New data on why it’s important for sales and marketing to work together
Countless research papers, industry leaders and the media have reported on the importance of a strong bond between sales and marketing teams. As similar disciplines with shared business objectives, it seems obvious that they should be in-step with each other. And, according to new LinkedIn research, almost three quarters of marketers and sales teams believe that their teams are doing just that and are collaborating successfully.
For the first time, we’re now able to look at interactions on the LinkedIn network to reveal whether the actions of sales and marketing teams reflect what they say. The result? Things aren’t quite as they seem.
It turns out that there’s a worrying gap between what sales and marketing teams believe and the reality.
We found that over half of sales and marketing professionals on LinkedIn aren’t connected to their counterparts within the same organisation, suggesting teams aren’t working as closely as they might think. This disconnect comes at a cost, with almost two thirds of sales and marketing professionals reporting missed business opportunities as a result of poor collaboration.
When they are working together, the indications are that it can positively impact the bottom line. LinkedIn members who have been exposed to a company’s marketing are 25% more likely to respond to contact from a sales rep at the company.
So how can sales and marketing make sure they’re putting in place the right building blocks for success in 2017?
The importance of measurement
Make measurement a priority. Without measuring the impact of sales and marketing collaboration, how can companies understand where opportunities are being gained or missed, and where this partnership could be improved? Less than a third of those we surveyed believed that their business measured the impact of collaboration between sales and marketing - leaving over two thirds of businesses in the dark. Yet our data shows that those companies that do measure collaboration are more likely to collaborate well.
Sales and marketing professionals already know that sharing objectives and goals is a top way to improve collaboration between their two teams. But what about sharing budgets? There’s clearly a natural tension around this, with just 14% of professionals in the UK agreeing that shared budgets will help collaboration - but teams can’t truly be aligned unless they are on the same page financially. You don’t necessarily have to start big - perhaps begin by sharing budget pots for smaller projects and test and prove the concept.
Putting the customer first
While internal processes are key for giving collaboration a boost, don’t forget that the customer is number one. As the buying journey becomes increasingly complex, a better understanding of the customer is essential - yet just a fifth of sales and marketing professionals say that the customer-buying experience is always aligned between the two teams. It goes without saying that a better understanding of the customer’s digital journey would improve collaboration. Putting the customer at the core of a business is no longer a nice to have, but a crucial ingredient for success in today’s sceptical, noisy, digital world.
Getting back to basics
A few simple steps can also make a big difference, and this is where smaller organisations may the have the advantage. A quarter of respondents felt that sitting together could help improve collaboration and nearly half said that regular team meetings would also make a positive difference. Many sales and marketing professionals also cited socialising together and job swaps as ways to boost collaboration in their organisation.
This will only get teams so far, however. Both marketing and sales professionals agree that arming the sales team with marketing skills, and vice versa, will help to improve collaboration - so it’s worth investing training to get the most out of your teams.
In the B2B space, where customer journeys can take years and rely on multiple decision makers, close collaboration between sales and marketing is paramount to boost brand awareness, loyalty and, ultimately, the bottom line. More integration between the two teams should be on every B2B marketer’s to-do list for 2017.