Today’s post is by Peter Strohkorb, a sales and marketing collaboration and alignment consultant, a published author, an international speaker, an executive mentor, as well as an executive MBA guest lecturer on sales and marketing collaboration and alignment. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In an excellent article, called “You become what you think about,” Gerhard Gschwandtner – founder and CEO at Selling Power magazine and host of the Sales 2.0 Conferences – describes the importance of mindset.
I was fortunate enough to experience one of Gerhard’s keynotes recently. I think he is on the right track in talking about people’s mindsets as being important – perhaps even mission-critical. A favorite line of mine that I have also repeated in my book The OneTEAM Method is this one:
“You can have the latest technology and the most sophisticated business processes, but, if your people are not with you, then it will all come to nothing.”
Specifically, I believe organizations today will get the results they want with a collaborative mindset. However, many business leaders still follow old management theories. They entrench group-think and create entrenched silo mindsets that can impede collaboration. As an example, just take the relationship between sales and marketing functions in most large organizations. With differing outlooks on life, differing objectives and KPIs, and with poor communication, they are bound to deliver less-than-optimal outcomes and value.
What keeps these two teams from collaborating successfully? In a world of monthly sales quotas and quarterly stock market reporting cycles, all too often the short-term pressures of business usurp the long-term benefits of collaboration.
Then there are the different metrics used by sales and marketing functions. Sales’ quotas are brutally black and white – salespeople either hit their target or they don’t. Marketers’ metrics are equally brutal, but for a different reason. They are tasked with attracting buyers through brand recognition, thought leadership, demonstrated expertise, and sales lead generation campaigns. These objectives are much less tangible than revenue dollars and they are harder to measure. So the marketers’ pain comes not so much from the imposed pressure put on sales – stemming from the relentless pursuit of sales results – as from the idea that proving results is much harder for marketers than it is for salespeople.
The sad fact is, when sellers and marketers are asked to collaborate, it’s just too hard in the face of daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly sales target pressures. In reality, it is far easier for people to pay lip service instead of embracing collaborative action.
Which brings us back to the subject of mindset. How do we create a mindset that allows us to operationalize interdepartmental collaboration?
Step #1: Acknowledge that we can no longer afford any disconnects between the traditional sales and marketing functions. We all need a good dose of “Smarketing” in order to become more nimble, innovative and, most of all, flexible to embrace “Customer Experience” as our key competitive differentiator.
Step #2: Next, we need to start dismantling the old silo structures and learn to work together in cross-functional teams and multi-functional task forces. These are not permanent fixtures; rather, they come together to achieve a specific objective, such as winning over a major account or delivering a significant product launch, and then disperse again when the task is achieved. Then a new team may form and the cycle can start again in another area or with another task ahead.
Step #3: Then there is the technology aspect. How many organizations have poured millions of dollars into CRM and other business technology, only to find that, despite the vendors’ ambitious claims, the take-up of the technology by the users remains very poor and the promised business benefits never appear? We need to see technology for what it is – an enabler of our people, not some sort of panacea. Yes, business technology can make collaboration easier, feedback more constructive, and communication more frequent, but all this can only happen after the people have agreed that they want to work together and how they want to work together.
In the end, it all must come down to leadership. Will you be brave enough to look beyond the short term, break down operational silos, and open up people’s collaborative mindsets?