Unifying Sales and Marketing Still a Challenge for Most Companies

Unifying Sales and Marketing Still a Challenge for Most Companies

Some 55% of sales and marketing professionals surveyed say their companies have not implemented, or are just in the planning stage to implement, formal efforts to integrate or align the sales and marketing functions, according to a global study by the CMO Council.

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Among the 40% who have made the attempt, some 47% report success in synchronizing and optimizing these often-polarized functions, according to the CMO Council’s Coalition to Leverage and Optimize Sales Effectiveness (CLOSE), an online community sponsored by Oracle and the Wall Street Journal.

Less than 20% of respondents say their sales and marketing organizations are extremely collaborative; most felt the two groups had intermittent relations and interactions.

“What is startling about the results of this study is not that there is a divide, but rather that important resources and investments, like CRM, data analysis, segmentation and cross-departmental data visibility, are viewed as marginally valuable and relatively underutilized,” CMO Council Executive Director Donovan Neale-May told MarketingCharts.

Neither marketing nor sales is effectively leveraging customer data and insight to form deeper, more connected relationships with the customer:

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  • Barely 12% of sales and marketing professionals say they have a well-integrated, real-time view of all customer interactions, while only 37% report good visibility into prospects, pipeline, deal flow and conversion rates.
  • By comparison, 20% indicate that marketing hands off leads to sales, yet marketing has no insight into conversion and close outcomes; 13% say most leads are never captured, qualified or acted upon; and about 11% report they have no on-premise or on-demand CRM system in place.
  • Among those who have CRM applications, only 13% view the application as highly valued and widely deployed, while 42% see growing acceptance and adoption.
  • While CRM systems tend to be mandated and adopted across the sales organization, they tend to be more selectively embraced by marketing teams in business units and departments.
  • Data analytics, reporting and forecasting tend to be the biggest deficiencies in optimizing the functionality and usability of current CRM solutions. The top three areas highlighted by nearly 50% of respondents were the ability to easily create analytic reports, customization of the application and forecasting capabilities. Real-time and historic analytics placed a close fourth (40%) adding to the call for more analytics and user friendly tools.
  • While 50% of those surveyed said they had pretty good or extensive visibility in to customer accounts and business activity, the other 50% said they had trouble finding customer account data, did not have enough information, or none at all.

Among other key findings of the study:

  • Most respondents consider their companies to be sales-driven and, to a lesser degree, product-centered or customer relationship-based. Just over 10% viewed themselves as channel dependent, and only 27% believed they were marketing-minded.
  • Respondents agree that the top three measures of sales performance and productivity are lead quality and ROI, conversion and close rates, and level of action on opportunities – all of which would benefit by a deeper alignment and integration between sales and marketing.
  • When marketers were asked how they viewed sales, 40% said they had some top producers but there was mostly a need for improvement.
  • Sales professionals tend to have a tactical view of marketing, with only 10% seeing marketers as market-savvy and on-target with demand-generating campaigns. Some 41% say marketing provide good/right content and sales-support materials.

About the study: Respondents to the survey were drawn from all industry sectors with over 43% in companies with annual sales of $100 million or more. The average sales cycle is 2 to 6 months (36%) with 14% of respondents claiming a sales cycle of 1 to 2+ years. Nearly 70% were drawn from B2B companies. Virtually all companies operated in North America, over 50% in Europe, 47% in Asia, 30% in Latin America, 26% in the Middle East and nearly 20% in Africa. Over 35% of responding companies had more than 1,000 employees and 65% had less than 1,000 employees.