Most CMOs lack confidence in their sales and marketing model, study finds

The majority of sales and marketing organisations have failed to adapt fast enough as the digital landscape evolves, the report by the CMO Council finds.

PartnershipThe majority of CMOs do not feel confident their sales and marketing teams are set up to succeed when selling to customers within the digital ecosystem, according to a new study.

The research, carried out by the CMO Council with KPMG, examines the relationship between sales and marketing functions and considers how it should evolve to meet changing demands. It finds an ability to share customer insights – from sources including data science, AI and machine learning – between marketing and sales teams is becoming a defining trait of relationships between the two functions.

Key findings in the report illustrate what it calls a “frightening” lack of confidence among senior marketers.

It finds more than 70% of marketers do not feel very confident in their current sales and marketing model to sell effectively to customers on a digitised journey; 60% say marketing and sales departments don’t co-own customer strategy and data; and 61% say that fragmented technology across marketing, sales and service departments is holding back better alignment.

The study, which is based on interviews with more than 300 marketing leaders across numerous industries and countries, finds ownership of data is a major concern. Just 40% say they enjoy co-ownership, while a quarter say data is kept in different silos by marketing and sales. More than 40% of marketers say data control lying elsewhere in their organisation is a barrier to data access.

However, change is afoot. The study finds 53% of marketers plan to increase their focus on integrating data across customer journeys over the next year. The report recommends that control of data be relinquished to a cross-functional body that is charged with providing insights to all parts of a business.

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Marketing voice

The research questioned companies about areas where marketing has a voice in sales activities, and vice versa. In both cases, strategic decisions feature in the top five answers. Collaboration is most often seen in customer segmentation and targeting (63%), marketing strategy and planning (60%), building alliances and partnerships (54%), account-based marketing (53%) and lead management (50%).

The CMO Council concludes that to improve the conversion of leads requires marketers to hear what sales teams are encountering in their daily work, while sales teams need to understand they cannot control messages and need the flair of marketing.

“Sales and marketing will have to redefine their relationship to enable new customer-centric purchasing paths. This requires an entirely new way to collaborate across customer strategy and data, initiatives, technology, activities and metrics,” says CMO Council executive director Donovan Neale-May.

“To sell effectively to the new self-reliant digital buyer and enable the purchasing paths customers seek, marketing and sales teams need to have the same goals, speak the same language and hold each other accountable,” adds KPMG customer advisory lead and marketing consulting practice lead Jason Galloway.

“The keys to building a strong sales-marketing relationship include co-ownership of customer strategy and data, the agility and ability to hand off real-time data insights and employing the right technologies to share metrics and ensure consistent communication.”

Jamie Gilpin, CMO at social media management company Sprout Social, says having shared goals has helped her and the sales team develop closer alignment as both her and the chief revenue officer are held accountable for revenue. Gilpin has a “quota” for driving net new revenue to the business, with her marketers accountable for around 80% of new business revenue.

“We have these shared dashboards across every single point of our funnel. That’s another important piece, because when the misalignment has happened with past roles with my peers, it’s when sales is reporting on revenue and pipeline, and marketing is reporting on leads,” Gilpin explains.

“Then there’s not clarity on what leads generate in revenue and how are we holding ourselves accountable to that. The shared dashboards, KPIs and data, and then the meetings, the real time conversations to bring that data to life. Data is just data. Everyone can look at a dashboard, but it’s those conversations around it that become business critical.”