In most companies, the marketing and sales departments don’t work together, with the necessary harmony and cooperation. The metrics and benchmarks used to assess their performances are not suitable for creating a common vision.
It is as if the departments work separately from each other, as if they were not part of the same team.
The consequences inevitably have a negative impact on revenues and can cause them to deviate from the company’s business objectives.
What are the main problems which exist between sales and marketing?
According to the research “Ending the War Between Sales and Marketing,”, carried out by Harvard Business Review, the reasons for the friction are largely a result of seven factors:
- Little or inefficient communication – if the sales and marketing departments conduct separate strategies, the entire organisation is jeopardised. The most important challenge is to create and maintain adequate cross-functional coordination in order to promote communication. Moreover, good communication can avoid problems such as reduced productivity, misunderstandings and lack of trust between departments;
- Competition for departmental funding – both the marketing and sales departments would like the largest share of the available budget, so that they can allocate it in order to meet their own objectives. Since funds are always limited, it is difficult to satisfy both, especially if they are going in opposite directions. The consequences are discontent, jealousy and resentment;
- Unclear roles – relations between departments can be further weakened by the presence of deep-rooted stereotypes relating to colleagues of other departments. For example, marketing teams tend to attribute the sales department with a short-sighted view of the company objectives. On the other hand, the sales department often underestimates the value of marketing campaigns;
- A clash of personalities and cultures – the two departments are made up of very different people. Marketing personnel are usually methodical, analytical and focused on achieving strategic results. Sales personnel usually consist of people who know how to build excellent interpersonal relationships and love direct contact with customers. Such radical differences in people’s personalities and priorities can often lead to significant misunderstandings;
- Unclear or overlapping goals – both departments’ goal is corporate growth, but they try to achieve it through different means. The marketing department, which is usually driven by long-term objectives, aims to build an ever-increasing channel of qualified leads. Instead, the sales team, which is usually focused on short-term goals, aims to do business and generate immediate revenue. In short, the objectives and the deadlines of the two departments are clearly different;
- Mutual accusations – when negative events occur, such as a decrease in sales, each tends to blame the other. This happens because they don’t know each other and rarely interact directly, and they ignore each other’s contribution to the combination of weak knowledge and uncertainty favours the search for a scapegoat in the other department;
- Different or non-aligned strategies – this is as damaging as the first one on this list. Non-aligned strategies can lead to redundant efforts by repeating the same work twice. Therefore, there will be gaps in the organisation and procedural inefficiencies, along with missed opportunities and other negative consequences.
In their research Marketing and Sales alignment – Playing on the same team to generate leads and drive revenue, Marketo and Reachforce show the damage done through a misalignment between the Marketing and Sales departments within companies, especially in the B2B sector.
A traditional sales model – consisting of transforming a lead/contact into a prospect – is often inefficient and leads to a waste of resources, both in marketing and sales.
In figures, 50% of sales time is spent on unproductive prospect research, while 80% of leads generated by marketing are ignored.
It is unbelievable, isn’t it? It’s like making the same effort twice, and focusing in the wrong direction.
According to the researchers’ estimate, an unproductive sales cycle costs companies at least $1 billion a year, both in terms of money wasted in the marketing budget and time spent on unsuccessful sales.
The problem is that this type of sale ignores the life cycle of the customer, i.e. all the interactions occurring before, during and after the sale. The risk lies in just considering the single moment at which the contract is signed or the purchase of a product or service takes place, without taking into account the complex context which exits beyond that moment.
Gamification: creating value in the market of the future
Our daily lives, both at work and at home, have become increasingly dependent on screens: smartphones, tablets, laptops. As a matter of fact, we are constantly connected.
According to Forbes, companies are adapting – or should adapt – to this hyper-connected reality: web codes and mobile applications allow them to understand the behaviour of their customers, and of potential customers, on an individual level.
The acquisition of these devices is useful to the company in order to optimise the collected data.
So what role can gamification play?
