Bridge the gap between Marketing & Sales with Knowledge Management


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Recently, I stumbled upon an interesting whitepaper series, authored by Dr. Andrew McAfee, a renowned Enterprise 2.0 champion. This series published by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) explores the implementation of enterprise 2.0 (knowledge management) technologies in three key areas: connecting sales and marketing, fostering innovation, and enabling enterprise Q&A. Here are some key findings from the series:

• More than 60% of firms who invested in collaborative frameworks achieved big gains in knowledge sharing and communication accuracy between marketing and sales.

• 41% of respondents say that prior to deploying enterprise 2.0 tools, their marketing and sales departments shared knowledge and information “poorly” or “very poorly.”

• Open innovation delivers beneficial changes to both internal processes and external products. Open innovation helped realize major changes to the internal processes of 48% of respondents and to the external offerings of 34% of respondents.

I found this whitepaper series especially interesting, given the insights offered about two areas that I’m passionate about; B2B marketing and Knowledge management/sharing. Given my background in knowledge management earlier and content marketing now, I’ve often thought about the positive impact knowledge management can create for a company’s marketing and sales ecosystem – and the results from the reports prove the point.

Knowledge Management

In today’s complex matrix organizations that are divided by geographic and business line boundaries, it is a challenge to share knowledge effectively within same teams, let alone multiple departments. Add virtual work patterns, mobile workforce, different time zones, multiple language barriers to this mix, and you have individuals and departments operating in silos. In the context of B2B marketing and sales, lack of knowledge sharing can lead to disastrous effects like marketing creating campaigns or sending out collateral without informing sales, and sales finding out about promotions from their customers rather than marketing! Other awkward scenarios such as marketing not being aware when product feature enhancements have taken place or when a certain service has been discontinued are also due to poor knowledge sharing.

Sales teams have to cope with the latest trends, competition and buyer demands and provide value through compelling promotional programs, while marketing teams are under constant pressure to churn out marketing programs to respond to market demands with smaller budgets and within shortened timeframes. The requirement is to strike a delicate balance between being innovative and competitive while using fewer resources and smaller budgets. Knowledge management therefore is extremely important because it enables the opening of communication channels between the two teams and makes it easier to share ideas, information and material seamlessly.

Marketing automation systems can bridge the gap when it comes to sharing data and analytics between marketing and sales. But knowledge sharing is more than just two-way integration between marketing and sales systems; it is about a culture of sharing. Tools and devices can only enable knowledge sharing; ultimately it is people and processes that can drive the change.

Knowledge of customer issues and needs, market dynamics, company products and services, company vision, competitor intelligence, well thought out sales strategy is what distinguishes a knowledgeable sales person from an average one. With this knowledge, it is equally important to strike the synergy with marketing teams to make sure this is reflected in the campaigns created and the collateral produced. Marketing relies on sales to provide real-world, on the ground feedback on marketing effectiveness. Sales, on the other hand, relies on marketing to translate the feedback received into a value proposition that can resonate with future prospects. Effective knowledge sharing can happen only when this feedback loop works like a well-oiled machine.

As indicated by the report findings, knowledge sharing also fosters a culture of open innovation. You never know where the next big marketing idea for your company is coming from- it could be from somebody within your marketing team , or is equally as likely from, say, sales or finance or operations or customer service. In order to tap into the collective knowledge pool for the most innovative ideas, it is important to provide a platform for your employees, partners, and customers to share their thoughts and have a mechanism in place to collate, categorize, prioritize and execute these ideas.

The increasing use of enterprise social tools that enable search (allowing users to search for other users or content), links (grouping similar users or content together), authoring (including blogs and wikis), tags (allowing users to social tag content), extensions (recommendations of users or content based on profile), signals (allowing people to subscribe to users or content with RSS feeds) indicates that companies have started taking knowledge management seriously.

Marketing and sales can no longer work in silos. In fact, it is not just about marketing and sales; every function within an enterprise should contribute towards demand generation and bottom-line growth. But to do this, companies need to invest in and encourage a culture of knowledge sharing. It is certain that the future belongs to those companies that can effectively capture and utilize both explicit and tacit knowledge available within the social enterprise.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Teena Gomes
Teena is responsible for the content strategy at LeadFormix. In her career spanning over 10 years, she has worked in the various segments of the Content & Knowledge Management spectrum, right from Knowledge Creation and Delivery to strategic Knowledge Management transformation projects. Before taking over as Content Head at LeadFormix, where she handles various facets of content marketing, she worked for IBM as a Program Manager in the KM space. She has also worked in PR, media and Corporate Communications earlier.


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