Supporting integrated customer journeys with cross-functional planning

Integrating marketing and sales execution can be a challenging process and it’s important that your customers aren't negatively affected by your transformation journey. How can your organisation implement an effective go to market strategy to ensure the right planning processes are in place across each function and channel so there is cohesion across the buyer’s journey?

In our digital go-to-market roadmap, we have identified six key steps to achieving marketing and sales integration. We’ve previously looked at why lifting role and goal clarity is crucial to an organisation’s ability to deliver relevance and value to their customers and why building new marketing and sales capability is crucial for driving lead generation in a digital operating environment. Today we explore Step 3 - how cross-functional planning processes can help marketing and sales to integrate their activity around the customer.
Source: Blackdot’s Digital Go-To-Market Roadmap

Developing cross-functional planning processes

Buyer journeys now span multiple channels and functions, so it’s important to develop cross-functional planning processes to ensure customers are cohesively supported at each stage. Organisations need to shift from sales-led account planning and engagement to a more collaborative approach.

You’ll need to determine marketing’s and sales’ specific roles and activities at each stage of the buyer’s journey. By creating clear funnel progression rules and defining the most effective activities each party needs to carry out at each stage, marketing and sales can collaboratively facilitate the buying journey and minimise any potential ‘clunk points’.

Here are 3 practical steps to help you do this:

Step 1 - Ensure buyer-centric funnel stages

In many organisations, funnel stages are disconnected between sales and marketing, making it difficult to integrate plans and processes. Having an integrated funnel, or complementary funnels which tightly overlap, is an important step in enabling more connected and collaborative activity.

It is also important that new funnel stages reflect a subtle but critical shift in mindset - whilst legacy stages are commonly framed around ‘what we need to do to the customer’, new stages must reflect what your customers are doing at each stage and what interactions and content will meaningfully enable their buying journey.

Step 2 - Develop a cross-functional ‘collaboration model’

Marketing and sales often operate independently, with limited understanding of what is going on outside of their channel. With many organisations introducing more customer-facing channels, they risk having more activity occurring across more disconnected silos, exacerbating any gaps in the customer experience.

Build a ‘collaboration model’ by taking your new buyer-centric funnel stages and detailing exactly what marketing and sales will be responsible for across each stage. Outline accountabilities, key measures of success, handover points and interdependencies, as well as the supporting activities each function will carry out to assist each other.

This improved clarity and understanding will help marketing and sales better integrate their activity around customers.

Step 3 - Integrate key account planning

Account planning is typically siloed within sales, with a single account manager or team having ownership over ongoing development, execution and review.

With account-based marketing initiatives rapidly gaining traction, a more integrated approach is required to ensure key customers are engaged cohesively. Developing more integrated approaches to account planning and review will help marketing and sales have aligned goals for each account, ensuring complementary engagement activities.

Ideally, store account plans in the CRM or in a location where each account plan can be a living document and easily referred to by each function.

What’s next?

With more buyer activity across more channels, the ‘baton change’ between marketing and sales is a critical pinch-point that could hinder the success of integration. Our next post in our ‘Integrating Marketing & Sales Execution’ series will explore how to design lead handover and recycling processes.

Worded by Chris Horn