Despite the clear benefits of aligning sales and marketing teams, two-fifths of British companies have yet to align their sales goals with their marketing activities, according to research conducted by specialist recruiter Randstad Sales, Marketing and Retail. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

Four in ten (40%) of sales and marketing professionals surveyed across the country say their companies have yet to successfully implement formal programmes, systems or processes for unifying sales and marketing functions.

The research found that a third (33%) of those polled said their companies have no plans to implement any formal programmes for unifying these two critical functions. Only 8% say they are intending on integrating teams in the future, despite much hard evidence and business rationale for combining the two.

Ruth Jacobs, managing director of Randstad Sales, Marketing and Retail, explained: "British businesses continue to suffer from a seemingly unbridgeable divide between their marketing and sales teams - a gap that undermines the efforts of the crucial corporate functions necessary to generate demand, capture revenue and gain a competitive advantage. Management need to be educated about where and how marketing should be supporting both the go-to-market process and every step of the lead generation, qualification, and closing cycle."

While 80% of organisations recognise the benefits of better interconnectivity across these key demand-generating functions, they are being thwarted by: organisational structures (cited in 34% of responses); corporate culture-biases about sales and marketing roles (26%); siloed operations (11%); insufficient support from management (18%); and ineffective reporting (11%).

While more than three quarters (77%) of sales professionals said their own function was leveraging customer data to form deeper, more connected relationships with the customer, almost two-fifths (37%) of salespeople said their organisation's marketing department was failing to effectively leverage customer data. Similarly, when marketing professionals were asked how they viewed sales, one in four (39%) said the sales function is their organisation was not leveraging customer data effectively.

Only two-thirds of respondents had customer relationship management (CRM) programmes - the first post of call for integrating the data generated by both sales and marketing teams. Of those with CRM, 27% were unsatisfied with their organisations' view of customer interactions.

And when it comes to reporting and effective data analysis, the UK is lagging behind US competitors. As part of the research, Randstad analysed the media profile of 'big data' in the UK and compared it to that in the United States. Over the five years from 2009 to 2014 (inclusive) there were 10,000 articles mentioning big data in the UK. Meanwhile, there were 84,000 in the US over the same period. In addition, the profile of big data in the UK has increased much later than in the US, with 82% of those articles appearing in the last two years - compared to 76% in the USA.

Underlying and underpinned by siloed and detached operations are entrenched corporate culture-biases about sales and marketing roles. Less than a fifth of sales and marketing departments are highly collaborative - despite their interdependence, most sales and marketing teams have only "intermittent relations and interactions". Keeping the two functions separate in organisational structures has enforced perceptions of incompatible cultures. For instance, the marketing-sales divide is commonly put down to the different mindsets of the two - "short-term orientation versus long-term orientation."

Only 47% of sales professionals polled agreed that their colleagues in marketing were as concerned with generating return on investment as the sales side of the business. Almost one in five (19%) salespeople said that marketers were not as market-savvy and on-target with demand-generating campaigns as sales teams.