September 28, 2022
In startups and scaleups, sales and marketing are often split. Marketing is focused on the website and collateral, driving leads and building the brand. Sales members make their own outreach and want more and higher qualified leads from marketing.
When companies dissolve this silo and align sales and marketing teams with the help of a smarketing strategy, they are more successful. So successful, in fact, studies show that companies focussing on smarketing benefit from a third more revenue and faster profit growth.
You might have seen HubSpot at one of their recent mimosa betabreakfasts where they talked about all things sales and marketing for startups. But in case you missed it, here’s a look at how to align your sales and marketing for faster business growth with two of the people leading sales and marketing at HubSpot’s Berlin office.
HubSpot (NYSE: HUBS) is a customer relationship management (CRM) platform that provides software and support to help companies grow better. Withmarketing, sales, service, operations, and website management products, HubSpot starts free and scales to meet their customers' needs at any stage of growth.
Today, more than 150,000 customers across more than 120 countries use HubSpot's powerful and easy-to-use tools and integrations to “attract, engage, and delight customers.” HubSpot has its HQ in Cambridge, Massachusetts and thousands of employees working across the globe in HubSpot offices and remotely.
Gregor Hufenreuter is Senior Director Sales DACH at HubSpot. He controls and expands the rapidly growing business of the CRM platform provider in Germany, Austria and Switzerland – both in direct sales and via the extensive partner network. The expert has been working in sales and sales operations for US and German software providers for more than 20 years.
Kathleen Jaedtke is a marketing expert, author and speaker. As Head of Marketing DACH, she leads the marketing team for the German-speaking countries at the CRM platform provider HubSpot. Before joining HubSpot, she managed the content marketing activities for Germany, Austria and Switzerland at Zalando and successfully built several international SEO teams. Since May 2020 she has been a lecturer as part of the SEO Manager training course at the Technical University of Cologne.
This year she is not only a member of the Forbes DACH 30 Under 30 jury, but also evaluates innovative projects in digital publishing as part of the dpr awards.
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Gregor: "Smarketing is a portmanteau of sales and marketing that describes a strategy in which the sales and marketing departments within a company work closely together and pursue common goals. This alignment is created through frequent and direct communication between the two.
The term “smarketing” was actually coined by HubSpot in the early 2000s. Smarketing not only improves the customer experience but also influences the overall success of a company. Studies show that companies pursuing a smarketing strategy achieve a third more revenue and faster profit growth."
Gregor: "Integrating a smarketing strategy within the early days of a business is a really important step not only to grow more quickly, but also more sustainably.
Often in startups , marketing and sales teams work mostly independently, and communication between them is scarce. As a result, team cohesion suffers but also the customer experience and corporate success.
This is the common scenario: Marketing is focused on the website, content and collateral to educate the market about the brand and its products. Their goal is to generate interest and convert contacts into qualified leads that fuel the sales pipeline. The sales team’s job is to qualify prospects, build relationships with them and provide them with solutions that support their goals or solve their pain points. They need a list of qualified leads to pursue and require higher qualified leads from marketing. It’s a very typical situation, no matter the company size, that the sales team says: “the marketing leads have a bad quality,” whilst marketers say: “sales does not work with our leads.”
Kathleen: "Often there is no understanding of the respective challenges sales and marketing teams are facing but they are actually pursuing the same goals, namely retaining new and existing customers and increasing company sales. Marketing and sales teams need to be in close alignment to ensure the company can effectively reach buyers on their terms. This has become even more important since traditional sales and marketing tactics are becoming less and less effective. In their place, cross-functional alignment and collaboration are the keys to scalable growth — and a top-tier customer experience."
Gregor: "Sales + Marketing = Smarketing. What initially looks like a simple calculation often means bringing about a cultural change in the company. Management of marketing and sales teams should work towards fostering understanding and empathy for each other. The employees in marketing and sales must understand exactly what the tasks and processes of the others look like. So understanding each other and exchanging the wishes and requirements of both departments is the first step towards successful smarketing.
The second step is to agree on common fundamentals such as sales funnels or flywheel stages, lead stages, buyer personas, lead handover processes, and KPIs that contribute to the company’s growth goals. To make the metrics binding, both teams can sign an internal Service Level Agreement. This ensures both teams are working towards the same goals. For example, marketing agrees to provide sales with a certain number of qualified leads each month, and sales commits to responding to them in a timely manner."
Kathleen: "Next is creating relevant and valuable content for the personas for all phases in the buyer’s journey. Your sales and marketing teams must align to ensure they are focusing on the same customers with the right messaging and content, investing resources where they will have the most impact, and delivering a seamless buying experience that will differentiate your product or services from the competition.
Uniting sales and marketing is the only way to get to collaborative selling and reduce friction within the customer experience. It helps tremendously if both departments use one CRM system as a single source of truth to have a uniform view of the customer database and interactions. At HubSpot, we are, of course, in a very favourable position. We just use our own solutions."
Gregor: "First of all, smarketing is working when the teams are able to keep to the internal Service Level Agreement. But alongside planning the strategy and executing it, there is one more step to take to heart: “measure, repeat, optimize”. The results of the collaboration should be evaluated at regular intervals in joint meetings. Talking points are the results, campaigns and product updates.
Kathleen and I have weekly meetings to analyze results, discuss strategies and tactics, evaluate SLA, such as number of leads generated, marketing qualified leads, percentage of leads processed and lead-to-customer conversion rate.
Then there is a quarterly smarketing team meeting with all members of marketing and sales. Furthermore, I would recommend quarterly business reviews between regional marketing and sales leaders to review results and trends, and to discuss plans to optimize."
Kathleen: "There’s a winning formula behind every growth strategy, and smarketing is no exception. Sales and marketing synergy is built upon trust and collaboration and can be achieved through seamless, automated transitions; consistent, personalized messages, timely engagement and a single source of truth."
Gregor: "Smarketing means wanting to achieve mutual goals together. At HubSpot, we are in very favourable position that the whole company lives a culture of open dialogue and transparency. Smarketing does not work with a top-down approach. You have to build closeness with the other team and want to achieve goals for the other team as well.
Communication is key. Both departments, marketing and sales, face challenges and opportunities to build and maintain trust and appreciation, among each other and with customers. Regular communication, meetings or team events prevent ambiguities, deepen team relationships and create opportunities for cooperation."
Kathleen: "It really comes down to understanding each other. As a start, job shadowing can be very helpful. Observing the other department to get an impression of their work. For marketers it is invaluable to understand sales pitches and know about objections from customers and analyze whether and how the sales team uses the marketing materials.
My tip for marketers is to look for an ally in sales for regular, direct exchange. You cannot ask enough questions. Is the smarketing project well received by the sales team, and if not, how can it be improved? For people interested in how sales and marketing teams can pull together we have a brand-new ebook on smarketing in German and English."
Gregor: "Another thing that is really useful in order to speak the same language is to use the same tools as your colleagues. Different tools and data sets often prevent a uniform view of the customer database and lead to friction in the customer experience. A CRM system ensures that marketing, sales and support have access to a uniform customer database, which makes business processes faster, cheaper and more customer-centric."
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There's more where this came from! If you want to read more expert interviews, take a look at our Startup Resources.