Alignment needs a tune-up: New business research finds that 4 of every 5 commercial activities is done with no marketing/sales collaboration

by | Jun 10, 2024 | Public Relations

If you were a working professional in the 90s, you likely remember how rare it was for any cross-functional collaboration, because communication was essentially primitive before the internet came along. How we got it all done I don’t recall, but unless you were in the C-suite, you worked with your team on its specific goals, and whatever else needed to happen was usually not on your radar. These days, with every colleague at your fingertips, it’s obviously more efficient and productive to work across the whole company holistically, with everyone sharing the same outcome goal. In fact, to not do so can be said to be a form of business dysfunction. Unfortunately, that dysfunction is still more the norm than the exception—particularly between marketing and sales.

New research from Gartner affirms this with data revealing that only three out of 15 commercial activities include any collaboration at all between marketing and sales teams. The firm’s inaugural Gartner B2B Commercial Strategy survey reveals that in addition to 80 percent of key activities missing contributions from marketing or sales, 90 percent of marketing and sales executives surveyed say their functional priorities conflict with one another.

marketing alignment

“It is clear that marketing and sales leaders’ partnership and coordination efforts are in shambles,” said Kristina LaRocca-Cerrone, Senior Director, Advisory in the Gartner Marketing Practice, in a news release. “Dysfunction is rampant, and they face decision-making bottlenecks and numerous roadblocks that lead to collaboration drag and hindered growth.”

“Improving the strategic and meaningful collaboration between marketing and sales is vital to generating stronger commercial results. The greatest opportunity for driving profitable growth and customer acquisition occurs when the two functions partner and focus on understanding buyer journeys, digital commerce management and sales enablement. In fact, the likelihood for commercial success is doubled when teams come together and adopt that approach.”

When marketing and sales have shared buyer journey insights, organizations are 2.3x more likely to see higher sales conversion rates

Commercial teams who share buyer journey insights with one another are 1.6x more likely to exceed revenue growth expectations. Yet the majority of survey respondents (60 percent) indicate a lack of shared buyer journey insights. Only 17 percent of the functional leaders surveyed collaborate on buyer journey mapping, preventing them from developing a more holistic and accurate picture of how customers research and make decisions.

“Shared insights are more robust, fueling strong demand generation messaging and more compelling interactions,” said LaRocca-Cerrone. “For example, where marketing captures the full customer journey across channels, sales has access to common customer pain points and journey triggers.”

marketing alignment

Organizations that offer both rep-led and self-service interactions are 3.9x more likely to exceed profit growth expectations

By looking for opportunities to blend rep-led and digital experiences to support omnichannel buyer journeys, organizations can enable B2B buyers to better understand how to accomplish their goals and drive outsized commercial results. Digitally-enhanced interactions between sellers and customers boost the likelihood of strong revenue growth by 1.9x compared to solely digital engagement.

“A hybrid journey design that optimizes both digital and human channels signals the future of B2B buying,” said LaRocca-Cerrone.

Successful sales enablement offers buyers support across all stages of the buying journey

Leading organizations tap into buyer journey mapping to reveal customer needs and buyer dynamics, in turn arming sellers to help buyers navigate today’s complex, omnichannel environment. Marketing and sales can work together to gather sales team input early in sales enablement development to ensure the resulting content and tools are aligned to seller workflows. It is this synergy that encourages seller skills that complement buyers’ digital learning.

marketing alignment

“True cross-functional alignment between marketing and sales can be sparked through an intentional and focused partnership. Strategic collaboration occurs when the teams come together, avoiding disjointed efforts that impede growth,” concluded LaRocca-Cerrone.

Download Gartner’s ebook here.

412 senior marketing and sales leaders across North America and Western Europe participated in the survey during November and December 2023. 

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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