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Digital Transformation Challenges Successful Enterprises – an Exploration of the Collaboration of Marketing and Sales Department in German Organisations

Hauer, Georg; Naumann, Nadine; Harte, Patrick


Georg Hauer

Nadine Naumann


“Today, marketing must be understood not in the old sense of making a sale – ‘telling and selling’ – but in the new sense of satisfying customer needs” (Kotler, Armstrong, Harris, & Piercy, 2016, p. 5). This statement illustrates the discrepancies as well as the gap between the marketing and the sales department. Both are different functions which often exhibit different goal orientation. They furthermore demand different skills and abilities (Shapiro, 2002). Generally, sales provide knowledge about customer’s wants and needs. In contrast, marketing makes use of this information by combining it with other sources to create products and value proposition more competitively (Keszey & Biemans, 2016). Although marketing and sales demonstrate crucial differences in their goals, it is essential to be aware of their reciprocal potential. If both departments operate in a way that is complementary, the efficiency of how customers are acquired, treated and retained increases (Shapiro, 2002). In recent years, there has been increased attention towards the relationship between marketing and sales (Hughes, Le Bon, & Malshe, 2012; Sleep, Lam, & Hulland, 2018; Le Meunier-Fitzhugh & Massey, 2019). Recent research emphasis the role of digitalization in interfunctional coordination within enterprises (Ruiz-Alba, Guesalaga, Ayestarán, & Morales Mediano, 2019). This research has not yet covered the impact of digital transformation on the collaboration of marketing and sales departments. Since technology is increasingly changing, it enables organizations to simplify co-operation between departments (Le Meunier-FitzHugh & Douglas, 2016). Therefore, it is even more important that this study explores the collaboration between marketing and sales in German organizations to determine whether digital transformation affects this. In addition, digital transformation is essential in every organization nowadays as frequent examples from the business world show. Phil Fasano, CIO of Kaiser Permanente, coined, “every company is already a digital company, even if they don’t perceive themselves to be one” (Baldwin, 2014, p. 23). According to Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, (2017) “Anything that can be digitized will be digitized, and anything that can be networked will be networked” (p. V). To sum up, there is general agreement among researchers that through a good collaboration between marketing and sales departments the business performance can be increased. Furthermore, there is general consensus that digital transformation will shape the future of organizations. However, there exists no research how the digital transformation affects the collaboration of marketing and sales departments. This study was conducted as an organizational-based research. In total, six German organizations are investigated through semi-structured expert interviews.


Hauer, G., Naumann, N., & Harte, P. (2021). Digital Transformation Challenges Successful Enterprises – an Exploration of the Collaboration of Marketing and Sales Department in German Organisations. Innovation & Management Review, 18(2), 164-174.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 8, 2020
Online Publication Date Jun 7, 2021
Publication Date Jun 30, 2021
Deposit Date Jun 23, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jun 23, 2021
Journal Innovation & Management Review
Print ISSN 2515-8961
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 2
Pages 164-174
Keywords Marketing, Collaboration, Sales, Digital transformation, Digitalization, Generational conflict
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This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence maybe seen at

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