Guest Post by Stephan Liozu
Firms are composed of various departments, functions, departments, regions and divisions. It is therefore not uncommon to find information silos, mini “kingdoms” and turf perimeters leading to breakdown in communication, tensions, clan behaviors and functional ideologies. While we might expect traditional challenges to appear between R&D and marketing, finance and sales, manufacturing and quality, there might be firms with strong cultural divides between marketing and sales functions. You might think that these are commercial functions that think and act alike but, in reality, in many firms, marketing and sales suffer from the “great divide” phenomenon. That phenomenon is probably one of the most damaging and disruptive of all.
The materialization of this phenomenon lead to sales not adopting marketing programs and doing a poor job at executing marketing strategies. The sales force complains that marketing is working in a silo, is not close to the field and does not understand customer needs. Their view is that corporate marketing is disconnected and looking down on the sales force from their ivory tower. Marketing, in turn, complains that the sales force is not getting it, is not sophisticated enough and does not embrace marketing excellence program. This is not good at all. The amount of wasted resources and energy might be put to better use to satisfy customers and create value for the firm.
If you work in a company suffering from the “great divide” between sales and marketing, there is obviously a serious cultural problem in your firm. There are immediate actions needed by top leaders to solve these organizational issues. These leaders need to better understand middle management issues, accountability and alignment mismatches as well as impediments related to organizational design. They also need to identify projects where sales and marketing teams can sit in the same room and work collaboratively to build something together and put customer value at the center of the discussion. There is no better exercise than to discussion value proposition and build value models.
At ARDEX Americas, we have used LeveragePoint value-based platform for the past six months. From the design of the pilot team to now where we are building dozens of value models, we have created closer connections between the sales and marketing leadership teams. We have also connected the technical teams and the finance team to the process. This is the power of Cloud-based platforms. From anywhere and at any time, you can bring a group of professionals together and get them going to creating, innovating and generating excitement.
The LeveragePoint platform allows you to bring multi-functional teams in the 5C zone as shown in the figure below:
1) Communication: it starts with establishing communication lines between functional leaders and get the people to start talking on a regular basis. Having a communication strategy designed for the deployment of the value-based pricing platform is pivotal. That includes emails, quick phone calls for projects, team dinners, etc.
2) Once communication is established, sales, marketing, R&D, finance and accounting people can start converging towards a common goal and project success. The project manager and executive sponsors will have to make sure silos are broken and strong alignment is create to foster exchanges.
3) From convergence, people then move towards collaboration. They start using the same language, they get used to working together and start designing value models together. They create, validate, modify, test hypotheses and experiment together. Since value modeling is a new activity for everyone, they is a leveled playing field.
4) Our experience shows that from there, excellent conversations have occurred between all parties involved. Silos are broken, uncertainty starts disappearing, relationships improve and value modeling success starts happening. Candid and constructive conversations of the meaning of value, the definition of value proposition and the measurement of value drivers create shared vision, shared accomplishments and shared beliefs.
5) Shared values and successes leads to group consensus and group alignment. Marketing and sales build value models together with commonly defined and validated data and with the customer’s view being taken into account.
Obviously, integrating the dimensions of the C5 Zone in the design of the overall implementation plan of the LeveragePoint project plan is critical. The pilot project really helps to focus on this specific project which may then expand to other regular business activities. Once people connect and experience success together, they become unstoppable. The project sponsor needs to realize upfront that sales and marketing are divided and do not communicate. The LeveragePoint platform can be used as a project to bring people together and create the C5 zone environment.
Stephan Liozu is President & CEO of Ardex America Inc (www.stephanliozu.com), an innovative and high-performance building-materials company located in Pittsburgh, PA. He is also a PhD candidate in Management at Case Western Reserve University and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.