Let’s start our blog with a simple example of cross-functional collaboration goof up.
In a manufacturing company, the marketing department built sales collaterals for various customer journey stages.
The product brochure built by the marketing team was circulated to 20 sales reps via email.
Having stepped into sales meetings and shared the brochure, the sales team did not receive a positive response from prospects.
A few sales reps exchanged feedback regarding the brochure and later decided to discontinue using the brochure.
Now, did you notice the goof up?
Neither the marketing team took the initiative to interview the sales team before building the collateral, nor did the sales team take the initiative to share the feedback with the marketing team before discontinuing the brochure.
That’s where cross-functional collaboration comes into the picture and plays a significant role in the company.
In this post, we will cover the following topics:
- What is cross-functional collaboration?
- What are the different ways of cross-functional collaboration?
- Challenges in remote cross-functional team/collaboration.
- How to make cross-functional collaboration work?
- How can sales recording software be used to enhance cross-functional collaboration?
What is cross-functional collaboration?
Cross-functional collaboration in a sentence is when two or more teams collaborate on a common project or objective. Teams collaborate to get rid of silos and utilize each other’s strength to work alongside in achieving a bigger goal.
In the United States, more than 50% of workers say their jobs require collaboration. Nearly 75% of employees consider collaboration and teamwork to be very important.- Zippia
Organizations bridge the gap across the sales, customer support, marketing, product, customer success, human resource, engineering, legal, and finance teams to ensure harmony in times of need.
With the advent of remote working, the importance and regulation of cross-functional teams are more tightly managed by HR. Mastering virtual selling and working is impossible without the perfect synchronization of teams across the organization.
This takes us to our next discussion on why cross-functional collaboration benefits teams.
Why is cross-functional collaboration essential?
Lack of cross-functional collaboration leads to chaos and growth stagnation.
But the implementation of cross-functional collaboration helps in the following ways:
- More knowledge and expertise sharing
- Shared decisions are faster decisions
- Teams learn from each other
- Each individual is accountable for their work
- Teams are aware of the organizational activities
- Reduces duplication of activities and errors.
- Often leads to innovation
- Often leads to better customer service and experience
- Improves team spirit and healthy competition
- Teams receive more unbiased feedback and criticism
Employee turnover rates can be reduced by 50% at companies that encourage collaboration and communication at work.
What are the different ways of collaboration?
Collaboration between different teams works in different ways, and the motive to collaborate depends on the purpose or goal the organization is trying to achieve.
Here are some common examples where cross-functional collaboration comes into play.
1. Remote cross-functional collaboration
Remote teams are intentionally advised to collaborate to keep in touch and not lose contact. HR teams and senior management invest in building relations by engaging them in shared activities. While the motive of collaboration is not immediate, future requirements may erupt at any time. And sudden engagement of two different and unrelated teams in a remote landscape can be a task.
2. Tracking and visibility
Teams such as marketing and sales need to stay informed of each other’s work. Sales is dependent on marketing for market research, while marketing relies on sales teams for customer pain points and precise requirements.
In most cases, teams take advantage of CRM software or conversation intelligence platform to track customer data and receive a holistic picture of the deals and the customer’s industry.
Tips From a CRO: How to identify there’s a gap in the Marketing and Sales team?
3. Team selling
Majority of first-level sales meetings and discovery sessions are doable without any external assistance. However, in mature sales stages, team selling plays a phenomenal role. Team selling comprises more than one seller or team member from another team, like a product manager or a developer.
4. Project Handover Calls
Sales and project teams need to execute the project handover sensitively without missing out on critical information. Both teams share documentation and tips about the success of the project. The project manager needs to know the insider details as soon as possible, usually communicated by the sales team.
5. Internal Projects and task assignment
Product teams usually collaborate with the sales and customer success team for customer feedback and criticism on the product. The product team also collaborates with project teams and presales teams to get their feedback on the new product features through usability testing. Internal assignments, projects, and training sessions are essential for the organization’s growth and the product’s development. Cross-functional collaboration is generally tricky when internal projects are at stake; the collaboration gets easier when there’s a customer requirement, such as collaborating on a sales proposal.
What are the common challenges of remote cross-functional team collaboration?
Cross-functional collaboration challenges are discussed to ensure maximum productivity during the collaboration. Specific roadblocks can make the process bitter and less efficient.
Let’s understand these challenges one by one.
1. Communication gap
Most teams are generally in the dark about the roles and responsibilities of other teams. Even exciting projects and new success plans are also released to other team members in parallel to the customer launch. This situation is a result of poor communication between the teams.
2. Separate goals and priorities
While all departments have their clear objectives, there are a few or no overlapping objectives between the teams. This drift in the goals also causes teams to choose priorities as per their goals while deprioritizing collaboration goals.
3. Demographic and geographical distances
Teams are spread across the globe and located in different time zones. Expecting all members to behave the same way is not a realistic expectation and causes unwanted conflicts. Cross-functional collaboration is highly tricky with physical distance and needs more coordination.
