For a very long time, there has always been a thin line dividing “sales” and “marketing”. Some would argue that there would be no sales if there is no marketing while others would insist that marketing will be useless without sales. In some cases, there are those that think the two are one and the same, and we cannot really blame them, when even companies themselves are confused regarding these two functions.

The raging argument somehow seems pointless at times, considering how the two are working towards a common goal, which is to generate revenue and earn profit. The two sides may argue endlessly, but that does not change the fact that they are geared towards the same thing.

Now the challenge that most companies are faced with is making these two functions work together in a seamless manner, with no overlaps and no clashes, making way for a smooth and harmonious (and ultimately profitable) synergy.

SMARKETING: How to Integrate Sales and Marketing

© | Yury Shchipakin

In this article, I will explore 1) the concept of SMARKETING and show 2) how to integrate sales and marketing.


First things first: what is Smarketing?

Smarketing is coined from two words: Sales and Marketing. It is a modern take on how these two functions work as a single team instead of two separate teams with different objectives and goals. In the past, Marketing was only fixed on market penetration, building brand identity and creation of lead opportunities. Their work ends when they have provided the leads, and they will then turn the ball over to Sales, who will be the one to convert the leads into sales using a high-performing sales funnel.

With Smarketing, however, Marketing’s job does not end there. They will also provide support for Sales. In return, Sales will also support Marketing. It’s a more dynamic relationship, which makes a lot of sense since they are both in the same organization and sharing the same goals.

Some businesses take Smarketing a step further by actually merging the two departments into one. It’s a matter of strategy and management, so the final decision on whether to merge the two, or maintain them as two separate departments working as a single unit, remains with the owners of the business or the top brass.

Importance of Smarketing

Why is there a need for companies to employ Smarketing?

Simple. It is for the company to add value and generate more revenue. According to business experts, companies that ensure a solid alignment of their sales and marketing policies are able to increase their revenue by 20% annually. The revenue growth could even reach up to 32% if the organization is considered to be “highly aligned”.

Let us take a look at the two traits that characterize smarketing.

  1. Smarketing entails the alignment of both the sales and marketing policies of the company around the same goals. This implies that the company should have a clear and well-defined set of business goals and objectives, and they must be known by all members of the organization. It has been mentioned that Sales and Marketing share the same ultimate goal, which is revenue generation and growth. In this aspect alone, the two are already aligned. However, it is possible that the short-term objectives of the sales department may slightly differ from that of the marketing department. In this case, it is important that each team have a clear view of each other’s goals and objectives, as well as the progress they are making in pursuit of those goals and objectives.
  2. Smarketing also entails alignment around personas. To this end, it is essential that persona details be communicated across and throughout the company and, whenever necessary, everyone must be educated about new persona details. This also applies to the formation of teams. When it comes to creating dynamic groups or specializing teams, it should be done around particular personas.

For example, if the company decides to form a team specializing in non-profit sales, they should be aligned with the non-profit marketing team, as they cultivate the same or similar persona.

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You have probably heard many businessmen declare that integrating sales and marketing into one solid and cohesive unit is easier said than done. They would be right. It takes a lot of effort, a lot of planning, and also a lot of motivation to make it work.

Organizations may integrate Smarketing, or sales and marketing, into their organization, by taking the following steps.

Step 1. Reach an understanding by speaking the same language.

One of the points of contention between sales and argument is that they speak different languages: sales only care about the numbers, while marketing is about creating leads. According to Sales, Marketing comes up with leads that are of terrible quality. Marketing, on the other hand, argues that they fail to meet their goal because Sales does not work on their leads. On the surface, this does seem to be the case. However, if you look deeper, you will realize that what the two functions boil down to is the same: revenue generation and revenue growth. Marketing will generate the leads that, in turn, will generate sales.

Here’s the hard fact: Sales and Marketing do speak the same language, and it is called Revenue. Similarly, Sales and Marketing work with the same audience: the customers.

How will sales and marketing work together?

