Collaboration between sales and marketing divisions
The issue addressed in this study is the insufficient collaboration between the sales and marketing divisions within a sales organisation. To address this problem, the purpose of this study was to investigate and research the antecedents of collaboration between the sales and marketing divisions and to identify possible recommendations for improving the collaboration. The study was conducted in a subsidiary of an international organisation in South Africa. This sales company had a dedicated sales and marketing division from which a purposive convenience sample was selected. Participants came from the same population, and sample groups were of equal size for the quantitative and qualitative data analysis. The data was analysed on the basis of being employed in a sales or marketing position. A mixed methods convergent design was chosen with the intent to merge the results of the quantitative and qualitative data analysis. The researcher believed that quantitative or qualitative research alone would be insufficient to gain an adequate understanding of the research problem in such a small sample size. A questionnaire consisting of open- and closed-ended questions was developed and structured around the identified antecedents of collaboration gathered from the literature review. The antecedents were cultural and economic in nature with aspects related to information and the sales division‟s involvement in the marketing strategy process. The qualitative data was integrated with the quantitative data around the existing antecedents of collaboration. The integrated results showed that, overall, the respondents agreed that collaboration and coordination with regard to their activities are to the sales organisation‟s advantage. The majority strongly felt that the current collaboration could and should be improved. What appeared to be lacking was a shared frame of reference and the ability to create and maintain a personal rapport with one another based on appreciation of one another‟s work. Each division expected the other to help it achieve its divisional objective but not one another‟s objectives. Despite the apparent conflict and insufficient collaboration, there was an underlying wish by both sales and marketing respondents to collaborate on shared goals. The change should be driven by senior management since a positive senior management attitude towards collaboration leads to reduced inter-functional conflict. In addition, a culture of organisational learning and transparent information sharing should be encouraged. The development of intra-organisational guidelines on the role allocation of activities during the buying cycle will reduce uncertainty. Open and respectful communication between the sales and marketing divisions can provide a basis for the clarification of misunderstandings and keep the other division up to date in terms of marketing initiatives. Increasing the frequency of co-travelling of the members of the marketing and sales divisions will assist in fostering relationships and increase credibility along with opportunities for further study. The current market intelligence system needs improvement. Alternative market intelligence systems should be investigated by sales and marketing individuals. The system should promote easy access to all within the sales organisation. The sales divisions should be more involved throughout the marketing strategy. There was no consensus on when, how or how often and to what degree they should be involved. It is recommended that an intra-organisational survey should be conducted together with the consultation of senior sales and marketing individuals. Other factors that are important for collaboration were identified. There is a definite need for clear and transparent two-way communication between sales and marketing divisions. Regular, scheduled meetings between sales and marketing divisions are needed where the quality of the exchange is more important than the quantity or duration of meetings. These will help foster a sense of collaboration within the organisation.