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Guest Blogger

by Simon Johnson, UK & I General Manager, Freshworks

Systemic problems in the relationship between sales and marketing teams have always existed – through good times and bad, the two teams often feel outsized pressure to perform. In times of prosperity, they’re seen as the engines driving a company’s success and are often pressured to generate even more growth. In leaner times, the pressure is on to find new customers who will help the business survive.

In the last year, these problems have only been exacerbated: working under lockdown and facing an impending economic downturn, business development teams struggled to coordinate their efforts and collaborate on strategy.

Better alignment between sales and marketing teams has long been seen as both a challenge and opportunity. At Freshworks, we wanted to find out how big of an issue this was – and at a time of significant economic difficulty, whether better alignment could actually bring much-needed business success.

Misalignment leads to missed opportunities

Sales and marketing teams work better when they work together: our research found that businesses whose sales and marketing teams were more aligned were more likely to increase acquisition rates and generate more revenue.

In 2020, 25% of salespeople who said they weren’t “highly aligned” with marketing on goals and objectives saw revenue drops of more than 20%. Yet, of those companies who said their sales and marketing functions were “highly aligned”, just 6% saw such dramatic falls in revenue.

The situation was the same in the reverse. Of marketers who said their performance metrics weren’t well-aligned with those of sales, 66% were unable to hit their lead-generation rates over the previous year. This reduced by nearly half to just 34% of those who were highly aligned.

Roadblocks to alignment

The fact that there’s significant misalignment between the two teams isn’t anything we haven’t heard before. What’s concerning is that with the advances we’ve seen in technology and the money that businesses are willing to spend to help bridge this gap, why are so many still struggling with this? And critically, what can be done to overcome it and achieve the holy grail of the 360° view of the customer?

The use of disparate, siloed technology was seen as the greatest obstacle to achieving optimal sales-marketing alignment, cited by nearly three in five (59%) of UK respondents in our survey, with a further quarter (27%) citing a lack of accurate data. Clunky software causes information about prospects and customers to sit fragmented across multiple sales and marketing systems, meaning businesses are losing out on significant revenue.

After all, if sales and marketing teams can’t access up-to-date details about clients and prospects – and if those details aren’t accurate – then they’ll have a tough task converting prospects into customers. If marketers don’t know which leads will ultimately convert, they won’t know how to optimise their lead-gen efforts. And if sales teams don’t have the right context or insight from marketing, they will find it difficult to seamlessly continue the conversation with a prospect.

At a time when customer service really makes or breaks a business, being able to offer that complete, view of the customer can help an organisation develop customers for life. With nearly two-thirds (64%) of companies lacking this 360° understanding of their customers, gaining this insight can immediately put businesses ahead of their competition.

Visibility is key

Given the fragmentation of data across an organisation, it’s no surprise that the number one demand from both sales and marketing teams was to have more visibility into the other’s activities. From the sales side, greater visibility into prospects’ top of funnel activities, such as website visits, chatbot interactions and engagement with marketing content was the top most commonly cited concern. And when we asked marketers the same question, the majority similarly put visibility into bottom of funnel outcomes as one of their five greatest needs.

It’s here that an easy-to-use CRM platform can help keep the two teams aligned. By using a CRM system consistently, and keeping prospect data clean and up-to-date, sales and marketing professionals are provided with ‘one truth’ on which to build customer relationships. Both sales and marketing departments must follow the correct procedure, enter information quickly and accurately, and consistently deliver personalised messaging to prospects and customers alike. It is only through proper data hygiene within the CRM that these disparate and fragmented data points can be joined up.

Creating unity between sales and marketing

As much as sales and marketing teams say they want to work together, there has often been a clear lack of alignment between the two functions.

Too often, the two teams lack the insight they need to make better, more informed decisions about prospects and customers. This requires a 360° view of customer profiles, enabled by a shared CRM platform. When sales and marketing work in unison, towards coordinated goals and strategies, the benefits are clear: much higher conversion rates and increased revenues. It’s time to finally tackle these obstacles that stand in the way and create better alignment between the sales and marketing teams.

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