We have become a nation of isolation. COVID-19 taught everyone how to use technology to carry on safely. Though Zoom, Teams, and other tools have made communication more efficient, we’ve never felt more distant from our colleagues.
Through this “together, but apart” mindset, many businesses feel pressured to enable remote work and grant greater autonomy. As a CEO trying to manage in this environment, it’s tempting -- in the spirit of efficiency – to let everyone stay focused on their “swim lane” and not encourage complex collaboration between divisions.
But, if you are managing your business as a set of silos, you’re, in fact, creating inefficiencies that could ultimately threaten your enterprise. It’s an unnecessary blind spot on the journey to go-to-market success.
In this blog series on blind spots, we’ve helped dispel the types of beliefs that get in the way of go-to-market success. But perhaps this last blog is the most important in the series, for one critical reason: If you do not ensure cross-department coordination between marketing, sales, finance, and product – at all stages in product and market development – all the work you’ve done to get to know your customer, competition, and marketplace might be for naught.
Here's why: If, for example, the product team gets too far into development, there may be an inability to pivot if customer feedback or competitor moves are evaluated too late. The resulting rework/rewrite of the product will cost you valuable time to the market.
Also, let’s say sales is not aligned with marketing on the ideal customer profile and customer journey. This can lead to inappropriate and ineffective targeting and messaging, a lack of thorough understanding of the use case by the intended market, anemic sales, and marketing efforts that fall flat.
And, if finance does not understand marketing goals and objectives or alignment on metrics, hurdle rates and expectations may not be established properly. This can lead to friction, lack of trust, and a slowing of the go-to-market budgeting process which can scuttle demand-gen efforts before they have the chance to be proven.
Though marketing, in theory, could develop campaigns and execute them without sales and product help, I believe the confluence of marketing and key departments drive better outcomes:1. Intersections with product, which leads to
It’s my view that marketing needs to take the initiative on developing relationships with leadership in other areas. Marketers are trained, and well positioned, to understand the company’s potential and how marketing activities can support growth.
Through this process, if marketing encounters insights that will impact another area, such as product or sales improvements based on customer or prospect insights, they can present recommendations via hypotheses and present potential solutions in the form of support.
Here’s a way to present findings in a way that encourages collaboration:
“Based on customer observation (facts), I wonder whether (proposed initiative or changes) would resonate? I would be happy to add any questions you have to our next survey”
“I’m getting feedback that (facts), and I wonder whether it might help to (proposed initiative or changes)? Let me know what I can do to help.”
For this approach to be successful, it’s ideal for the CEO to create transparency and promote the type of leadership dynamics that can help to build bridges. If you don’t encourage marketing’s interaction with other leadership, you’re handicapping the function. A strong GTM cannot be achieved or executed without strong alignment among the leadership team. And if marketing cannot forge these relationships on their own, the CEO ends up being the one to mediate, which is not usually the best use of her/his time.
Wouldn’t you rather be an orchestrator than a referee?
With this type of collaborative atmosphere in place, if marketing runs into roadblocks and requires the support of sales and product to execute a pivot, they’ll have well-formed relationships and cross-functional understanding to lean on, and a greater atmosphere in which to jointly address these challenges with short- and long-term solutions.
One last step to eliminating this blind spot – you’ll want to make sure you have the type of senior marketing leadership in place to execute. They can fully embed with your leadership team -- not just do a bunch of analysis, create a bunch of recommendations, and leave. A fractional CMO is a budget-friendly way to invest in an overarching game plan to win that transcends marketing tactics, from someone who expects to be invested in and embedded into your business like an employee would be expected to.
I hope this blog series has been helpful to you as you think about how best to eliminate the most common challenges that keep CEOs at arm’s length from market success.
If a seasoned Chief Outsiders CMO can be of service to you as you consider implementing these insights within your company, please reach out.
In case you missed the first four blogs in the series: