Sales Leaders Now Spending More Time with Marketing Leaders

he past year has been difficult for many organizations, but there was a significant behavior change by sales leaders. They started spending more time with their marketing colleagues. The majority of chief sales officers (CSOs) spent at least 20% more time with chief marketing officers (CMOs) over the past year.

As I continue to research sales and marketing alignment, the amount of time CSOs and CMOs spend together seems like a good indicator of increased alignment. There is more to study here, but increased time and collaborative activities indicate a shift in the right direction.

Fully 87% of sales leaders spent more time with marketing, with a third of CSOs greatly increasing their time. The graph below shows the breakdown of the increased time:

  • 33% greatly increased time spent (50%+)
  • 26% moderately increased time spent (20%+)
  • 28% slightly increased time spent
CSOs now spending 20% more time with CMOs

This data implies that when sales leaders encounter difficult times, they explore change to improve results. A typical sales organization focuses on driving pipeline growth and hitting their revenue targets. This “go it alone” approach works until it doesn’t.

Sales and Marketing Leaders Collaborating on Critical Issues

And what are these revenue leaders discussing when they come together? They are working on areas that will make a difference in results. One of the important lessons of the past year is to allocate more resources towards more likely prospective customers. CSOs are collaborating on how to better understand their audience and the activities that create engagement by mapping the customer life cycle. This mapping process improves messaging and content, which resonate more with prospects with input from both sales and marketing.

Sales Leaders Spending More on Digital Marketing

It is already unusual to see digital marketing spending in a sales budget, but an increase of 43% from 2020 spend to 2021 budget shows that sales leaders are embracing the methods and processes of their marketing partners. In addition to this budget increase, CSOs are specifically improving their customers’ digital buying experience. The increase in remote work environments and virtual selling are here to stay, so sales leaders are reviewing digital processes for the hybrid times of 2021 and beyond. As marketing has led more of the digital transformation efforts than sales, this is an area where CMOs can guide sales leaders.

Sales leaders increase digital marketing budget in 2021

Data and Analytics Improve the Sales Process

Taking the lead from marketing’s experience with data, CSOs have been working to build out more robust data analytics capabilities. Every stage of the buying journey is enhanced with the availability of data, so collaborating on metrics across the funnel has real impact to both teams. These include both inputs that trigger events and activities and measuring outcomes with enough specificity and rigor to continue to improve conversion rates at each stage.


When time is one of the most precious commodities during the day, and virtual meetings have made collaboration more intentional, it is a hopeful sign that CSOs and CMOs are spending more time together. The consequences of this time will be well spent.

This post originally appeared on the Gartner Blog Network.

Jeffrey L Cohen

Jeffrey L Cohen