We’ll jump directly to making you realize how important cross-departmental collaboration is. Does the following resemble your company or at least some of its teams?
The sales department sells and promises non-existing features, demanding their development in the product department. It also complains about low-quality inbound leads generated by the marketing department.
Meanwhile, the marketing department, not understanding sales, works on things the sales department won’t use. Instead, the sales department creates their own materials. The product department is preoccupied with developing features that won’t resonate with the market.
The customer success department onboards unsatisfied customers because they feel they’re not getting what the sales department promised. Even though the customer success team works with clients, they don’t communicate any upsell opportunities to the sales department.
The cause is a lack of communication and collaboration between departments. If you’re in a leading position, being it sales (or other) director or manager, your goal is to co-create a big functional machine, not several separate entities (departments). Keep reading to find out why and how you connect various departments in your organization.
Specifically, we’re going to give guidance on what can be done in front of the computer, possibly via a phone or online chat room.
Networking events are great places to meet quality potential candidates. However, in 2020 and 2021, this doesn’t seem to be the option.
The utmost reason to cooperate, which is actually quite obvious, is so that projects don’t fail. To run a successful business, the teams and departments inside it need to communicate. If they don’t, they assume, believe, or hope, which won’t work as your business grows.
Collaboration at work helps problem-solve - Sharing an issue cross-departmentally means more people sharing their different points of view. You’re getting different perspectives on the matter, and fixing problems becomes a breeze when smooth collaboration habits are rooted.
Collaboration is essential to us as human beings - Cooperation at work is a sign of healthy company culture. People value being a part of a team. By the Queens University of Charlotte, roughly 75% of employees think collaboration at work is important. If they collaborate successfully, they’re happy. Happy employees can boost their productivity by up to 20% more than their unhappy colleagues, as the Social Market Foundation found in 2019.
We’re going to focus on collaboration with 3 departments that usually cooperate with the sales departments; the marketing department, the product department, and the customer success department. If you’re finding yourself in an “earlier” stage of your company development and instead have dedicated people than departments, don’t let us lose you here! The collaboration setup and tips apply to individuals, too.
The CEO’s, CRO’s (whom all the departments report to) or any other leader’s priority is turnover. Ineffective collaboration results in increased costs. Due to lack of communication, things are done repeatedly, by multiple people, or maybe not even done at all. If you want your customers to stay with you, you need to provide excellent customer service, starting with an effective acquisition of the new ones, through their smooth onboarding, to an eventual upsell or their retention every year.
All the departments need to unite and help their leaders to increase the customer lifetime value while decreasing the customer acquisition costs.
1. The sales department < > the marketing department
These 2 departments need to share a goal. They have to be in constant touch, communicate and optimize the whole funnel from generating a lead to getting a customer constantly. They should never pay attention to only individual steps in the funnel but always focus on the whole picture. If the marketing department generates tons of leads, but the sales department cannot turn them into qualified leads, something is amiss. They should take a look at the whole process again, together.
Rarely, the whole organization gives the same answer to a simple question” who are your ideal customers, and what do you offer them?”. Every company must have a definition of their tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3 customers, and the ways they can acquire them. Only by collaboration and having a united strategy (focusing on the same customer, using the same value proposition) do they increase the probability of getting customers on board.
2. The sales department < > the product department
These 2 departments stay in touch to know whether what was planned between the sales representative and the new customer is also realistic to deliver. The sales representatives can’t promise or sell non-existing features and then expect the product department to develop them. It’s the other way around. The product department should be asking the salespeople for customers’ needs insights. Knowing what the clients want helps determine which features they should develop first. The sales department then focuses on the impact of new features - how many upsell or new customers can the latest developments get.
Sharing the features development roadmap is essential for your business. Don’t let the product department develop what they (or even you) think is the best. They should work on features according to the market's feedback - and this they can only get from the customer-facing people - the sales representatives. Discussions should revolve around how many customers you lost because of a missing feature, how many customers they could upsell by having new features, etc. Only then planning the further development comes into play.
3. The sales department < > the customer success department
These 2 departments should work hard together on bringing a great product while providing a great customer experience. They need to make the customer love the product and the company. The fewer struggles and disappointments during customers’ onboarding and the solution implementation, the more cooperative the customer will be in upsells and recommending you to other potential clients.
The sales department can’t promise or sell what the customer success team can’t deliver, to put it simply. They have to do a flawless handover to the customer success department, so both the customer and the customer success team move on surprise-free.
While talking to the customers, the customer success team gathers a lot of information to help the sales department upsell. This way can the success team grow business together.
Smooth cross-departmental collaboration, while delivering a great tool and providing a perfect customer experience, also optimizes the customer lifetime value.
Collaboration needs to be rooted in your company culture. If it’s not, start at the top - leading by example. Seeing the leaders, directors, and top executives investing their time into collaboration is the most effective way to get collaboration DNA in your company. Great leaders have the power to unite people. Otherwise, try also to:
Share and focus on the ultimate goal of the company
Set one goal for the entire company so all the departments can consciously contribute to it. Explain why the goal is there. This way, you’ll prevent people from having their “tunnel views” - doing tasks because they’re to be one, with no context provided.
People need meaning in the things they do. You’ll also help them to focus on what’s important and waste no time on needless things.
Implement collaboration tools
These tools will help teams communicate, manage projects, share information, etc. The sales representatives won’t even need to leave their chair to let the entire team know that a deal is moving forward, action is required, or a file was uploaded, and similar.
Apart from saving time, work collaboration tools allow maximum transparency (provided that your team uses them the way they should). Apart from the well-known Google Suite for organizations, where you can create, share and co-work on documents, presentations, tables, and many more, you can use:
Communication tools - SLACK, Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook, …
Project management tools - Asana, ClickUp, Trello, Atlassian, Basecamp, …
There plenty on the market! Check them out and pay special attention to compatibility with tools you already have and refuse to give up.
Sometimes, quarrels between departments stem from a lack of familiarity. So if you think the relationships amongst departments are not the best, let people know each other. Get them together, and make them see the human side of every coworker they need to interact with at work.
Teambuilding can be formal or informal, from sharing a breakfast to spending 2 days at a vineyard. If the problem is more profound, it’ll require some managerial input.
Constructive feedback is a blessing. We believe that nowadays, most companies do feedback rounds. However, they tend to keep it within teams.
To achieve and maintain a great collaboration system between departments, it’s also essential to do cross-departmental feedback sessions. It clears the atmosphere and offers fresh re/starts.
If you think the collaboration in your company could be smoother, dig into what’s happening. Maybe you’ll need to introduce new tools, techniques, or even managers to deal with the relationships, but remember, no change can happen overnight. Be patient. Change management always hurts a little.
Work collaboration is about the willingness to cooperate. But solely that won’t secure your business. People need vision, goal, mission, or anything that’ll give meaning to their jobs. If they’re able to share it and see the importance of everyone included, they’ll get great results.
Being on friendly terms with your business competitors can bring you many competitive advantages. Find out what they are in this chapter.READ NOW
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