A 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?
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.
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.