Gamification is not just about video games and rewards: it is something much broader. Therefore, its application in such a context can make a difference in many ways.
As Kai Huotari and Juho Hamari have pointed out, gamification designs products, services and organisational practices as if they were games: the goal is to make people have fun and generate high levels of attention and involvement.
As a result, companies can create value and influence people’s behaviour.
The correct application of gamification in the corporate environment uses a holistic approach to business motivation, in order to create and foster value.
As reported in the Journal of Business Research, gamification is based on both cognitive and behavioural psychology. In fact, it is an effective tool for increasing motivation and user involvement in specific activities.
Although the trend is changing thanks to the accumulating evidence of positive returns, the application of gamification is still seen in an unfavourable light by many companies.
The cause is often a lack of information: companies do not do research on this subject and they end up by not having sufficient data to make a careful evaluation.
According to Forbes magazine, the ability to create analysis models that can explain human behaviour is the basis for effective use of gamification within the company.
In short, everything depends on the ability to understand how the human brain works and why we change our behaviour, whether consciously so or otherwise.
Companies should carefully evaluate a priori the use of gamification to achieve their goals, before dismissing it, since it is a way to harmonise support technologies such as AI – artificial intelligence, big data, boot and coding. It is a service for the company, and it benefits both employees and customers.
The combination of different tools allows us to improve our understanding of consumers: for example, by using AI at the front-end and a consistent database at the back-end we can generate individuals’ motivation.
Thus the level of customisation will peak, both with regard to purchasing habits and with regard to lifestyle, preferences and habits in private life.
It is a way of improving the performance of corporate sales; it makes a complete analysis of the consumer and the individual.
“If you control the code, you control the world.”
Marc Goodman – author of the book “Future Crimes: Everything is Connected” and
senior Interpol consultant
According to Forbes, the intersection of AI, gamification, big data and incentive programs opens up a world of new possibilities for companies.
Through their use they will be able to create one-to-one communications with customers, and generate various opportunities based on machine learning – continuous learning – of Artificial Intelligence (A. I.), whose accuracy is much higher than that of human beings.
The result will be greater use in motivational business contexts, both among employees and consumers, and profit will increase. The company’s performance will also be better.
This may occur by learning from the activities carried out and the results of audience research over time.
How will gamification improve communication between the Sales and Marketing departments in the company?
According to a study carried out by Incredo, Communication Is the Greatest Challenge For Sales And Marketing Alignment; about 50% of employees working in both sales and marketing departments find communication the greatest difficulty in bridging the gap between the two divisions of the same company.
The fact that both departments agree on this matter is definitely a good starting point for our analysis.
In the graph, we can see the fragmented processes (42%) and the evaluation of results carried out according to different metrics for the two departments (40%).
What is the possible solution to these internal problems that affect many companies?
Generally, the initial phase of the sale is believed to be the most critical one. This is the moment when you have to nurture the prospects and ensure that the company is differentiated from the competition in the eyes of consumers. This phase where you get the first contacts is very delicate.
In this framework, digitised content and gamification levers can interact in the most effective way with the user. And they can make a real difference.
Ion Interactive‘s research concluded that interactive content, compared to static content, is:
- 95% more effective in educating customers (or future customers)
- 88% more effective in differentiating the brand from its competitors
By using gamification applications, the company will experience achievements and positive data trends in ROI values, sales numbers and KPI.
These values can refer to the company itself, to a particular team or branch, and will involve both the Sales and Marketing department. Different departments within the company will be involved, so that there will be healthy competition, clarity and transparency.
It is possible to decide which values to use, and which ones to select as the most important KPIs for both departments.
Thanks to a mobile application this process will be simple and convenient: a useful tool for achieving objectives which are significant for both the sales and marketing sectors.
In short, both departments will pursue a common goal.
This means that the customer has to be ready to receive it and the timing has to be perfect.
“The content fails when it reaches an audience that is too wide. This is the reason why static, impersonal content, made to please the masses,
could prove to be a failure not only for consumers but also for sales.”
