March 23, 2014

Achieving "Smarketing" is challenging

Have you heard of "smarketing"?  I don’t know who is credited with coming up with the term itself, but I think it's fantastic!  

It’s a term to describe the desired alignment between an Inside Sales team and a Marketing team: Sales + Marketing = Smarketing  

I always like 'branding' complex concepts and ideas with memorable names because it provides a shared vocabulary. And, unfortunately, aligning Insides Sales and Marketing teams tends to be complex and fraught with tension. It doesn’t have to be and it absolutely shouldn’t be. If there were any two teams who need to be actively collaborating and working hand-in-hand it is inside sales and marketing. 

So why does the relationship between Inside Sales and Marketing teams get tense and complex?

This Harvard Business Review blog summarizes the key drivers of the trend of companies to move more toward inside sales.  And in includes this quote that, for me, illustrates the crux of the marketing/insides sales dynamic:

Inside Sales is a transactional engagement and the focus is on opening opportunities. Outside teams are solution and relationship based...our Inside Sales...require persistence, research and back end work

This highlights two ideas that can fuel tension between marketing and inside sales teams:

a) that inside sales is transactional and
b) the work of inside sales requires persistence and research.

Here’s the thing: if Inside Sales work is transactional, then the leads delivered by Marketing must be highly, highly qualified and just moments away from a purchase decision.  And if Inside Sales requires persistence and research, then the sales rep is accountable for actively working leads delivered by Marketing; being persistent and creative about cultivation.

So Inside Sales wants Marketing to deliver them large volumes of highly transactional leads, and Marketing expects Sales to be persistent about cultivating and closing. Tension, anyone?

I’ve found true collaboration and "smarketing" can occur if the two teams align around the business metrics that need to be optimized. And by opening the kimono around the processes of each of the teams. Active dialog on both fronts helps smooth out rough edges and keeps the expectations of each team well managed.  

In an earlier post I wrote about the many benefits of getting everyone to sing off the same metrics song sheet, and a significantly more collaborative inside sales and marketing team relationship is a key benefit.

Inside Sales is a growing trend, and Marketing leaders must embrace it. Kick it off on the right foot and actively collaborate with your sales lead. Own the process to ensure both teams are aligned on priorities and have a common view of the metrics for business success.  This will help smooth out the rough patches on your way toward true “smarketing”.

I'd love to hear from you. What are you doing to achieve “smarketing” in your organization? Any tips to share?