August 23, 2016
Updated: December 19, 2020

Cross-Team Collaboration Has a Huge Impact on Sales Results

Organizations already know that cross-functional collaboration drives customer satisfaction, employee engagement, productivity gains, speed of innovation, and the list of rewards goes on. However, as revealed by CSO Insight’s 2016, Sales Enablement Optimization Study, the connection between cross-functional collaboration and sales enablement appears to be fraying in most organizations — and outright severed in others.

Too Small to Succeed

The disconnect is evident in team size. More than 69% of study participants are part of sales enablement teams made up of three or fewer people, and half of these functions are basically a one-person show. As noted by CIO Insights: “Expecting a few resources to accomplish a wide range of challenging objectives is unrealistic.” We agree.

Cross-Dysfunctional Collaboration

In many organizations, small team composition isn’t a matter of design or choice, it’s simply the way things are. Resource shortages, shifting priorities, limited budgets – these are all things that can box people into subpar strategies. It turns out that most organizations don’t have much collaboration between teams.

  • 9.6% of study participants reported that there is no cross-functional collaboration in their organization
  • 27.1% of study participants reported that cross-functional collaboration only takes place on an ad hoc basis
  • 42.7% of study participants say that the cross-functional collaboration process their organization is informal
  • That leaves just 20.6% of study participants who lay claim to having a formal, defined cross-functional collaboration process.

From “Major Overhaul” to “Needs Improvement”

What’s more, respondents who report some degree of cross-functional collaboration between sales enablement and other departments aren’t happy with the teamwork. Half of the participants said that sales enablement collaboration with product management, IT, HR and marketing was in need of a major overhaul.

Collaboration with training, event management and sales management didn’t rank much higher, with less than half of study participants saying that the relationship meets expectations. And while collaboration with customer support, legal, executive management and sales ops was relatively more effective, between 30-40% of respondents said interaction with these departments also needed improvement.

Finally, Some Good News

There is some good news that should inspire executives who need their sales organizations to turn the corner. The study also found a correlation between effective cross-functional collaboration and sales enablement success.

When reflecting on the effectiveness of sales initiatives implemented over the past 24 months:

  • Participants that reported having no or ad hoc cross-functional collaboration achieved 36% of their sales enablement initiatives
  • Participants that reported having informal cross-functional collaboration achieved 42% of their stated enablement initiatives
  • Participants that reported having formal cross-functional collaboration achieved 59% of initiatives

Notably, and importantly for organizations that cannot boost the size of their sales enablement teams, the correlation is not based on team size. It’s based solely on the level and quality of cross-functional collaboration. The simple and budget-friendly implication is that a sales enablement team of just a few people (or perhaps just one person) can use collaboration to achieve just as good, or far better results than a larger team forced to work in a silo.

Movin’ on Up: Sales Process Mapping

Given that effective and formal cross-functional collaboration is critical for successful sales enablement, the big question that all organizations must ask is: what can we do to enhance our process and approach, and ultimately improve our sales and profits?

Naturally, there is no template or one-size-fits-all answer to this question, because each organization has specific variables and unique factors. However, a simple yet effective place to start is by reading our guide, “How to Build a Sales Enablement Strategy: First Steps”

Does any of this ring true to you? Add your own collaboration aches and pains – or successful strategies – in the comments section below.