By Tamuka James Chinzvende
ONE day scrolling through Facebook, something caught my attention; it was a post in a group by a customer from one of our largest companies. The customer was complaining about the bad service she had received from the company on the service they were aggressively advertising. Whilst reading through the customer’s comment, my ‘aha’ moment came when the customer mentioned her main source of infuriation. It turned out that the Salesperson/Customer Service Representative from the company was not knowledgeable enough on the marketing campaign that was being run.
Immediately, upon learning of this, I knew that the problem with this company was not on the company’s service per se; it was the simple fact that there was no alignment between the Sales and Marketing Teams of this company, something that is called Smarketing.
In most businesses, the relationship between the Sales and Marketing Teams is often a cat and mouse kind of a relationship. Sales often argue that it is there to bring money and hates Marketing for the fact that it is spending the money for no apparent reason and it is often Accounts who has to be the referee and the customer is the biggest casualty of all this because Marketing will tell a customer one thing and Sales will tell that very same customer another which often becomes a source of agitation and may end up costing the company business.
Before I go further, I must break down what Sales and Marketing Alignment or Smarketing is. The basic definition of it is that it is a shared system of communication, strategy and goals that enables the Marketing and Sales Team to operate in a unified way without being in its own silo.
If you think about the Sales and Marketing Process, many people will describe it as a funnel that is wider at the top and narrows as it goes towards the bottom. Traditionally (which is the case with most Zimbabwean Companies) marketing would control the top of the funnel working to bring customers into the funnel and Sales would control the bottom, getting the leads who are ready to buy and squeezing every dollar out of them.
After the lead exits the funnel, they go into oblivion. Think about it? How many businesses have you interacted with that have tried to get in touch with you after you made your initial purchase? In most cases, especially on this side of the world, it’s never.
Sales is a function of Marketing and it’s the job of Marketing to create retainer and recurring customers. An organization that has successfully implemented Sales and Marketing Alignment will never lose a customer to a competitor.
To go abroad with Smarketing, think about the core responsibilities of both Marketing and Sales Teams. For Marketing Teams, core responsibilities include building brand awareness, generating demand, creating sales content and managing customer experiences. And core sales team responsibilities include generating revenue, managing customer relationship and managing the pipeline. When we combine the two core responsibilities of these two teams, you will find that one of the things that will come out of it is creating a consistent customer experience as a client that would have purchased from Sales will be handed back over to the Marketing team to help amplify that customers experience with the brand and nurture then further for the second sale.
Further to that, when Sales and Marketing Teams are aligned, Marketing easily supports sales by doing things such as Educating Buyers Effectively, Nurturing and Qualifying Leads, Influencing the Marketing and Consistently Engaging Customers while Sales will reciprocate by Managing Customer Health, Providing Market Dynamics and helping content on real-world problems affecting the Customers.
If you want the Sales Process to be easy in your organization, it’s important to Align your Marketing and Sales such that they work in uniformity. Another thing you will benefit from Smarketing is the ability to Quickly Close New Sales as you would have a way to differentiate between Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) and Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL).
To differentiate between the two, MQL and SQL, you will find that whilst both Marketing Qualified Leads and Sales Qualified Leads are sales-ready, MQLs might not be sales-ready but not yet ready for Direct attention from Sales, these leads would need attention through Nurturing from Marketing. Sales Qualified Leads on the other hand are ready to make a purchase which will result in a shorter process for the Sales Representatives.
The only way you can differentiate and make use of the MQL and SQL framework is through Smarketing and Sales and Marketing Alignment.
Now to conclude, I will go back to the story I started the article with of the infuriated customer. If the company in question had marketing and sales teams that were working in unison, the Marketing Team would have provided the Sales Team with enough material to help resolve customer queries and questions.
The same also applies to the Sales Teams, they would have provided the Marketing Team with information that would have helped reword or revise their campaigns based on customer feedback which in the end would ensure the customer wins.