Mark Yeagers – Senior Advisor to CI Capital Partners LLC (American private equity firm)
How can aligned marketing and sales departments benefit the company’s revenue (among other key factors)?
In 2013, SalesFusion – the leading platform in marketing automation for SMEs – conducted a survey of 550 respondents working in B2B and B2C companies, entitled “The Sales & Marketing Alignment,” which considered a variety of benchmarks and generated interesting insights.
In the research, employees and managers from different types of businesses were asked to score the most important and urgent challenges facing their company.
In the first question the interviewees were asked: “Does the alignment between the objectives of the sales department and the marketing department have an impact on the revenues obtained?”.
The answers were as follows:
- 66% of revenue goal is achieved if sales and marketing are fully aligned.
- the percentage drops to 65% if they are only strongly aligned.
- it falls to 61% in a situation where only a minimum alignment is achieved,
- it collapses to 41% in cases where no alignment has not been achieved.
The analysis continued by focusing on the relationship between the percentage of revenue achieved and the integration of key sales and marketing systems.
The graph shows the percentage of target revenue achieved against the level of cooperation between marketing and sales departments:
- 80% is achieved with a high level of integration,
- 68% is achieved with a moderate level of integration,
- 56% is achieved with a minimum level of integration,
- 44% is achieved with an ineffective level of integration,
- 36% is achieved if there is zero integration.
The results are clear: the benefits of a correctly and highly integrated system have a significant impact on the achievement of the company’s revenue targets. The potential advantage for the company over its competitors is evident.
Another important aspect is the role played by technology in aligning the business functions of the marketing and sales sectors. The focus is on the presence and impact of both types of technological systems: marketing systems – such as marketing automation solutions – and sales systems – such as CRM.
According to the results of the survey, 70% of companies use technological tools for the sales sector, such as CRM systems, while only 42% use technology for the automation of marketing systems.
Finally, results show that the answers relating to the quality of leads were quite surprising.
It is thought that better quality leads produce a higher level of revenue, so it is worthwhile investing in systems that will obtain leads of a higher quality.
In practice, however, the situation is different: there is a point at which output decreases when the quality of leads is related to the achievement of revenues.
Once the percentage of qualified leads exceeds 10%, investment to increase the percentage of qualified leads, usually carried out by the sales team, is not justified.
Above the 10% threshold, the quality of leads is no longer taken into account. This is probably due to the fact that respondents believe that sales will be successful when qualified leads account for more than 10% of the total leads generated.
The Top Challenges report, carried out by the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP), showed that creating leads for a company is the main challenge, for both sales and marketing.
Leads and funnels: new approaches to sales and marketing
What are leads?
A lead is generated when a company gets users’ information that is useful for establishing an initial business contact.
In fact, the generated lead is usually used at a later date to create a real sales opportunity.
What about the funnel? It is the path undertaken by the potential customer, from the moment they enter the sales “funnel” to the point of becoming a customer, and then a supporter, testimonial and brand ambassador.
The customer goes through the phases of attraction, interest, consideration, decision, evaluation and purchase.
Source: Medium – How data changed the marketing and sales funnel
The graph created by Medium shows that nowadays marketing has a bigger role than sales: the sales team is responsible for managing the leads when a decision has been made in an active way, where the action has already been implemented.
The revolution aims to make the leads more aware, so that they know are aware of what they are buying before making the purchase. If the funnel has a proper structure, the consumer will no longer buy just because of the pressure exerted by the sales department. Instead, they will be made aware and informed about the choice they are making while buying the product or service.
This will be possible thanks to the content produced by the companies: sales will be both more efficient and more effective. More information means more awareness, less indecision and less complaints.
The introduction of automated tools managed through gamification applications is able to accelerate the marketing and sales processes, thus producing an excellent result for everyone.
If you are interested in getting more detailed information on how gamification can improve a company’s performance, here is our contact details to book a free call with our experts.