I recently joined a webinar with Twitter and Sprinklr where we discussed optimal customer care and collaboration, particularly in B2B. We discussed the fact that every functional area in a B2B company has insights the other functional areas need. Desperately. And yet, we are not great at sharing. What does that cost our organizations?
In my book coming out Q4 this year, Moats and Drawbridges, The Current State of B2B Cross-Functional Insight Sharing, I’ll lay out my case for how we got to this point and a better path forward.
Earlier this summer, I asked product and marketing leaders in Europe and the US to share their perspective on how well product, marketing, sales, and success shared insights with the other teams. Here’s a summary of the study.
Study Question: What kind of insight sharing is happening between functional areas (product, marketing, sales, success)?
Interviews: 18 companies encompassing
Fortune 100 (4)
Fortune 500 (5)
Fortune 1000 (3)
Europe and/or Global: 16
Exclusively North America: 2
“Where are we supposed to share, Maureen? Teams, Slack, Confluence, Chatter, attach to WebEx, Zoom?”
Spoiler: With very few exceptions, there isn’t regular insight mining, sharing, or collaboration between functional areas. The human skill/behavior isn’t there, nor tools to support.
First, the outliers:
One Fortune 100 I spoke to has a culture of data sharing and collaborating as a part of every meeting, shared beforehand. The data is discussed, collaborated on, and compared to other data brought from outside the team or functional area.
They do not have a universal system for structuring or universal tools for sharing. It sounds like each team has a repository, and the repository is transparent and open to anyone who wants to access it.
For another Fortune 100, I interviewed leaders of three different divisions. One of the divisions does an exceptional job sharing and collaborating on insights across all four functional areas. The interviewee shared that that was the result of four years of hard work to get to where they are today. It’s clear that this initiative has delivered material ROI back to the business in terms of Product Development, customer experience, and agile refinement of both marketing and sales plays.
I spoke to leaders in two other divisions of this company where little to no insight sharing is happening between functional areas.
One of the Fortune 500 companies has excellent data and insight sharing on their GTM team (marketing and sales) but none at all with their product and engineering teams.
Now, on to the recurring themes:
No tools to structure the unstructured
No tools to share and collaborate effectively
Remarkable lack of clarity of what other teams are doing, their goals, how/if/when functional area goals align. Some examples:
“We have a customer experience team but who knows what they do — there are several pockets of them across the company and we don’t know why it’s not one team.”
“We have a lot of journey maps — don’t know where the stuff gets prioritized. We have a head of strategy, but he never talks to the functional areas.”
“Marketing plans seem isolated and not knitted together with the other functional areas.”
“Sales teams only share when they win.”
“No we don’t do this. At all.”
In short, what I’ve found in this study overall (with few exceptions) is no regular, structured insights sharing and collaborating to make decisions for the business.
A lot of “they don’t ask” or “no one’s ever asked the question.”
Widespread: “it’s there if we want to go find it.” Or, “gosh, salespeople are happy to sit down and talk, share what’s going on, if we ask.”
Some good news: It doesn’t appear that people know they could or should share but choose not to. Rather, it just doesn’t occur to anyone to share, or if it does occur to them they don’t make a habit of it. And we certainly don’t have tools that make it easy to collaborate with data, even if the human behaviors did exist.
We also answered the questions: What could we achieve by regularly harnessing, structuring and sharing insights upstream? How could we mitigate the standard risks in customer care by improving all touchpoints?
That’s awfully hard to do when you’re driving blind. Thankfully you don’t have to.
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