Are Sales and Marketing Getting Less Aligned?

The increasing alignment of sales and marketing, drinking from the same deep well of data, has become a familiar mantra in recent month. But a new report from sales performance management vendor CallidusCloud suggests a worsening situation when it comes to breaking down silos.

Stunningly, the 2016 Sales and Marketing Sentiment Study shows poorer performance against three key markers for sales/marketing cooperation:

  • Mutual respect between the functions has declined
  • Use of common data is becoming more rare
  • Use of common technology has declined

Adoption of technology by both functions has also remained flat. The results were based on a sample of over 200 respondents, both from CallidusCloud’s marketing lists (including customers and non-customers) and social media. Respondents were divided almost equally (within a percentage point) between sales and marketing functions, and represented a mix of small, medium and enterprise organizations primarily based in North America.

Both sales and marketing respondents were heavily inclined to think that few of their processes had been successfully automated—a decline on the previous year. “The state of automation,” says the report, “is getting worse, not better.” While both sales and marketing respondents tended to think their teams were at least somewhat aligned, and that at least some data is shared, only about a quarter of sales respondents and a third of marketing respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the other team’s performance.

At the granular level of the sales and marketing stacks, around 40 percent of all respondents said the teams were using different applications. Around a third did say that a common suite of tools were being used: the remainder—still a substantial percentage—said that one or both teams were operating manually or through spreadsheets. Over a third of sales respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with their current solutions; only around a quarter of marketing respondents were equally happy.

Particularly revealing were concerns about a data-driven strategy. The major concerns for both teams were about making the data actionable and having the right skill sets to use the data effectively. They also thought other parts of the company failed to understand the importance of the data. Of less concern was data quality.

The report concludes that: “While sales and marketing alignment is still a stated goal for many organizations, the responses in this year’s study suggest that not only is alignment proving to be more than an elusive goal – it’s actually a deepening problem.” The technology is mostly there, while data is there in staggering quantities. Breaking down cultural and practical obstacles to use is proving hard.

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