One of the services that KEXINO offers to start-ups and SMEs is something that we term “Business Process Alignment” with regards to a company’s marketing and sales efforts. I’ll admit that it sounds a bit “MBA-speak”, but bear with me for a second.
An all-too common business problem that we see (and not just with start-ups and smaller businesses) is that there are too many cooks in the kitchen where strategy is concerned. What do I mean? Well, try a little experiment: Speak to a company’s CEO, Marketing Director and Sales Director and ask them two questions:
- What’s your business value? What customer problem(s) are you solving?
- How to do see your company growing in the next 2/3 years?
Having posed these questions to these three key people, ten will get you five that you’ll get three completely different answers. That’s a problem. A big problem.
That’s what we mean by Business Process Alignment. Simplified, it’s having all the various corporate departments pushing for the same goal. Singing from the same hymn sheet, if you will.
Of course putting together clear, coherent marketing and sales strategies that everyone can buy into is one thing. Rolling it out is quite another. Many times connecting “how” your people sell your product or service with “what” your business wants to achieve are seen as being at polar opposites. Everyone thinks that they’re right – hence the “too many cooks” analogy.
Here are some tips in aligning Marketing with Sales:
Understand The External Factors That Influence The Business
These include the industry that you compete in, the market segments that you choose to play in,and the nature of the customers who are in those segments. The value of pretty much any business that you care to mention is made (or broken) out there in the marketplace. It’s not decided in a conference room, or at a sales meeting.
Based upon the factors that you’ve identified above, determine the appropriate sales tasks
What do your sales people need to be good at, to be able to deliver value to your customers? If you’re like most companies, you probably haven’t got a clue as to the answer to that question.
If you’re like most companies you turn to your salespeople and say “This is what we make. This is what it does. Now get out there and sell a bunch of them.” Selling that way may have worked in the days of Mad Men, or Glengarry Glen Ross. But you’d be hard-pushed to sell that way today.
Get C-Suite Buy-In
Unless the top brass are on board, your best intentions are going to fall down like a house of cards. Their support needs to be more than just pom-pom waving, however. They need to get their hands dirty. If your senior management haven’t spoken with customers face-to-face for some time, then get them out there. They need to learn at first hand who’s buying, why they’re buying, why they’re not buying, and so on.
Many a marketing strategy has failed because the plan is not based upon what salespeople are doing. Doesn’t it make more sense to develop a strategy based around what goes on in the field? Today, adopting a “spray-and-pray” approach to anything in your business – whether it be sales, marketing, customer service, communications or whatever – effectively spreads competencies too thinly. The company ends-up being “pretty good” at a lot of things, instead of “really good” at one thing.
This is the precise opposite of what strategy should be: i.e. being excellent at things that your competitor can’t offer.