What Are Cross-Functional Teams?

DEFINITION
A cross-functional team is a team of individuals with diverse abilities who come together to reach a common goal of user success and revenue generation.  It’s typically composed of employees from all levels of an organization, helping in the decision-making process.

💡Understanding cross-functional teams

If you’re a product-led or a sales-led organization transitioning to product-led motion, you need to work with a defined focus to meet your users’ needs and do it with speed. This includes collecting feedback, leveraging a wide set of data, and communicating to the product team.

Not only that, your marketing, sales, and customer success teams need to work closely, with aligned goals. Working in siloes doesn’t work in a PLG company as it needs smooth coordination and collaboration, not just amongst teams, but across departments.

This is where cross-functional teams come in. Similar to a revenue operations team, cross-functional teams have members with different skillsets (marketing, sales, finance, customer success) and work toward the same goal of generating revenue. This results in better efficiency and quick movement across the organization.

🖋 Takeaway

Cross-functional teams are a necessity for PLG-driven organizations because it helps them achieve the goals faster while also making sure the users’ needs are met. It can be difficult to manage a cross-functional team in the beginning, but the end results are worth the initial difficulty. 

Great cross-functional teams are built on a common goal of customer success and revenue generation. Before you start forming the teams, make sure you have the goals aligned, which will help you avoid chaos.

Lastly, cross-functional teams, if well diversified, can provide deep insights, and also help in the execution of your vision. The only challenge is managing a diverse team, but with a good leader, cross-functional teams can help your organization scale faster than ever before.


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What Is A Cross-Functional Team?

A cross-functional team is a team of individuals with different sets of competencies from different parts of the organization working together towards a common goal. 

It’s comprised of a mix of individuals from different lines of business such as marketing, sales, R&D, operations, and finance. It also includes members from different levels, breaking the old-school hierarchy and speeding up the decision-making process.

Why Are Cross-Functional Teams Important?

Each organization has potential resources spread across different departments: HR, marketing, sales, production, accounting, and research. Putting them all together reap the benefits of cross-functional teams like:

  • Increased productivity: With cross-functional teams, tasks don’t have to wait for approval from a different department and a team member doesn’t have to wait for resources and data when needed. This wins back a lot of time otherwise lost in communication across departments.
  • Better coordination and communication: As the different teams work together, there’s a low scope of miscommunication and improved coordination.
  • Quick decision-making: As a PLG organization, you need to move fast to stay ahead of the competition. You need to act on user feedback to make sure the product keeps getting better. With cross-functional teams, you’re able to make better and more informed decisions at a quicker pace.
  • Improved troubleshooting capabilities: With improved communication, any bottlenecks get addressed quickly. Your marketing team doesn’t have to wait for days to understand how their efforts translated into sales. Your customer success team doesn’t have to wait for hours for data before they can provide a resolution to a user. 

How To Develop A Cross-Functional Team

This is especially important if you’re new to PLG or are transitioning from a sales-led team to a product-led team. You can start with cross-functional team meetings and then create a team. Here’s how you can go about it:

Bring The Right Team Together

There are specific skill sets necessary to have a skilled cross-functional team. The functions you work on will determine who can be a good member.

The often neglected condition for successful cross-functional teams is to gather people with similar abilities, simply in different departments. Cross-functional team members should be independent individuals who do not need a lot of guidance but have the power to make decisions.

Have A Determined Leader

Remember that there’s no absolute need for a defined leader. But in case there’s no defined goal, you run the risk of having team members working in different directions.

Having a leader to delegate tasks, oversee communications and tasks, and ensure everyone is working in the right direction will help your team stay together.

Set Clear Objectives

Even before you set up your team, you need to have specific goals in place because you want your cross-functional team to work with specific goals in mind. This way, they don’t have to work in different directions.

While there are many ways to clearly define objectives, one of the most effective ways is to create a clear road map.

A strong roadmap will enable you to assign tasks, dates, and team members to specific tasks to maximize their capabilities and keep everybody on track.

Choose The Right Tech Stack

Another step to aligning your team on clear objectives and results is to choose the right tech stack.

Whether you are product-led, sales-assisted, or anything in between, you need tools that tell you what people are doing and their behaviors so that you can speak to them directly in-product or through other channels.

At Breadcrumbs, we think cross-functional teams need to integrate data from all touchpoints: marketing automation platforms, CRMs, and product usage tools to understand what activities and actions drive behavior and execute based on those insights quickly.

With Breadcrumbs, you can integrate HubSpot or Salesforce to access tons of information about how trial users, prospects, and clients interact with your brand. You can then link product analytics solutions like Pendo and Mixpanel and learn how they engage with your product.

You can build models that create scores that can then be used to drive workflows, such as in-app messages, nurturing campaigns, and emails from a salesperson–enabling you to implement a robust strategy, be it product-led or sales-assisted.

Align And Share Success

Once you get your team alignment done, it’s essential to focus on winning. Regardless of the size, all that you accomplish deserves some recognition from stakeholders.

The beauty of having a consistent team alignment roadmap and functionality is the ability to re-evaluate with each step.

None of these characteristics should stagnate and be malleable as the various priorities and tasks take center stage.

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