OPINION The worrying cost of sales and marketing misalignment (and how tech can help)

James Frampton

By James Frampton, Senior Vice President and General Manager EMEA, at SugarCRM

The post-pandemic business world is merciless. Having had to rethink operational strategy and seek support from digital products and services to stay afloat during the past two years, companies are facing another scenario –  the cost of the misalignment between sales and marketing teams.

New research from SugarCRM shows that the majority (58%) of sales and marketing professionals are not able to identify customers at the risk of leaving, with 74% suspecting customers are leaving due to poor customer service or experience.

These figures allude to yet another challenge for brands fighting an onslaught of forces including supply chain disruption, rising energy and fuel prices, inflation and staffing shortages.

The impact of this misalignment on customer churn now threatens the financial stability and growth of companies across all industries worldwide and firms need to act fast. Last year, SugarCRM’s global survey research reported that customer churn was costing mid-market companies an average of £4M per year. This year, 58% of global respondents reported their rate of customer churn has increased over the last 12 months.

To end this customer relationship crisis and avoid being left behind, organisations need to unite the efforts of their sales and marketing teams and deliver exceptional customer experiences


Breaking down the issue

The Sugar research reveals a key issue – 63% of sales and marketing leaders agree that marketing, sales, and service misalignment prevents their organisation from growing their business. The equation is simple, when sales and marketing teams work well together, the business prospers and vice versa.

Good organisational alignment is driven by several key factors, including seeing and utilising relevant data, establishing mutual goals and metrics, and creating a seamless handoff process to improve productivity and ensure ownership. However, the research found that 45% sales and marketing leaders experience poor communication between the teams and 44% find that incentivising the teams by different goals causes misalignment.

Without sales and marketing alignment, an information gap causes qualified leads to leak out the sales funnel, making the issue of customer flight even more pronounced. A whole quarter of sales leads generated by marketing is deemed poorly qualified and an additional 28% of leads is considered underqualified. As if this wasn’t problematic enough, on average, 27% of sales leads go to the wayside, receiving zero follow up.

Add the increasing customer churn and you are faced with a rather daunting scenario where companies are struggling to fill the top of the funnel with qualified leads while losing customers at the bottom of the funnel. By better scoring account opportunities, tracking conversion rates, and sharing customer preference insights, sales and marketing can synchronise their strategy for generating and acting on the most valuable leads.


Missing data

To enable sales and marketing teams to act decisively, organisations must ensure a constant and smooth flow of data that will form the basis of real-time actionable insights. While 71% of sales and marketing professionals claim they need to do more to improve the customer perception of their organisation, 59% admitted to missing data to improve marketing campaigns and sales conversions. Additionally, one in four sales respondents worldwide believe they could miss a quota due to incomplete data across the customer lifecycle.

Most modern marketing teams rely on marketing automation platforms (MAP), while sales teams handle customer relationship management (CRM). Often, this can lead to customer insights that are differentiated and critical information that is stored in separate systems. It’s no surprise then that 40% of sales and marketing professionals say using different technology platforms is causing misalignment between the two business functions. On the other hand, by combining their systems into a single integrated CX platform, everyone benefits from quick access, real-time insights, and 360-degree views.


Software that doesn’t meet the needs

However, these platforms must be selected and vetted with great care. The research shows that 58% of sales and marketing leaders think their CRM system is wasting time and money, while over half (56%) say their current CRM system cannot be customised properly to meet their specific needs.

A consolidated and intuitive CRM system also allows salespeople to focus more on revenue generation and less on busy work. Currently, salespeople spend on average 5 hours a week updating their CRM and it’s costing their company £1.4 million in lost sales opportunities. It’s no wonder then that 66% of sales and marketing leaders agree they are frustrated with the admin burden placed on their organisation’s sales team which is taking employees away from customer facing activities.

Clearly, implementing technology without a thorough understanding of the needs of both sales and marketing teams and the ways in which they work most effectively will not lead to the desired alignment of sales and marketing. But with the right solution that brings both teams together, removes complexity, makes life easier and provides a unified view of data, organisations can align their sales and marketing teams to deliver exceptional customer experiences and reverse the trend.


Image: Real People Group

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