I recently discussed the idea of ‘smarketing’ – an amalgamation of sales and marketing- with colleagues, as well as in a blog discussing the changing dynamic between the two, and how it may develop in the coming years.

I mentioned how regardless of industry the goal is to have these two departments working in tandem towards common business goals. Though it may be easy to create this harmony on paper, aligning the departments to achieve a cooperative approach in the real world is a more challenging task.

Off the back of this and with the need for an actionable approach, I have put together some valuable tips from a recent presentation by Scott Stevens, Director of Recruitment and Acquisitions at Quilter Financial Planning, on how to achieve this equal platform and how to gain alignment.

1) Establish a culture of open and constant communication between the sales team and the marketing team

Communication and culture play a huge part in working harmoniously and effectively with any team member and the same absolutely applies with sales and marketing teams. There are a couple of things you can do to aid this development.

Firstly, by making sure someone is responsible for the relationship with sales you add accountability. When at least one person is tasked with ensuring progress it is far more likely to succeed.

Secondly, collocate. Be in and around the sales teams wherever possible. Marketing will gain a better insight into their pains and gains, what sales are doing will rub off and marketing will begin to be considered as a part of them and therefore have a larger influence.

Thirdly, ensure your marketing director attends board meetings with the sales director so they are talking with one voice. It will be much harder for the board to disagree with both of them and it positions the two teams as equals.

2) Clarify the roles and functions of each department

This might seem obvious but it is so important to set expectations and scope for each role or function. This way both parties know what is expected of them and what to expect of the other. Ultimately, they are working to the same overarching business objectives so be clear on each departments role in getting there.

One area to look at is implementing compatible success metrics and performance indicators, eg how many warm leads are marketing going to generate and what will happen with the warm leads? Are sales following up with them? Start to establish the rules of engagement, joint targets and, where possible, rotate jobs or projects between the two departments to establish mutual appreciation.

3) Create a unified sales and marketing strategy

A clear and transparent sales and marketing strategy ensures both teams understand the ultimate goals and what each other’s roles are within that. Set the teams to achieve complementary goals and set shared revenue targets where possible to naturally encourage working together. Individuals will have a better understanding of the bigger picture and why both teams benefit from this combined approach.

4) Align assets and resources used by both departments

Configuring the pipelines and funnels that link the teams’ workflows and how clients purchase is another crucial step in achieving sales and marketing alignment.

Within your CRM, you need to negotiate that all activity should be within one CRM system and ensure clear categorisation within it. It should be the one sole source of information and if something is not logged in the system then it should be considered as having never happened. Why is this so important? Without that recorded data, marketers cannot create a great ‘attack pack’ that shows how a campaign performed. Sales must understand the needs of the marketers as well as vice versa.

Lead quality is crucial for sales and marketing alignment. Working out with sales an agreed upon definition of a marketing qualified lead and a sales qualified lead will help to ensure that quality is met. In the same vein ensuring you are also aligned around the definitions, qualification criteria and processes when it comes to lead scoring, marketing automation and contact strategy will lead to better outputs for all parties.

Lastly, prioritise what is actually important. Find out what sales are using regularly, particularly around collateral, so that your time is being invested in the elements that will add value. Technology such as Showpad and Seismic can really help with this.

5) Optimising technology

Enable technology that delivers something tangible. Being ahead of the curve with technology is hugely advantageous and if you are not ahead and innovating, you need to start thinking about this. A few things to consider in this space include chatbots, sales collateral and using AI in the writing of performance reports. On top of obvious benefits for the business, sales will really value the advantages this can provide them with.

There is a way to go for the asset management industry in achieving this full ‘sales with marketing’ alignment but looking at the changes in organisational behaviours and processes in more recent times, accelerated perhaps by the new working norms, we are moving in the right direction.