Ernst & Young: Marketing And Sales Must Play Nice In The Digital Game

by Giselle Abramovich, Senior & Strategic Editor at


The CSO—the chief sales officer—is feeling the pain of “digital disruption” as much as the CMO. What’s more, the worlds of sales and marketing are even banging heads these days. Both sales and marketing find themselves part of a quest to provide a pleasant and successful end-to-end customer experience—and therein lies the rub.

The problem is, traditionally, sales and marketing have operated in silos, very much detached from one another. But, according to a new study by Ernst & Young, organizations need to better begin to integrate sales and marketing if they have any hope to survive in the digital future.

Sales and marketing synergy is necessary for both B2B and B2C, according to Woody Driggs, global advisory customer lead at Ernst & Young, whose study, “Competition, Coexistence Or Symbiosis: The DNA Of C-Suite Sales & Marketing Leaders,” is based on interviews with 700 sales and marketing executives and more than 120 C-suite members.  B2B buyers are more than halfway (57 percent) to a buying decision before they are willing to talk to a sales representative. In the B2C world, 81 percent of shoppersresearch products online. Sales and marketing heads need to work together to provide a proper end-to-end experience for customers and prospects—or risk losing to the competition, the study says.

“The world of the CMO and CSO is clearly being disrupted,” Driggs said, in an exclusive interview with “Think about your own experience in sales today. When you go to buy something, from a consumer perspective, the experience has changed totally. You want to shop 24/7, via any channel or platform, and you want the experience to be consistent—or omnichannel. The CMO and CSO in today’s environment have to recognize what is happening in all the channels. They really have to understand the end-to-end experience that their customers are trying to achieve.”

The B2B world is also being disrupted, albeit in different ways, he said. Traditionally, selling in the B2B world was called “solution selling.” Sales executives researched a company and understood its pain points; then the pitch was about how the product or service could address and even solve the prospects’ challenges. In today’s environment, we are well beyond that, where co-creation is becoming the norm, Driggs said.

“A client—in addition to wanting you to understand their problems—wants you to actually help solve them,” Driggs said. “That means going beyond the products and services you have and pulling in other ecosystem partners to create something totally differentiated and unique that exactly meets their needs. That’s the end-to-end experience in B2B today.”

According to Driggs, more companies are looking at options for how they deal with the problem of end-to-end experience. Three trends are emerging. The first is some CMOs and CSOs are stepping up and playing a broader role. Second, in many organizations sales and marketing have become knitted closer together to create new experiences. Third, some organizations are taking a big step and hiring a chief commercial officer, Driggs told

The CCO is responsible for marketing, sales, and service, and interacts with customers. The CMO and CSO report to the CCO. The idea is what Driggs called a “thinning of the C-suite,” where a trio of leadership is focused on commercial, innovation/product, and operations. Business units such as finance, sales, marketing, and IT would fall under one of these three main categories. Driggs said that it is difficult for companies to organize in this way without having a CEO who is dedicated to customer experience. The challenge becomes easier, Driggs said, when a CEO can get three people aligned across one strategy for end-to-end experiences.

“If you look at the companies that have really achieved significant success in creating true differentiated experiences—companies like Starbucks, Amazon, Zappos, or Apple—those companies have really powerful CEOs that brought together the entire company around the concept of end-to-end, totally integrated experiences that are really, truly customer-centric,” Driggs explained.


For the full findings, click here.

Here is what the Twitterverse is saying about the relationship between sales and marketing: 


About Giselle Abramovich

Giselle Abramovich is senior & strategic editor at Previously she wrote for outlets including Direct Marketing News, Mobile Marketer, Mobile Commerce Daily, Luxury Daily, and Digiday. Reach her at, or follow her on Twitter @GAbramovich.

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