Cross-functional Insight Sharing — Why So Dismal?

Cross functional Insight Sharing

In B2B, every functional area 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.

But First, A Small Study

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.

We covered as much as possible in 20–30 minutes; here’s a summation of the study.

Study Question

What kind of insight sharing is happening between functional areas (Product, Marketing, Sales, Success)?

Interviewees

B2B Marketing and Product Leaders

Interviews: 18 companies encompassing

Fortune 100 (4)

F500 (5)

F1000 (3)

Medium/Private (3)

Small (3)

GEO (interviewees sat in or responsible for)

16 — Europe and/or Global

2 — exclusively North America

“Where are we supposed to share, Maureen? Teams, Slack, Confluence, Chatter, attach to WebEx, Pendo…?”

tl;dr | 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.

Results

First, The Outliers

One F100 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, 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 F100, I interviewed leaders of 3 different divisions. One of the divisions does an exceptional job sharing and collaborating on insights across all 4 functional areas. The interviewee shared that that was the result of 4 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, CX, 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 F500 companies has excellent data and insight sharing on their GTM team (Marketing & Sales) but none at all with or from their Product and Engineering teams.

Otherwise, the Recurring Themes

Tools

  • 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 only shares 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 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.

Managing Director

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