A Look at the HubSpot Inbound Methodology at Work in Sales


The smartest business trend for 2017: Smarketing.

Aligning Sales and Marketing

No, it’s not a typo. “Smarketing” is the word to define the collaboration and alignment of the Marketing and Sales teams at your business. Part of the HubSpot Inbound Methodology is to attract new leads, and convert those leads at the right stage of the buyer’s journey. However, the effectiveness of those conversions is highly dependent on information that both teams have, but fail to share with one another. It seems like a no-brainer, but few companies actually take action to enable their teams to effectively communicate and work together.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

The Aberdeen Group conducted a recent study which found that businesses with highly aligned sales and marketing organizations grew their revenue at a rate of 32% annually, whereas less aligned competitors saw a decrease of 7%. These numbers are staggering and serve as a clear indication that Smarketing isn’t just jargon, it’s justified. So why is this alignment rare?

The Sales and Marketing teams are both seeking the same end: increasing revenue. But unfortunately, the processes to realize this goal are often at odds with one other. Some marketers tend to see Sales as cut-throat and simplistic, and some sellers may see Marketing as artsy and irrelevant.

There isn’t any actual animosity between the two departments, just a lack of clarity. So the first step towards successful Smarketing is to open up a dialogue; get all team members to speak the same language!

  • Does the sales team have a monthly quota?
  • Does the marketing pipeline have a monthly average of conversions?

These two numbers are vital not only to their respective departments, but also to the business as a whole. If all team members are aware of actionable objectives, they can work more efficiently to reach these goals. Setup monthly or quarterly meetings so everyone can get on the same page, and consistently stay in contact throughout the entire conversion process. To take this one step further, you can even create a Service Level Agreement that both teams agree to. This officially quantifies the cooperation between Sales and Marketing. It states the number of leads that Marketing will identify, and the number of leads that Sales will pursue in a given time period. An example of a simple SLA might look like this:

  • Marketing will deliver 100 leads per sales representative, per month.
  • Sales will make 1 attempt to engage in 4 business hours after getting a lead, with 5 attempts in 14 days.

Most SLAs incorporate a point system for this, which allows the differentiation between average leads (low point score) and fantastic leads (high point score). Just make sure that the SLA is written in a language that both departments can understand. If having a dollar value helps clarify the importance of lead conversion for your team, then ditch the points system and go to dollar. And feel free to adjust it going forward. Remember, no SLA is perfect on day 1. But by implementing an SLA, you are stating crystal clear expectations with quantifiable results. In fact, organizations with an SLA are over 5X as likely to be effective. Your employees will appreciate the transparency, and this will enable further cooperation.

Closed Loop Reporting

Now that your Marketing and Sales teams are speaking the same language, it’s important to set up a defined system for communication.

How many times has a marketer identified a good lead, then never heard back from Sales if that lead ended up becoming a customer? Or how about a sales associate managing duplicate leads, because two marketing team members each reported the same person? These are common discrepancies that many businesses face, and closed loop reporting serves as a safeguard against human error based on these types of miscommunication.

Closed loop refers to the never-ending communication cycle between the two teams. Integrating software is a data-driven method for this communication. For example, if Marketing shares its HubSpot data and Sales shares its Salesforce data, it will become clear how individual marketing promotions affect the increase in leads and conversion rate throughout the entire sales funnel. Marketing will appreciate the sales process tips because it will allow them to craft content that is more likely to convert new leads.

You can even automate portions of this reporting for further efficiency. Send automatic updates to your sales team when their leads revisit the website or take other key actions, to make sure to follow up at the best time. It’s amazing how a simple marketing email (stating a lead has revisited the site) can lead to amazing results from the sales side. Share as much information as possible with each team, making it easy for them to leverage lead intelligence, and get data on if leads convert to customers. This intel helps all parties understand their best practices, and ultimately close more deals!

For example, learn how to communicate effectively using your CRM and how to use it effectively with the following infographic:


To further align your Sales and Marketing teams, the goal is to have clear communication lines and effective tools for lead conversion. But oftentimes each department has a separate definition for what a lead truly looks like. Consider that an incredible 61% of B2B marketers admit to sending leads directly to Sales without qualification. Incorporating a Universal Lead Definition (ULD) can remedy this. A ULD explicitly states the parameters for what constitutes a sales-ready lead. The Sales and Marketing teams should sit down together and come up with typical pain-points, behavior, and goals for their ideal customers. This allows accurate customization for the Smarketing process. Defining leads also helps to separate the “good” leads from the truly “sales-ready” leads. By keeping a ULD in mind, the marketing team can tailor their outreach to the most likely buyers, and the Sales team can better understand their needs and what it will take to close the deal.

Although your Sales and Marketing departments are part of the same company, it takes effort to ensure that both sides feel they are on the same team. However, by implementing these cooperative strategies, you can grow both the quantity and quality of leads, attract new customers, and make 2017 your most successful year yet.

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