  • It all starts at one point – the goal that is shared by the two, which is revenue.

Say, for example, that the revenue goal of the business for the year is $100,000. Taking into account the actual revenue being earned by the company and the current number of customers, you will be able to come up with the average deal size, or the average revenue earned from each customer. Let us assume that, from current actual numbers, the average deal size is $1,000. By dividing the revenue goal of $100,000 by the average deal size, the number of customers that the company needs in order to achieve its goal is 100.

From there, you can compute the average Lead to Customer percentage by dividing the current number of customers with the current leads employed by the company. Let us again assume that the average rate is 4%. In order to find out the number of leads required by the company to achieve its revenue goal, you have to divide the number of customers needed with the rate. In this instance, it is 100 customers divided by 4%, resulting to 2,500. This means that the marketing has to target 2500 leads in order to achieve enough sales to meet the target revenue.

In that example, it is clear that Sales and Marketing understand each other, even if the language spoken was mainly numbers. This understanding stems from the fact that they are operating on the same wavelength and working back from their shared goal.

  • To this end, marketing should not just focus on creating leads randomly. They should be sales-ready leads.

A sales-ready lead is one that generates a high level of interest.

A lead that has a low level of interest and a poor fit must be avoided at all costs, since they will not make any money for the company. If the lead is a great fit, but generates little interest, efforts must be made towards stimulating interest so as to increase it. If the lead has high interest and proves to be a great fit, it is one that must be followed up quickly. That is a sales-ready lead.

  • There must be a clear delineation of the main responsibilities of the teams. This is to avoid overlapping of tasks or functions, and usurping of authority. Establishing clear lines will give rise to respect among and between the two groups and, at the same time, leave a lot of room for them to support each other and work together.

Step 2. Install a closed-loop reporting system.

Some of the problems encountered in the relationship between sales and marketing include the following:

  • Failure of Sales to follow-up on leads provided by Marketing
  • Duplication of leads leading to redundancy and inefficiencies
  • Providing incomplete leads
  • Lack of information on the effect of marketing policies on revenue

These problems arise from the lack of closed-loop reporting between Sales and Marketing. Closed-Loop reporting is essentially the feedback loop between the two departments, where marketing passes intelligence to Sales, and Sales provided feedback on the intelligence it receives.

Both Marketing and Sales benefit from this type of feedback mechanism.

  • Marketing will be able to update its database and statuses;
  • Marketing (and the company as a whole) will be able to assess the effectiveness of its marketing programs, clearly identifying those that work and those that don’t;
  • Marketing will be able to take steps to improve its return on investment;
  • Sales will improve its efficiency by eliminating the need to work on duplicated leads;
  • Sales will be able to prioritize leads more effectively and efficiently;
  • Sales will be able to increase its return on investment.

Step 3. Implement a Service Level Agreement.

A Service Level Agreement, or SLA, is a statement of the commitment of each team in order to support the other team. Essentially, they will both be defining what they will accomplish so they can support each other. Some may say that the mere fact that they are committed to being aligned around the same goals is already enough; however, the SLA will cement that commitment and make it more binding.

  • Make the SLA clear. Note that the keyword for SLA is “agreement”. It is between two parties so that both parties will benefit from each other’s support. It is a quid pro quo relationship, where Marketing will provide the number of high-quality leads required to achieve the company’s revenue target, while Sales will be responsible for quickly following up on leads that will generate the required revenue.

For example, Marketing will be responsible in figuring out the number of leads of a certain quality that a sales representative needs in order to meet a quota set by the company. Sales, on the other hand, will figure out how many times the sales representative must make contact or engage to every lead, so they will not be wasted. Let us say, in this instance, that a sales representative must deliver 100 leads monthly in order to meet the monthly revenue target, and he or she is expected to call a lead 6 times within a two-week period.

  • SLA progress must be tracked regularly. Preferably, tracking must be done on a daily basis. It is important to take note of whether the Service Level Agreement is being adhered to or not, and what the results of its implementation are.

