This is Part 5 of sales and marketing alignment blog series based on conversations with Insightly VP of Sales Mark Ripley and CMO Tony Kavanagh.

Once your leaders have aligned around a shared marketing and sales strategy, it’s time to shift the focus and align the rest of the organization. After all, even the best strategy provides minimal value when your frontline staff feel disconnected and disengaged.

So, how can you ensure that staff at all levels align their actions with the company’s goals – not just the interests of their own departments?

Today we’ll explore how cross-functional teams can help achieve organization-wide alignment. We’ll also take a look at how Insightly’s sales department leverages cross-departmental teams to achieve its growth pipeline objectives.

Fostering relationships that transcend departments

The term “cross-functional team” is often used in business to describe a team that consists of people from different departments or functions. While this definition may be commonly accepted, the best cross-functional teams have more in common than mere membership to a group. Excellent teams aren’t just built on to-do lists, accountability charts, or productivity metrics; rather, they’re built on real human relationships.

“Relationships form the glue that connects cross-departmental teams,” says Mark Ripley, VP of Sales at Insightly. “To achieve greatness, an organization’s leaders must continuously encourage the formation and advancement of internal relationships.”

What can leaders do to encourage the development of healthy cross-departmental relationships? One way to encourage healthier and more collaborative cross-departmental relationships is to organize regular off-site team-building events and activities. Such events allow staff to momentarily step away from the daily grind of their jobs and network with colleagues from across the organization.

“At Insightly, social offsite events have helped us build more synergy among staff,” says Mark. “People feel more comfortable in a casual and relaxed setting, which makes it easier to form relationships that transcend department, job title, and seniority level.”

Structuring your team for success

As people get to know (and like) one another, they become more interested in each other’s lives and are able to better communicate with colleagues from other departments. But, cross-functional teams can’t become an extended version of your offsite social events. Clear objectives, roles, responsibilities, and expectations must be set to ensure the team achieves its goal.

How can you structure your cross-functional team for success? As Insightly learned with its cross-departmental growth pipeline initiative, you first have to appoint a team leader who can “own” success or failure.

After appointing his leader, Mark then worked closely with leadership from other departments to build the cross-functional team. They identified stakeholders who had the right mix of skills, experience, and expertise to align the various sources of pipeline.

“We assembled a cross-functional team that includes stakeholders from sales, marketing, product, and customer loyalty,” says Mark. “The team selected a point person from each department to work closely with the overall owner and serve as a liaison between the teams.”

Defining & measuring success

After team members and roles are clearly defined, the cross-functional group can start peeling back top-level objectives into more specific action items. Teams should develop their own data-centric goals that align with the overall goals of the company. The team leader should facilitate the creation of team-specific goals and incorporate candid feedback from each point person. At Insightly, the team defined the growth pipeline success with a specific number of opportunities from different sources.

In many cases, it may be necessary to develop secondary metrics that support the primary success indicator. That’s where a data-driven CRM, such as Insightly, proves to be particularly useful. Creating interactive business intelligence dashboards provides stakeholders with the data visualization they need to measure success in real-time.

For example, the Insightly growth pipeline team uses its own software to create dashboards that monitor primary and secondary KPIs, such as:

  • Number of opportunities by quarter, month, and day
  • Opportunity volume by source
  • Current opportunity volume vs. prior periods
  • Campaign contribution to opportunity volume

Business intelligence dashboards also make it possible for cross-functional teams to work smarter and remain focused on the most impactful activities. Instead of slicing and dicing spreadsheets or running complex SQL queries, team members gain instant access to reliable and actionable data from any web-enabled device. Easy access to key data frees up more time for collaboration, leading to more meaningful discussions, fresher ideas, and more alignment.

“Cross-functional teams can’t afford to waste time manually crunching data,” says Mark. “Dashboards bypass many of the administrative bottlenecks that are traditionally associated with data-driven decision making.”

Accelerate alignment with a better CRM

Whether you’re operationalizing at the team level or just starting the alignment conversation, one thing remains constant: achieving sales and marketing alignment is difficult, if not impossible, without a rock-solid CRM.

If your CRM is inhibiting organizational alignment, maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at the market. Download this free eBook from Insightly and find out if it’s time for you to make a change.

Download the guide