How to Overcome Misalignment During a Digital Sales Transformation

Achieving organizational alignment is challenging. Here’s an action plan to help businesses stay aligned throughout a digital sales transformation initiative.

In a perfect world, organizational alignment would exist between Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success teams, and they would operate in solidarity as a unified powerhouse for collective success. Each team’s activities would harmoniously blend to form a cohesive unit that is greater than the sum of its parts. But in reality, this is often far from the case. Siloed teams are a common corporate pain point, and this organizational misalignment leads to dissonant outputs that can inhibit sales and damage customer experience. 

When departments are out of sync, this directly impacts the bottom line. Organizational misalignment between sales and marketing technologies/processes costs B2B organizations at least 10% of their annual revenue. Overcoming misalignment is imperative, but it can be challenging—and this is especially true when your company is undergoing a digital transformation.

In today’s B2B sales landscape, digital transformation has progressed from a nice-to-have to a must-have. But as companies adopt new technologies and processes, misalignment between teams can present a significant hurdle. To navigate this challenge, we’ve created the following action plan to help teams stay aligned throughout your digital transformation initiative.

Developing a Path Toward Clear Communication

Successful digital transformation requires a significant commitment to organizational alignment. Clear communication is vital at every step of the process. Before any change takes place, it is essential to gain buy-in and effectively communicate the changes taking place. Where this seems to be a struggle always is within the alignment of marketing, sales, and customer success. These are the three departments that have the most significant impact on customer experience and also where goals should be aligned and transparent, but rarely are.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

George Bernard Shaw

It can feel like a big game of finger-pointing between Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams. Marketers generate qualified leads but tend to think Sales never manages marketing leads correctly. Sales tend to think marketing leads are poor quality, so they decide to only self-prospect without validating or sharing feedback. Alternatively, Sales has a prospect that closes in less than 30 days, but if the customer becomes dissatisfied, they blame Customer Success.

organizational alignment

The finger-pointing becomes an issue when departments are misaligned, or miscommunication arises. This results in fractured customer experiences and disconnected processes. The handoff of information between teams tends to be where these issues occur and cause miscommunication. A critical question to answer will be, “How do you improve communication between different roles?”

The new reality is that marketing needs to know more about sales, sales needs to know more about marketing, and we all need to know more about our customers.

Jill Rowley, Founder, and Chief Evangelist, #SocialSelling

Three Guiding Principles To Help Overcome Objections

Organizational alignment and continued focus are never easy. Trying to agree upon a central point of truth, shared dashboards and reports, or a single technology solution to use across departments can cause frustration and sometimes a complete stalemate. 

Many of these challenges can be avoided if you first establish your guiding principles for transformation. At the start, try using these three principles (or modify them to fit your organization better) to refocus discussions and help drive alignment when the going gets tough.

1) Integrated Marketing, Sales, and Support

We believe in a seamless integration of the revenue team across marketing, sales, and customer support activities and opportunities. The opportunity cost of not connecting the customer experience is too great not to solve for today. This objective is critical to our organizational success and continued growth, and will be a mentality we foster across all teams.

2) Data-Driven Strategy

We will make decisions based on data and will work with the best information we currently have available while continually identifying gaps for future iteration and improvement. Relevant and actionable data from a single point of truth (our CRM) will drive revenue decisions and strategy. Buyer characteristics and smart engagement analytics will power an intelligent B2B customer buying journey.

3) Intelligent Sales Engagement

We will focus on the metrics that guide intelligent sales engagement and quantifiable outcomes rather than purely activity. To better understand what works, we will focus on capturing both quantitative and qualitative data points to help drive decisions.

Tomorrow’s leaders need a system that is intelligent enough to look across all existing data and recommend the next steps. To do this, your organization needs high-quality data that captures both quantitative (activity-based) and qualitative (context-based) data points. From that foundation, prescriptive selling and AI can then be added to drive a dynamic, digital, and automated customer-centric B2B sales experience.

Aligned Teams Create Growth

game of fingerpointing in revenue teams
Tasking these customer-facing departments with the same metrics for success forces them to build a shared vision and align on goals.

As a buyer, our best buying experiences are those that are cohesive from end to end. They are curated to meet our individual needs and are supportive of our goals and objectives. Many organizations oversimplify the work and commitment it takes to create a cohesive buying experience.

Marketing, sales, and customer success are all roles that impact revenue and play a crucial part in this experience. Many organizations are now interconnecting these three departments and working to define a shared set of KPIs and objectives through the use of Revenue Operations. Some organizations are even developing a Chief Revenue Officer role within the executive team to help guide this organizational alignment. Tasking these customer-facing departments with the same metrics for success forces them to build a shared vision and align on goals.

Alignment between revenue teams is critical to avoid miscommunication, increase alignment, and help Sales gain greater visibility and understanding into marketing and customer success processes and vice versa. You can create better interdepartmental visibility by understanding each team’s challenges.

Sirius Decisions found that B2B organizations with aligned revenue teams achieved 24% faster growth and 27% more rapid profit growth over three years.

Essentially, digital sales transformation is about each team learning to work collaboratively with other departments to improve the customer experience and increase revenue faster. Sales leaders should focus on developing a streamlined process that makes communication transparent and easier between departments to help Sales embrace the digital paradigm. Sales leaders can start by getting buy-in from each department leader so that the entire organization can fully support sales reps at any point in the customer journey.

Alignment is Only One Piece of the Puzzle

We’ve now covered the importance of alignment and laid out a framework to maintain departmental cohesion during a digital sales transformation. But, while vital, alignment is only one piece of a larger overall picture. A complete digital transformation involves numerous other considerations, including effective data management, a clear understanding of the buyer’s journey, and a refined set of tools/processes.

To further aid in your digital transformation journey, we’ve outlined the 6 Steps to a Successful Digital Sales Transformation. In this article, we’ll review the other key aspects of a digital sales transformation, such as leveraging your data, defining your revenue process, improving your sales engagement, motivating your reps, and more. For a comprehensive resource to guide you through the entire digital sales transformation process, download our eBook: Digital Sales Transformation: The Shift to Intelligent Selling.

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