Step 4. Establish and maintain open lines of communication.

In every relationship, communication is key. Two parties will have better chances of working together if they are willing and able to communicate with each other. In Smarketing, communication also plays a crucial role. It eliminates inconsistencies in messaging and prevents the spread of incorrect data or information. It is also one way of brand protection.

  • Conduct regular Smarketing meetings. Many companies make it a point to conduct smarketing meetings weekly. This is where they will discuss the respective teams’ progress so far, their successes, and other matters pertinent to the smarketing efforts of the company. Make sure that all members of the Sales team, as well as the Marketing team, are present during these meetings.
  • Conduct regular management meetings. Regular meetings should not be limited among and between the two teams only. Key managers should also make it a point to meet monthly to tackle any issues or topics that need to be resolved or discussed.
  • Sell your marketing campaign to the Sales team. All campaigns formulated by Marketing must first be marketed to the sales team. Share all the information about the campaigns to Sales so that they, too, will be able to plan accordingly on what actions they would take for the campaign to be successful and generate high revenue.
  • Sell your product to the Sales team. This means giving your Sales team all the information about the products and services that the company is offering to the market. Sales will be the team on the frontlines, so they must be more than adequately armed with the knowledge on why the target market should pay attention to, and eventually buy, the products or services that they are selling.

Step 5. Gather and store reliable data that can be used by the teams.

Data sharing is also called for in Smarketing. All key information should be synchronized between Sales and Marketing, particularly if the organization’s information system is fully automated.

Relying on data is not enough. It is also important that the data be reliable and relevant.

  • Data must be accessible by both teams. Businesses that with a solidly integrated smarketing setup often use common dashboards that contain reports that are relevant to both teams. The content of the dashboards must be transparent, available to everyone, and kept up to date.

The primary purpose of dashboards is to display the progress or give status updates, and enable the teams to take the necessary corrective steps, if necessary. In the case of marketing dashboards, the objective is to measure and communicate the progress in accordance with the terms set forth on the SLA. Through the marketing dashboards, teams can check daily whether they are on track in achieving their targeted number of leads.

Sales, on the other hand, are seen to use Sales Dashboards, which are usually presented by day or by week. This dashboard displays the progress of the Sales team towards the goal and making comparisons with the previous period.

  • Data is required to track leads, so they must be flexible and are capable of being tracked. Companies do this in several ways.
    • By campaign. Tracking is done according to the campaign. Campaigns are bound to have different results or performance metrics. These metrics must be analyzed in order to figure out which one gets the most traffic, which one generates the most number of leads, and which one successfully turns the leads into buying customers.
    • By source. In this method, goals are established per source of lead, and progress is measured for each effort done.
  • Perform monthly analysis through monthly marketing reports. This is to ultimately assess whether Marketing was able to reach its targets or not, how it succeeded, and why it failed, if that’s the case. It is a given that all members of the organization or all levels of the company be able to access this report.
  • Prepare sales activity reports. This report will communicate how many leads were worked on by the sales team, and how successful they were in generating sales.
  • Utilizing an integration software or technology is highly recommended. Take a look at the software used by the teams and find a way to integrate or connect them. This will facilitate easier sharing of data.

Step 6. Monitor through shared performance metrics.

Alignment is not a one-time thing. It is an ongoing process that takes place for as long as the business is in operation. Smarketing requires continuous monitoring and analysis of feedback obtained from performance metrics. Naturally, alignment of Sales and Marketing means having performance metrics shared by both teams. This is actually a good thing, since there is a wider perspective when assessing performance. Instead of assessing each team’s performance, the shared performance metrics will give top management a “wider” view.

The thing to remember about integrating Sales and Marketing is that it requires teamwork. It is a team effort, where everyone has to pitch in. Differences in personalities and character notwithstanding, they should all work together in their respective departments, and as part of a single integrated team, to make the alignment work, always keeping in mind that they have the same ultimate goal.

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