Many companies around the world still lag in their ability to integrate and align sales goals with marketing activities, and the problem is having a significant impact on overall business performance, according to a research report by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council.
The report, entitled 'Closing the gap: The sales and marketing alignment imperative', revealed that over 55% of the 500+ sales & marketing professionals surveyed by the CMO Council and its CLOSE community said that their companies have yet to (or are only planning to) implement formal programmes, systems or processes for unifying sales and marketing functions.
Benefits of alignment
Of those respondents who said that their company has done so already, nearly 50% reported success in synchronising and optimising these often-polarised business functions.
While most business leaders recognise the benefits of better alignment between sales and marketing functions, many appear to be held back by a lack of adequate processes and systems, by siloed operations, by insufficient management mandates, and by ineffective reporting and organisational structure, the study found.
View from the top
An additional factor observed by the study is that some companies are holding on to historical biases concerning the roles of sales and marketing, making alignment and collaboration much more difficult to achieve. When marketers were asked how they viewed the sales function, 40% said they had some top producers but that there was mostly a need for improvement.
However, sales professionals tended to have much more tactical view of marketing, with only 10% seeing marketers as "market savvy" and "on target" with demand generating campaigns. Some 41% rated marketing poorly for its ability to provide good content as well as the right sales support materials.
Respondents did agree that the top three measures of sales performance and productivity are:
- Lead quality and ROI;
- Conversion and close rates;
- Level of action on opportunities.
Among the key findings of the study report:
- Less than 20% of respondents said that their sales and marketing organisations were "extremely collaborative", and most others felt that the two groups had "intermittent relations and interactions".
- Looking at the ways in which sales could add value to marketing messages and communications, survey participants felt that engaging strategically with customers to better understand their problems and needs was the most valuable contribution.
- Two of the most important roles that marketing can play in optimising sales performance were cited as "fielding campaigns that generate and nurture leads and opportunities", and "providing customised value-selling content and presentation materials".
- Only 12% of sales and marketing professionals said that they have a well-integrated, real-time view of all customer interactions, and only 37% reported good visibility into prospects, sales pipeline, deal flow and conversion rates. At the same time, 20% indicated that marketing currently hands leads to sales but has no insight into conversion and sales closures.
- 13% said that most sales leads are never captured, qualified, or acted upon, while 11% reported that they have no on-premise or on-demand CRM system in place.
- Among those who have CRM applications, only 13% viewed the application as "highly valued and widely deployed", while 42% reported growing acceptance and adoption. And, while CRM systems tend to be mandated and adopted across the sales function, they tend to be more selectively embraced by marketing teams.
- Data analytics, reporting, and forecasting tend to be the biggest deficiencies in optimising the functionality and usability of current CRM solutions. The top three areas highlighted by nearly 50% of respondents were: the ability to easily create analytical reports; customisation of the application; and forecasting capabilities.
- While 50% said they had "pretty good" or "extensive" visibility in to customer accounts and business activity, the remaining 50% said that they often had trouble finding customer account data, did not have enough information, or had no information at all.
The full report can be purchased directly from the CMO Council for US$199.