4. Unstructured meetings
With multiple teams participating in the same meeting, the agenda, time, and motive can be huge. Unstructured and poorly planned meetings lead to a wastage of time, and Stakeholders not only lose interest but also avoid working together with such teams. The resistance increases with unstructured meetings and leads to conflicts.
5. Poor visibility on progress
Most teams are unaware of the other teams’ KPIs and barely understand how the team is making progress. One team’s plan can hinder another team’s plan. For example, a planned product feature for this quarter may not be as important as a product feature that prospects are requesting urgently. If the sales team can’t track which features are in the roadmap, they’ll not be able to answer the prospects in time and meet their requirements.
6. Siloed and disparate software applications
Software applications used by team members for mail exchange, messaging, documentation, analytics, etc., can differ as per the teams’ requirements. These applications work in silos and usually don’t talk to each other and can’t capture the holistic picture.
You are familiar with the benefits of cross-functional collaboration and understand the challenges faced by the team members in collaborating together. To ensure an appropriate balance between the two, let’s get into a discussion about how to make cross-functional collaboration work where the departments are more agile and positive.
If you are a remote sales team, then we have some GOOD NEWS.
We have a list of 10 fantastic sales tricks that’ll gradually accelerate your business and create long-term impacts.
How to make cross-functional collaboration work?
1. Make a collaboration policy and plan
Collaboration plans are feasible and productive when it follows a particular structure. Simple tips like;
- Best practices playbook
- Use case discussion
- Process standardization
- Goal setting
- Meeting structure
Can offer all departments a guideline and ensure positive results from the collaboration.
For example, an everyday use case could be a new joiner onboarding process. Several teams are involved and need to ensure a smooth transition of the new joiner through different processes and meetings right from the day of induction.
2. Standardize processes
The idea of standardization of processes across several teams sounds like an overwhelming process at first. But the larger picture is different. Simple processes like project progress, new product release, sales business wins/losses, rather than sharing in internal teams, can be officially announced in a company-wide meeting.
For example: Many companies mandatorily conduct monthly meetings or annual meet-ups to discuss the business progress, roadmaps, and subsequent years’ plan. Standardizing the announcement process keeps all teams on the same page and a sense of belonging towards a common objective.
3. Collaborate on a shared goal
Having a common objective is the best way to engage team members. Darryl Praill, CRO at VanillaSoft, 2020’s one of the Top SaaS Branding Expert, and an award-winning Content Creator, talks about the Importance of bridging the gap between the Sales and Marketing teams. He shares his wisdom by reiterating the importance of having a shared goal for marketing and sales- revenue. When both teams start working towards the same goal, they automatically start helping and encouraging each other to win more deals.
4. Public team meetings
All collaborations are not successful, and some members are also complacent about the initiatives. To ensure team members are accountable for their work and genuinely contribute to the team meetings, all meetings need to be public and accessible.
Right from the calendar invite to the call recording must be accessible by both departments and senior management.
5. Organized meeting structure training
Meetings are tricky and need ample effort to result in a conclusion. But carelessly decided meetings with no head and toe are meaningless and unproductive. Hence, senior management must press on a clear agenda, stakeholder requirements, meeting outcome, and software application. Post-meeting notes sharing should be mandatory but not by the stakeholders; rather notes should be generated automatically.
6. Make use of technology
Gartner survey reveals a 44% rise in workers’ use of collaboration tools since 2019
From the beginning, it's clear we'll turn to technology because most of the problems are solved by technology. When we say technology, we press on those applications that are accessible and applicable for all teams.
For example, conversation intelligence is one such technology that all teams can apply. We have built a detailed blog post to help users understand the technology’s versatility- 10 Conversation Intelligence Benefits That Work Like an Absolute Charm in 2022.
7. Revise and repeat
No plan or method is always right. While some plans may be successful for cross-functional collaborations, others may not. Identifying what works and what doesn’t is a systematic process. Frequent feedback and new ideas must be invited. And when the right time comes, make changes and bring a fresh perspective to the old ways of collaboration with organization teams.
How can sales recording software be used to enhance cross-functional collaboration?
In the previous section, we stressed the importance of technology and making the meeting public. To ensure the two are taken seriously, you need the help of sales recording software.
A sales recording software offers a common platform for teams to record meetings, transcribe(call notes), and analyze the meeting. These sales meetings are accessible to all stakeholders and shared with other teams.
Now comes the WOW part. The cross-functional collaboration meetings can constantly be reviewed by senior management or the project lead. And the sales recording software, smartly, generates an automatic score and call statistics–each member knows where they are mistaken and what can be improved in the next meeting.
Sales recording software is an efficient software application that doesn’t let any team member get complacent. Each team member needs to perform to their fullest potential as the calls are recorded.
If your company is dealing with a cross-functional collaboration challenge, then the sales recording software can come in handy for all teams.
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