presence at regular sales meetings.

Understanding your sales team and their current problems will allow you to identify possible solutions from the marketing team. Perhaps they’re wasting a lot of time with manual emails that you could take over with automations? Or maybe they want to hit a big list of old leads but don’t know where to start? Your marketing team could help create a segmented email cadence to drive warmer leads for sales to pick up.

Create content for the whole funnel

For each stage of the buyer’s journey, you want to be hitting your potential customers with relevant content. Without clear communication, your marketing team might be spending a lot of time writing SEO blogs, but not enough time writing strong case studies. By speaking to your sales team and devising content across the entire customer journey, you’re missing out potential opportunities for new content.

And don’t forget the sales collateral! You can’t have really strong web content to pull a lead in and then try to win them over with a sales deck you’ve had lying around for years.

Pull your marketing and sales team together to create strong sales collateral that can be used to convert leads.


Use sales insights from closed customers

You hire your sales team for a reason. You want them to get to know your customers and sell your product to them.

Use that insight!

While your marketing team will understand a lot of the issues your potential customer has, nobody knows them better than sales.


Understand what each team wants

Each team, and each colleague is going to have different KPIs. We accept that. But for true sales and marketing alignment, you need to understand what each team wants to achieve, and how they can work together to achieve it.

For example, your sales team wants to generate new sales. They probably also want to shorten the sales cycle to save them eight touchpoints with a lead each time before they convert.

How can marketing help? Well, they can create email marketing. Working together, they can create succinct workflows to allow leads to pass to and from marketing and sales as and when it’s necessary.


Relate content back to goals

Getting buy-in for new marketing initiatives can be tricky. But remember to remind sales reps that these initiatives are in place to reach new audiences, and hopefully drive new leads.

Brainstorming together is a great way to get sales feeling part of the process. However, any marketing campaigns need to solidly prove that their aim matches your overall goals.


Coordinate your campaigns with sales

In many marketing and sales teams, sales reps are left out of the processes. Including them is as simple as informing them of a new campaign, or new content process.

Keeping them abreast of your plans will allow them to feel like they’re being supported to drive new revenue.

Make sure you have clear processes in place when it comes to creating new leads. How are leads being passed over to the sales team? Even a simple email alerting them, with some details on where the leads came from and how they fit into your target consumer can be really helpful.


Wrapping up on smarketing

And there you have it. Some simple ideas to help align your sales and marketing teams.

Revenue attribution doesn’t need to be hard. And, we think the basis of smarketing is achieved simply by both teams reporting on revenue. When marketing teams are dealing with leads being picked up by the sales team, there is a huge amount of data being lost on both sides. Marketing can’t see where the lead has come from or how it progresses. Sales can’t see where the lead came from or provide further feedback on trends surrounding high and low-quality leads.

By implementing marketing attribution, you can close the data disconnect and give the right data, to the right people, in all of the right places.

Ruler Analytics supports marketers (and sales representatives) to better understand their leads and drive more, high-quality leads using data-driven insights.

Find out how you can begin the process of aligning your sales and marketing through attribution by booking a demo with one of our very own sales reps!

Book a demo Ruler Analytics