An interim CEO, CMO or CSO charged with transforming a company’s revenue performance is going to assess how well aligned the marketing and sales functions are to each other and to the market. Misalignment between Sales and Marketing is a common cause of under-performance and inefficiency, after all.
Identifying that misalignment exists within the organization is relatively easy and even can be measured via an Alignment Index . However, solving the problem long term has proven very difficult. An interim executive with revenue responsibility is likely on point to “fix it” and fix it quick.
The results of a poll on this topic are enlightening even though the poll is not statistically representative. Responses in the poll suggest that the lack of B2B marketing skills within the Marketing department are the leading obstacle to achieving long-lasting alignment with Sales.
The poll asked the question, “What is the biggest obstacle to successfully aligning Marketing and Sales long term?” The choices given are:
- Culture–lack of commitment and trust
- Technology–lack of CRM, etc.
- Process–lack of a shared action plan
- Funnel–lack of funnel definitions, roles
- Skills–lack of the right skills in Marketing
Lack of the right skills within the Marketing organization has received 50% of the responses thus far. Lack of commitment and trust within Marketing and Sales is second most popular choice having been selected by 35% of the respondents. Lack of agreement to funnel stage definitions and roles is third most common obstacle to alignment with 14% of respondents.
My experience as consultant and interim executive in scores of B2B companies over past nine years validates this finding. The talented, eager, creative people in Marketing lack critical know-how to be strong strategic and tactical partners with Sales. The type of B2B marketing skills necessary for success in today’s companies are not taught in most Universities.
The required skills and best practices don’t always come to Marketers from years on the job if careers are spent in unsophisticated companies without strong marketing leadership.
The poll results suggest that companies wishing to align Marketing and Sales are smart to first invest in black-belt level of B2B marketing training for their Marketing teams.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Persistent networking online and off. Good tips for interim executives http://ow.ly/1AeCy .
I like how this article in Washington Post encourages one to have a specific networking plan and goals that involve in-person networking and social media. Good advice for interims looking for their next gig, or for folks looking for a full-time job.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
I know many of my readers are interim managers or folks considering interim as the next career move. Therefore I’m bringing to your attention a webinar on April 13 sponsored by the Interim Association.
How to Market Yourself as an Interim Executive
- The concept and role of personal branding
- How to develop your own personal brand
- The role of social media in the management of personal brands
- Marketing tools to distinguish a Brand Called You
You can get info on the webinar and the association at www.interimassociation.org
I can’t attest to the quality of the program or the value of the Interim Association. I can tell you they put a drive for membership ahead of common sense. Case in point: I offered to them the rights to resell (and make money on) my book, “Leadership On Demand: How Smart CEO’s Tap Interim Management to Drive Revenue” . They wouldn’t consider carrying the book unless I joined the association.
I’m surprised the association directors aren’t choosing to provide the best resources to their members and seek to generate revenue from as many sources as possible.
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
As a consultant and interim marketing executive I am exposed to a variety of business and organizational situations every year. Without fail when attempting to transform the performance of the marketing and sales team with best practices I run into a stiff headwind blowing through the hallways and between the cubicles.
Unfortunately I know of more than one case where investments were made in research, training and technology only to have the initiative stall out before the benefits could be realized.
The number one reason best practices fail in sales and marketing is because the environment is un-trusting, uncooperative, passive-aggressive, caustic, and in some cases even poisonous.
Recognize the place?
The work environment within sales and marketing in so many companies has taken on these negative characteristics slowly over time. Unfortunately it is cumulative. People in the organization have memories. Stories are passed from old hires to new hires. The negativity self-fulfills.
In short, our sales and marketing organization—the one we depend on for life-giving revenue today and in the future—is effectively working in the past. Instead of working together in every way with a shared vision of performance, the people in these departments stumble about with eyes locked onto the rear view mirror.
Best practices can’t be expected to generate breakthrough performance in sales and marketing if the people are carrying around negative baggage—both personal and organizational– from the past.
I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts and actual examples (please keep company names out of your posts)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
As an interim marketing executive I consider myself a part of the revenue-generation team of my clients. In this role, together with the sales executive, I frequently have conversations with the company CFO about the sales forecast and resource requirements within the marketing and sales departments.
I’ve found that in companies where a sophisticated revenue funnel is in use for planning and performance management, and the CFO is very familiar with the model and its metrics, these conversations about forecast and resources are shorter, smarter, and frankly, less contentious.
On the other hand, in companies where a sophisticated funnel model is not in use and the CFO is not privy to the metrics and assumptions that drive the model . . . well, let’s just say the meetings aren’t much fun.
The revenue funnel isn’t the sole domain of sales or marketing. CFO’s should be as familiar with their company’s funnel structure and metrics as any sales executive or marketing executive. Here’s why.
- Funnel modeling tools provide the best way for marketing, finance, and sales to talk the same language during planning and reporting.
- The variables of the funnel make up the actual metrics of the revenue engine. These variables are the levers and dials over which management has control.
- The funnel, over time, enables the sales forecast to be made with higher and higher degrees of accuracy.
- Requests for more resources from Marketing and Sales can in part be justified or refused based on funnel economics
CFO’s should be trained in the use of sophisticated funnel modeling tools right along side their marketing and sales colleagues.
An excellent source of this training is the FunnelAcademy(tm), which includes comprehensive training on sizing a funnel and measuring progress. It also includes the most robust funnel modeling tool I’ve ever had the pleasure to use.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
I heard it again yesterday. A person mentioned that companies who are in a “crisis” or in a “turnaround” situation should consider interim management in operations, finance, sales, or marketing. That is a true statement, but the majority of interim engagements are not in troubled companies.
