How_CEOs_Manage_Their_Marketing_and_Sales_LeadersA year has passed and a new product is ready to launch. As the Chief Executive Officer, you feel proud of the accomplishment. Your company has potential to emerge as a market leader. You share the progress with your marketing and sales executives in your quarterly meeting. Their blank stares reveal a lack of buy-in.

 

Here’s why. A trade journal ad touting last year’s product just hit the market. Prior media buys are still circulating. Staff has tickets in hand to attend a leading trade show. The costs will burn up much of the marketing budget. Leads will come in and keep the sales team busy on old products.

 

The marketing and sales leaders give careful thought and make projections. They can get on board after the next quarter or two. Your new product will be aging by that time. Word is the competition is already in position to steal market share.

 

What went wrong and how do you change course?

 

Cascading Goals

A company’s departments are interlinking segments when effectively managed. A lack of focused communication isolates department heads. They develop their own goals and end up following their own agenda.

 

Marketing makes plans to reach readers in certain publications. The newest and coolest contest is set to release via social media. Sales can produce the number of sales calls made daily, weekly, or monthly. If neither is linked to the corporate goals then a misalignment occurs.

 

Corporate strategy includes improving results in a subset of revenue, profit, and market share goals. Create a hierarchy of key goals. Communicate them on regular intervals so departments will move in alignment. This develops corporate buy-in and creates marketing activities that support sales strategies.

 

Remind your leaders that a strategic link exists between their departments. A customer triggers this flow of activity and what becomes cascading goals. The following list shows how the separate functions relate to the customer experience:

 

  • Market: Is it customer-specific? Research uncovers the customer’s needs and the existing market or demand.

     

 

  • Product/Service: What satisfies the market? A solution is made based on what customers want.

     

 

  • Marketing: What is the value to the market? Positioning gets the customer’s attention.

     

 

  • Sales: Connecting the market to corporate offering. The relationship is nurtured and developed.

     

 

  • Operations/Customer Service: Successful delivery and use. The sale is truly completed when the customer uses and believes in the solution.

     

 

A properly aligned organization creates an excellent customer experience. Departments don’t operate in isolation but set goals in relation to each other. This increases shareholder value as described in Are Your Corporate and Sales Strategies Aligned?

 

Target the Metrics and Find the Rhythm

Let’s dig deeper. Marketing and sales leaders often measure too many outcomes. The CEO must align them with the corporate strategy to make meaningful measurements.

 

Only the CEO can scan the horizon of the whole company. The CMO may not know how her work contributes to the EBITA. The sales leader may be sifting through the number of new customers. Quarterly meetings are too infrequent to track what’s important.

 

Meet more often like weekly or monthly to develop an effective cadence. Publish the metrics once a month to show the entire company. This is strategic communication as noted in our post Are My People Aligned Across Our Key Strategic Areas?

 

We help CEOs make changes to better manage leadership. Our Change Management Readiness Assessment tool is useful for implementing change.

 

Hands On

The CEO must take hands-on management responsibility of the marketing and sales leader. Problems that occur are usually process challenges but people get blamed and replaced. A lack of effort isn’t the error. Misdirection happens by putting energy into the wrong things. You need to be the coach and pull the leaders into alignment.

 

Practical management advice is available for you through our SBI podcasts. We cover real-life issues based on our experience of working with CEOs to build workflows and mine data for best practices.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Greg Alexander

Leads the firm's focus on the CEO’s role in accelerating revenue growth by getting the product team, the marketing department, and the sales organization into strategic alignment.
Learn more about Greg Alexander >

Greg is the host of The SBI Podcast, the most listened to sales and marketing podcast on the internet.

 

He is the host of SBI TV, a monthly television program broadcast on the internet featuring top B2B sales and marketing leader sharing their strategies to grow revenues.

 

Greg is the Editor-in-Chief of The SBI Magazine, the leading B2B publication focused on sales and marketing effectiveness.

 

He is the author of two critically acclaimed books Topgrading for Sales and Making the Number.

 

Greg has authored over 100 articles on SBI’s award winning blog, The SBI Blog.

 

He graduated from The University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BA in English and received his MBA from Georgia Tech.

 

Video:

 

Transforming the Sales Organization inside Fortune 500 Companies

Greg Alexander and John Gleason, Chief Sales Officer of Ryder, talk about the unique challenges of transforming a sales team inside of very large enterprises.

 

A Better Way to Structure Your Sales Force

Greg Alexander and Tony Capucille, Chief Sales Officer at Heartland Payment Systems, discuss the pros and cons of the 7 B2B sales organizational models.

 

Build a team of A Players Inside the Sales Organization

Greg Alexander and Todd Cione, Chief Revenue Officer at Rackspace, talk about hiring, onboarding, and developing exceptional sales talent.

 

Articles

 

Fill Every Role on Your Team with an A Player

In this article, Greg Alexander makes the case for applying the TopGrading methodology to the sales team, and outlines how to do so.

 

What CEOs Need to Know About Their Marketing Strategies

In this article, Greg Alexander and Rashid Skaf, CEO of AMX, discuss the role the CEO plays in crafting a company’s marketing strategy.

 

What CEOs are Looking for in a Sales Leader

In this article, Greg Alexander and George Norton, leader of Heidrick & Struggles Chief Sales Officer practice, discuss what CEOs need in the chief sales officer role.

Read full bio >