3 Ideas for Better Cross-team Communication

March 12, 2019 | Kaleigh Moore


If you ask B2B organizations to list their biggest goals of 2019, chances are, improving sales and marketing alignment will be one of their top priorities. Sales and marketing alignment is essential for driving success in the modern business landscape. And what’s the cause for misalignment between the two departments? As a general rule, cross-team friction tends to start once there’s a breakdown in communication.

According to research conducted by Demand Gen Report, the majority of brands surveyed admitted that communication is the biggest barrier between sales and marketing teams. Without good communication, sales and marketing are unable to collaborate effectively.

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When sales pursues leads without context or relevant information, conversion rates drop, and the company loses money year after year—as much as a 10% loss in annual revenue for B2B companies. Just how critical is sales and marketing alignment? A report published by Marketo found that alignment:

  • Increases the value of content by nearly 210%
  • Reduces cross-department friction by 108%
  • Boosts the sales team’s ability to close deals by 67%

Marketo also found that alignment and cross-team communication plays an important role in team efficiency. And when sales and marketing aren’t working together, the sales department spends half of their time pursuing dead-end leads while ignoring as many as 80% of quality leads handed down from marketing. So how can we improve cross-team communication between the two departments? Glad you asked.

1. Have Teams Do On-Site Job Shadowing

Want to create an environment conducive to meaningful collaboration? Then you’ll need to make sure that everyone is on the same page from the get-go. One way you can do that is by cross-training sales and marketing by having members of each team shadow the other. This will allow sales and marketing to see how their counterparts solve problems and come up with action plans.

As a result, both teams are able to gain deeper insight into the other departments’ goals and objectives, as well as witness firsthand how to complete important tasks, like closing sales or launching new marketing plans. Other benefits of team shadowing include:

  • Building empathy: Sales and marketers witness the challenges that their counterparts face every day. This helps dispel stereotypes and misbeliefs, while encouraging both teams be more flexible and understanding when working with other departments.
  • Sharing knowledge: Team members get to observe how their counterparts brainstorm, problem-solve, and prioritize tasks. They also learn what success means for their counterparts, as well as how that version of success is similar and different from their department’s own vision.  

Having sales and marketing members shadow each other is important for gaining better insight into the company’s needs, as well. Sales and marketing professionals will see the value that both departments bring the company and how cross-team collaboration ensures the mutual success of both teams.

2. Host Weekly Meetings

Another way to ensure your sales and marketing teams are collaborating effectively is to host weekly (or even bi-weekly) meetings between the two departments. This is a perfect time for team members to come together and share ideas, express challenges, and brainstorm solutions together. The focus of your meeting should include work-related topics, like:

  • Projects being worked on: Have every person describe what they’re working on, the goals of their project, and what value the project brings to the company as a whole.
  • Solutions to bottlenecks: Cross-team meetings may be the only time you have everyone from sales and marketing working together in the same room. Make use of everyone’s experience and expertise by working together to come up with answers to challenges individual team members are facing. That way, you can look at a wider range of solutions that may not have been explored outside the meeting.
  • Collaboration opportunities: The more meetings you host between sales and marketing, the easier it becomes to facilitate cross-team communication and collaboration. One way you can strengthen the bond between sales and marketing is by looking at various ways marketing can help sales reach their goals and vice versa.

Of course, hosting productive meetings is often easier said than done.  First and foremost, ensure that there are no “territorial disputes” with regards to your meeting location. We recommend choosing a location that’s on “neutral ground” rather than hosting your meeting in either the sales or marketing department. That way, everyone feels comfortable and is more likely to participate.

Also, preparation is key. Every meeting needs to have a set agenda and all attendees should receive that agenda ahead of time so that they’re able to prepare for the meeting. Overall, weekly meetings are a great way to promote open communication and get sales and marketing teams to start thinking about how they can enrich each other, as well as how they can assist the entire company.

3. Establish Joint KPIs

In today’s professional landscape, adopting a data-driven approach is more important than ever. In order to meet the ever-changing demands of the modern consumer, brands are expected to monitor a wide range of key performance indicators (KPIs) designed to give them better insight into the effectiveness of their ongoing campaigns.

The downside to this data-driven approach is that it can also lead to silo behavior. Departments confine themselves to data that’s directly related to them and their goals, while ignoring metrics that help them gauge the company’s big-picture performance.

So, how do you facilitate cross-team collaboration while maintaining a data-driven approach to sales and marketing alignment? Through joint KPIs that both teams are accountable for. Effective joint KPIs include:

  • Revenue per account: Looks at how much money each account is bringing in. Great for assessing the value of leads being handed over from marketing to sales. When there’s good cross-team communication in place, marketing should be passing on higher quality leads.
  • Percentage of content used by sales: This KPI lets you measure how content is utilized throughout the duration of the buying journey, from the top of the funnel up until the customer finalizes their purchase. This metric is great for understanding how content converts, and how marketing can create quality content that assists sales in reaching their goals.
  • Lead funnel velocity: This metric helps you measure how fast leads are moving through your marketing-to-sales pipeline. Not only does this help you pinpoint where bottlenecks are forming and what factors are causing them, but it also shows sales and marketing teams what content and strategies do and don’t convert well.

Sounds like a lot of work, right? Not if you’ve got the right tools in place, like a lead-qualification platform that improves sales-marketing alignment and accelerates the sales cycle. Marketers need a way to uncover buyer intent more effectively, so that they understand the needs, expectations, and pain points of their prospective customers.

Cross-Team Communication: The Key to More Deals

The goal of cross-department communication is to have sales and marketing work together to optimize the customer journey from start to finish. This, in turn, prevents silos from developing as everyone has a vested interest in seeing sales and marketing meet their goals and expectations. The end result is a system that creates high-quality leads that empowers both teams, giving them a deeper understanding of how to meet the needs of the customer.

This added context boosts the quality of leads, giving sales teams a wealth of information they can use when connecting with prospective buyers. This leads to shorter sales cycles, while bringing both teams together to work towards a common goal.

For more tips on strengthening sales and marketing alignment in your organization, check out our newest ebook.


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