written by Marco Belmondo (Chief Marketing Officer at Datrix group)
If David Packard (the P of HP) said “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department” I would add “Sales is too important to be left to Sales”.
What is SMarketing
SMarketing is the process of integrating a company’s sales and marketing processes. The goal is that Sales and Marketing functions, too often and damagingly antagonistic, have a common integrated approach and this can only be based on the collection, analysis and activation of data from current and potential customers. To do SMarketing, sales and marketing teams must have the same goals, establish an SLA to define mutual expectations, talk frequently and openly to each other, agree on a common terminology and, above all, be data-driven, i.e. use data throughout the entire sales and marketing process to identify the characteristics of good prospects (buyer personas), decide on actions, measure and monitor progress and results. SMarketing works best when a company puts together a customer data platform that collects data from multiple internal and external sources, activates them possibly with marketing and sales automation functions and has a shared reporting system based on a unified marketing-sales funnel.
SMarketing is now key to success in a digital (and data) world.
Companies are rightly investing more and more in inbound marketing, i.e. attracting customers with valuable content and tailored experiences (through e.g. content marketing, SEO, social media and email marketing). SMarketing has in fact begun to be talked about as the importance of digital has grown, which in turn has brought with it a revolution in buying times, ways and processes: B2B and B2C customers can access any information, at any time, via the Internet, and can make more informed choices even without entering a store and/or meeting a salesperson. According to research, 60 percent of the buying cycle ends before a sales representative steps in.
Customers, even when engaging with salespeople, are more on the piece and sales-side inconsistencies with what customers have learned independently online (thanks to marketing) are not permissible, because the risk of missed opportunities is so high.
Covid has accelerated everything, limiting a lot in the case of B2B the activity of Direct Sales through Sales Representative.
Effective alignment of sales and marketing becomes a critical area of organizational strategy. If the two activities are managed as separate silos, the system no longer works. In order for companies to achieve their scalability and growth goals, it is critical that the two processes of Sales and Marketing are properly integrated, with “closed loop” reporting: for example, the sales team on an ongoing basis provides feedback on the quality of leads received, the sales team reports to marketing on what happened to the leads received.
What is SMarketing for
- Increase the ROI of sales and marketing. Sales gets detailed information about prospect and customer behavior and can turn a cold call into a hot call. When they become more relevant at each touch point, salespeople improve their success rate, achieving higher sales. Marketing better understands where the best leads are coming from, leads convert faster into paying customers. Marketing can then better allocate time and resources to maximize return on investment. According to HubSpot, companies that adopt SMarketing experience 27% higher results each year than those that don’t put sales and marketing in sync.
- Improve business cohesion and environment. When sales and marketing bury the hatchet, the climate immediately improves. Happy employees not only increase the company’s productivity, but also make it a magnet for outstanding talent.
The Role of Data and Artificial Intelligence for SMarketing
Data is the raw material and glue to keep Sales and Marketing together. They also keep the parties more honest and transparent with each other about goals, activities and results.
But what data? First and foremost, a customer data platform must integrate privacy-compliant first-party data, behavioral and transactional data, from all internal sources: from the Web (sites, apps, chatbots, …) to CRM, ERP and so on, based on the specificities and channels of each company. It is necessary to intelligently enrich them with external sources, think for example of the information that can be collected from search engines such as Google.
AI is the accelerator to bring SMarketing efforts to success, thanks to the ability to prepare data, analyze it, find correlations, quickly augmenting human intelligence. So here is the value of AI-based augmented analytics solutions to enable a 360° view of users and customers, identify and predict those with the highest value (based on propensity to buy, customer lifetime value, probability of abandonment), maximize conversions and loyalty through personalization, automation – where useful and possible – of marketing and sales actions and the online and offline customer experience.
It’s easy to understand why we at Datrix group and our companies have chosen to develop technological solutions (such as DataLysm and Sonar) for Sales & Marketing together, in one word for SMarketing.