Karen Woodhead, Director of Marketing at Huthwaite International
“What’s dangerous is not to evolve,” the Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos once told us. And you certainly don’t create the largest internet-based retailer in the world without knowing how to evolve at the speed required in business today.
This digital transformation of business means the relationship between sales and marketing teams has been – and needs to be – totally transformed.
The power of digital to create a brand new landscape was underlined in Huthwaite’s recent YouGov survey, which revealed that 71% of senior B2B decision-makers believe digitisation is a major factor in the need for sales and marketing teams to work more closely.
That’s because digital has muddied the roles and responsibilities of both teams. It’s simply no longer the case that marketing builds the brand and harvests the leads, before the sales team closes the deal. Now, from tweets to online ads, or even simple conversations, both teams play a part throughout the customer journey.
This means that all communication across all channels needs to be relevant and consistent; and that can only happen when sales and marketing become true partners.
Unclear roles and responsibilities
Our research identified a number of barriers to this partnership. A lack of understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities emerged as a major issue. Unsurprising perhaps in the digital world where roles are becoming blurred and customer journeys more complex.
These days sellers and prospects communicate widely. The power of the traditional sales meeting can often be weakened by direct conversations across social channels, and it’s unclear whether sales or marketing should be responsible for this interaction.
Corporate social pages also blur the lines of responsibility between customer service and marketing. When responses to complaints or queries are made in public, the customer service team play a vital role in building the brand – or damaging it if not handled correctly.
Digital is also turning each brand interaction into a potential point of sale. Whether it’s ‘buy’ buttons on Facebook, or ‘shoppable’ video, both teams have a potential role to play across multiple interactions with customers.
The importance of consistency
Our research found that of those who acknowledge that digital is driving closer integration between sales and marketing, it is the increased number of customer touch points (45%) and the tendency for customers to educate themselves about a product or service prior to making a purchase (44%) that are the reasons behind it.
Both trends increase the likelihood of inconsistent messaging. The customer is seeking out content and messaging delivered by different teams across different channels as opposed to having it delivered to them in a planned and structured manner.
It’s not enough to simply define roles and responsibilities clearly – sales and marketing professionals must work together to ensure consistency.
There’s little doubt that the digital world has introduced a lack of clarity and coherence that has the potential to drive sales and marketing apart and damage profitability. The only way to address these challenges is through new levels of alignment between the two teams.
92% of senior business decision makers in our research said a close relationship between sales and marketing is important. The problem is, some 64% say both teams could be more aligned. This isn’t an insurmountable problem, however, and the good news is that by rising to the challenges of the digital age, sales and marketing teams can power their businesses to new levels of success not previously experienced.
Next week, we’ll reveal some key steps business can take to mend the relationship between the sales and marketing teams so that businesses can succeed in a transformed digital landscape.
For more insights and research into the changing sales and marketing relationship follow #gococreate on Twitter.