Friday, July 30, 2010

Is a failure to integrate inhibiting your success?

A couple of weeks ago, the results from the 2010 Miller Heiman Sales Best Practices Study were released. The major take-away from the study was that companies that show high alignment between sales and marketing tend to experience greater success. These companies, for example, are more likely to see increases in qualified leads, retention percentages, and customer billings.

Finding this study was a bit serendipitous, at least from my perspective. For the last couple of weeks, I have been encountering what I consider to be a false dichotomy. "Sales or Marketing." Who is responsible for Social Media? Who is responsible for lead management? Who is responsible for guiding product managers? Sales or marketing echoes at the tale end of all of these questions. I keep feeling like I am missing something when these dichotomies are presented. Shouldn't it be sales AND marketing?

The Miller Heiman Study makes me wonder how much success companies of all sorts are missing because of a failure to integrate employees and their efforts. Marketers have been talking about integrating marketing initiatives for a long time now, but somehow, the fact has gotten lost that a company's success rests upon the ability of its people to work together, support each other, and strengthen each other.

Why does integration lead to success?

It doesn't take long to realize the advantages of integrating the efforts of everyone under a company's roof. Why, for example, would companies experience more success if their marketing and sales people were aligned?

• The marketing team could target the audience that the sales team feels has a high potential
• The sales team could report to marketing when sales or leads spike-marketing could take note of what initiatives correspond with the success
• The marketing team can deliver leads. The sales team can run with them
• The sales team can ask marketing for marketing pieces that would assist in nurturing leads and retaining customers

What if the PR department was integrated into this mix? What about the company's leadership? What happens when these bridges of communication and shared knowledge don't exist?

The Corporate Culture of Competition

I understand that in some companies, people or departments are pitted against each other. Some executives may believe that this kind of culture breeds stronger individuals or more efficient workers. In these kinds of environments, it is easy for people to equate knowledge with power. The more you share, the less power you have.

We are no longer in an era when this mode of operation is remotely beneficial.

Customers are needing service and support 24/7. Social Media is live and connected 24/7. The world is perpetually changing. Technology is perpetually changing. Is a silo culture really the best way to interact with that environment? Is it not better to come together, merging talents and experience so that changes can wash over the company like waves rather than tsunami?

It's not a black-and-white world

People seem to be really excited about dichotomies these days. In Social Media, oppositional concepts are great ways to start conversations or to get replies. The reality, however, is that the perpetual "this or that" antagonistic perspective is unhealthy and very likely detrimental for a company. If you must envelope yourself in dichotomies, how about this one:

Silos or sales?

Social  Media is not the only place where information should be shared. The process needs to start within company walls and conference rooms. You might not know exactly what benefits you'll see from this new approach. Do you know what you are losing by passing it up?

Image by Miles Pfefferle.

1 comment:

Paul Konrardy said...

The idea of actually making an enterprise collaborative and communicative seems so no-brainer to me. As you point out, however, competitive corporate cultures create chaos* of the idea.

I think you are absolutely right that not attempting to integrate sales, marketing, PR, product dev, customer service - heck, ALL aspects of an enterprise - is courting failure in this highly integrated 24/7 world.

We've long held that giving people at every level of a company a voice can only create better ideas and opportunities. Think of the effect a company could have by allowing everyone to collaboratively create a profile for their company - and then allow each employee's online personal reputation (Solis) to help market "their" company. With proper planning and reasonable controls in place, I can see only astoundingly positive things come of it.

I hate to turn this to talk about my company but there really is something good to share in our Manifesto ( You have struck an incredible cord with our beliefs and I thank you for being an evangelical about integration.


*try saying that 5 times fast ;-)