CIOs play an increasingly important part in enabling sales to deliver long-term customer relationships. Those relationships now need to be more tech-enabled than ever, due to the global pandemic.\nThe good news is that IT and sales objectives are becoming more aligned. According to IDG\u2019s 2020 State of the CIO report, 20% of CIOs say their role includes sales, up from 14% in 2019.\nBut what about the other 80%?\nIn a COVID-19 world, a customer relationship management (CRM) system is critical to staying on top of existing accounts, discovering new opportunities, and accelerating customer service. As the world changes, and customer expectations evolve, how can organizations foster a strong and mutually beneficial alliance between CIO and sales?\nWe wanted to ask a real CIO to find out. According to our conversation with Keith Onchuck, chief information officer for Ozinga, the CIO and sales relationship is changing in three emerging ways.\nConstant collaboration\nCRM solutions provide fundamental basics, like pipeline management and sales force automation. But most CIOs recognize that the strategic importance of an organization\u2019s CRM system can grow over time as priorities shift, new competitors emerge, and customer demands fluctuate.\nFor example, as certain sectors of the economy rebound and businesses retool their paths to revenue, organizations may switch focus from retaining customers through new service offerings, such as curbside pickup, to generating new revenue streams.\nTo ensure a CRM system reflects new developments, a CIO must regularly communicate and collaborate with sales teams \u201cto find out what works, what doesn\u2019t work, make changes, move forward, and regroup,\u201d says Onchuck. \u201cIt just becomes a cadence \u2013 meeting with the business every 30, 60 or 90 days to assess how the tools are working and continue to evolve.\u201d\nAdoption for the win\nAnother way IT leaders and sales teams can enable better business results together? Drive CRM adoption and best practices internally, among everyone who adds data to the system. That especially goes for sales reps, who are entering the most data.\nA CRM solution is only as effective as the data salespeople input when creating new accounts or interacting with customers. Fortunately, by acting as an \u201cevangelist,\u201d Onchuck says CIOs can champion the use of CRM and emphasize the value of maintaining accurate and detailed records.\u00a0 Smarter and more effective usage of CRM also makes it easier for CIOs to justify future technology investments.\nFrom technology deployment to trust\n\u00a0There\u2019s also a human component when it comes to nurturing a CIO-sales alliance. Sales leaders must learn to trust CIOs and believe that IT has their best interests at heart. For CIOs, that means delivering on what you promise for new tools and technology, from driving efficiency to automating mundane tasks, and truly listening to what your sales team needs to do their jobs the best way that they can.\n\u201cThe whole concept of trust has to be earned, and it takes a long time,\u201d says Onchuck. \u201cIt\u2019s about honoring your commitment to what you say you\u2019re going to do and when you\u2019re going to do it.\u201d\nFor Onchuck, when he first joined the company, earning the sales team\u2019s trust involved integrating \u201c12 different types of systems \u2013 none of which talked to each other.\u201d A sprawl of standalone systems and disparate information sources can prevent sales teams from gaining visibility into customer needs and pain points. However, by \u201cstabilizing Ozinga\u2019s IT environment,\u201d Onchuck says he was able to build trust between IT and sales.\nThe bottom line \nThese are challenging times for sales teams. A robust CRM system can automate manual tasks and record important information. But CIOs and sales teams that work together to further a customer-centric agenda can achieve even bigger things, like business growth and long-term customer loyalty.\nUnite your departments around your customer with the Salesforce Customer 360 Playbook.\u00a0Or, visit the Salesforce Resource Center to get what you need to drive a customer-first digital transformation.