CMO Council: Breaking Down Silos Between Sales and Marketing is Key to Organizational Success

Collaboration is key to a successful retail enterprise, but companies may have some work ahead to leverage their talent to the fullest. According to a new report from CMO Council and KPMG, 70% of marketers don’t feel very confident in their current sales and marketing model to sell effectively in the digitalized customer journey. Fixing this problem will require continuing to break down silos, as 60% of respondents said marketing and sales don’t co-own customer strategy and data.

Breaking down silos between functions is by no means an easy task,” said Jason Galloway, Principal, Customer Advisory Leader and Marketing Consulting Lead at KPMG in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “It requires commitment, effort and accountability from both sides of the equation. Identifying key objectives to align on, metrics to share and cross-functional technologies is a stepping stone to removing barriers between sales and marketing. Once the foundation is in place, sales and marketing can then strategize on the steps that will be taken by each team to effectively co-own strategy, data and execution.”

The report laid out four sales-marketing alignment initiatives that can help CMOs and their fellow leaders better support a digitized customer journey, including:

  • Collaborating to achieve business objectives (e.g., revenue, customer acquisition, market share);
  • Collaborating on marketing and sales campaigns that drive lead gen;
  • Defining shared KPIs for marketing and sales; and
  • Aligning on customer personas.

Achieving Business Objectives

“Collaboration is all about knowing who you are working with,” Galloway noted. While it’s easy to say that your goal is to uncover the areas of business and strategy where both sales and marketing can become aligned, figuring out how to actually achieve this is the real challenge. Both sides need to communicate in ways the other can understand, and using the universal languages of metrics, strategic goals and KPIs were a few examples Galloway highlighted.


The key to increasing the collaboration between marketing and sales is to be very specific about annual growth objectives and then to align related marketing and sales investments and activities,” said Walt Becker, Principal, U.S. Sales Transformation Practice Leader at KPMG in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “For example, a focus on revenue growth may imply either existing account penetration, priority product sales or new logo acquisition. Once marketing and sales are aligned on the specific areas for revenue growth, marketing would align its investments in campaigns accordingly and sales would direct its sales coverage and incentives to match. Collaboration on the specific business objectives allows both functions to coordinate investments in demand generation and sales strategy.” 

Driving Lead Gen

Once both marketing and sales have aligned on specific objectives, it becomes easier to target marketing campaigns to support sales activities, according to Becker. He provided the example of a company with a business model based on recurring revenue services, which may see account penetration and renewals as a high-priority goal. In this case, marketing would work directly with sales to “design account-based campaigns to support  cross- and up-sell and renewal sales motions.”

“Once the overarching shared objectives have been defined between sales and marketing functions, they can focus on more specific strategies like lead generation,” said Galloway. “The typical lead gen funnel has changed — getting sales and marketing aligned and involved early, will ultimately lead to an increase in realized revenue.”

The report also goes into detail about how technology can be the difference in lead gen: “Getting your front-office in order and technologically enabled can allow for near real-time collaboration between marketing and sales,” added Galloway “That has become extremely critical with the speed in which buying patterns can shift.”

Defining KPIs

Both marketing and sales’ objectives need to be aligned in order to get proper measurement of a given campaign. Becker noted that marketing performance is commonly measured against a high-level growth goal such as revenue or product sales, while a sales team executing against the same objectives will look at more specific metrics like new customer acquisition, strategic product sales to specific customer segments and growth of key accounts. He suggested that marketing should have metrics aligned to those key examples, such as the number of sales-accepted leads for new clients, customer segment specific product sales and key account revenue.

“This is a great example of our earlier points on speaking the same language,” said Galloway. “Too many times, sales and marketing are focused on very similar strategies or initiatives, but they’re using different metrics to measure them. This limits collaboration and harms growth potential. It is critical to learn how to translate your data into a metric that all your counterparts can understand. When the functions see the true meaning of the numbers, getting buy-in on strategy and initiatives will be much easier.”

Aligning on Personas

The economic pressures of the past several years have changed what the typical customer journey looks like, and Galloway expects this to continue shifting at an increased pace. This makes it important for both sales and marketing teams to contribute their understanding of these shifts to the business as a whole, which will enable better targeting and more effective campaigns and lead generation.

“Regardless of growth objectives, marketing and sales must be executing against the same customer segmentation schema,” said Becker. “Within each of the specific customer segments, both functions should share the same definition of customer personas in order to effectively design both marketing campaigns and sales processes that align with an overall desired customer experience.” 

Adding in IT

Marketers and sales team members shouldn’t forget that they’re collaborating with the rest of the company as they develop deeper ties. The report also found that 61% of marketers said fragmented technology across marketing, sales and service restricts sales-marketing alignment. This makes the IT department an important ally during the alignment process and beyond.

“In order to avoid the dreaded martech ‘Frankenstack,’ the CMO and CIO need to get on the same page,” said Tom Kaneshige, Chief Content Officer at CMO Council in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “A highly effective marketing-IT relationship has proven to be critical in the development of high-performing martech operations. However, it will take more than putting on a false front and singing kumbaya. What’s needed is a revamping of partnership roles, responsibilities, decision-making structures and metrics.”

A strong partnership also can help retailers futureproof their company. CMO Council’s research found that less than 12% of enterprise leaders are seen as highly strategic and adept at evaluating and implementing new technologies for competitive gain and growth, while 44% are seen as only moderately strategic. Bringing in the expertise of the CIO and other experienced stakeholders can ensure leaders across the company are making informed technological decisions.

“Understanding how to evaluate, select and implement new technology is a careful balance of customer centricity and value realization,” said Galloway. “Leaders need to be strategic about the technology investments they’re making and the return those investments yield, especially in times of uncertainty, when freeing up technology investment is more difficult. Collaborating across functions is key to making informed technology decisions that support business objectives — leaders should involve the right stakeholders from sales and marketing, but also from IT and procurement, bringing together valuable expertise from various functions.”

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