Just because a company brings in an interim manager it isn’t a sign the company is in trouble.
Most interim marketing and sales executives, for instance, are engaged by a company to address one or more of these situations:
- Revenue growth has flat-lined, or is in decline. What worked in the past isn’t working now and the management team needs objective insight, new energy and different skill sets for a season to help them point the growth curve in the right direction again.
- There’s a temporary gap in leadership, gap in skill set, or gap in bandwidth that has an unacceptably high opportunity cost associated with the gap.
There should be no scarlet letter associated with the hiring of an on-demand leader. It simply means the company is very smart about how it allocates its resources.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Do you suspect that the marketing function at your company is not doing enough to help grow revenue and move the company forward? If these thoughts are in your mind don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. There exists in many B2B companies a “marketing malaise” that is a drag on company performance.
Much can be done in 3-4 months to transform the marketing function into a finely tuned and inspired machine.
I give an overview of my approach in a Flash presentation called, “Transforming the Marketing Function in B2B Companies: The Road to World-Class Performance”. View the presentation. No registration required.
Please share your comments and thoughts on the topics after you’ve seen the presentation.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Four new blogs were launched in December that you should check out and add to your RSS feeds. The initial posts indicate that these blogs will be valuable sources of tips for executives–permanent or interim. Plus, as with any blog they also provide a means to comment and link back.
http://interimvp.biz The Executive Politics Blog
http://www.interimmarketing.info/ The Executive Marketing Blog
http://interimsales.net/ The Executive Sales Blog
http://interimvptoday.com/ The Executive Productivity Blog
One of the things I like about being an interim marketing executive is the variety of assignments I am fortunate to work on each year. Not only do I work with a wide range of companies in different industries, but I’m asked to take on projects as well as interim assignments. In fact during the past few years my project to interim assignment ratio is about 2:1.
It’s not uncommon for an on-demand executive to be involved in an interim gig for one company a few days a week, and run a project for another company that occupies a day or so per week.
For the client the advantages of using an interim leader for certain project work is very clear. Interim executives are very experienced leaders with 20 years or so of duty in the field running sales or marketing organizations. They’ve been building a track record of achievement in the real world for 20 years, not holed up in a business school library.
The on-demand leader that takes on a project is a senior-level person, not a junior associate. He or she will most likely be over-qualified for the task. So what? That means its going to be done right and with a level of insight and objectivity that’s hard to find.
So, for your next important project in marketing or sales that requires some outside assistance, ask an interim manager for a proposal and see how it compares to the usual suspects you ordinarily use.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
In light of the global economic chaos smart CEO’s recognize that this is actually an excellent time to assess and tune every aspect of the company’s revenue engine. “Business as usual” just won’t cut it because we’re not facing an “as usual” market. The time is right for an interim executive, the master mechanic of a sputtering revenue engine.
Fresh ideas, complete honesty, and an absence of bias is required to conduct an insightful audit of the company’s revenue engine—the marketing and sales functions that lead to revenue generation.
This is yet another excellent scenario for using interim managers. Frankly, only an outsider can provide the unbiased perspective necessary for an accurate assessment of the inner workings of the revenue engine. Also, only a well-seasoned executive with strategic and tactical or operational experience in marketing and sales has the in-depth experience that an assessment requires.
Here’s what one typical interim engagement might look like if aimed at assessing the effectiveness of a company’s revenue engine and realigning it for achieving 2009 revenue targets. This engagement could be lead by a VP or C-level interim marketing executive with back up from a VP-level interim sales executive (or switch the lead and backup roles).
- Assess characteristics and capabilities of the sales force and channel partners. Define the ideal set of characteristics needed for success over the next 12-18 months and make recommendations how to align the organization accordingly.
- Assess the compensation strategy and plan. Revise as necessary.
- Assess the opportunity pipeline. Just how real is the forecast? Revisit and adjust the opportunity scoring methodology—remember this isn’t business as usual.
- Revisit and assess if the stages of the pipeline are well defined in light of today’s business climate and how your customers are purchasing. Is a CRM system being used properly?
- Evaluate if marketing and sales strategies and tactics and properly aligned to each other and to the pipeline.
- Assess every component of the marketing plan, specifically the positioning strategy and all lead generation activities. Are the right investments being made? Will the marketing activities be sufficient to generate the required leads?
- What metrics are being used to measure marketing and sales? Are these the right metrics or are there others that better indicate contribution to company objectives?
- Conduct an analysis of the competitive landscape. A formal SWOT analysis is good, but at least conduct an analysis of positioning, messaging, and direction. How does the company compare?
- Review all customer satisfaction surveys, or if none exist conduct a survey that includes key question for Net Promoter Score.
- Assess management. Are the right people in key roles within Marketing and Sales? What skills are missing that should be added via training or outsourcing?
No doubt the list could include 20 steps or more. It wouldn’t be difficult to create another list of 10 steps with completely different activities. However, I’ve seen that if these areas are evaluated and tuned to the realities of the marketplace by un-biased, seasoned executives, the company’s revenues will jump.
In this example scenario the two interim executives assigned to the engagement could conduct the assessment and make the majority of changes in about 3 months.
There are three primary benefits to engaging interim managers for this work:
- Unbiased, objective counsel from senior executives.
- They drive the assessment and the action to make necessary changes.
- They are focused on the engagement’s objectives while the existing management team keeps their eyes on the day-to-day operations.
Imagine: A revenue tune-up in 3 months. No loaner car required.
Want to learn more about the effective use of interim management in marketing and sales? Preview the book, Leadership On Demand: How Smart CEO’s Tap Interim Managment To Drive RevenueRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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