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Does The Right Hand Know What The Left Hand Is Doing?

by David Brock on December 9th, 2020

It’s the end of the fiscal year for many. Simultaneously, sales organizations are scrambling to close deals and make this year’s number. At the same time, they are putting the finishing touches on next year’s plans.

I get asked to sit in on a lot of these plan reviews. I see product management present reviews on new product announcements/plans for the coming year. Marketing presents their programs and plans. They talk about demand gen plans and goals. Sales presents their plans, what they are going to do to achieve their numbers.

Individually, they are often brilliant (OK, maybe I’m being a little generous.) But, taken together, they are often disastrous.

The problem is, too often, they have been developed independently and don’t interlock. Let’s look at some examples.

A few years ago, I participated in a series of reviews. Product management had an exciting new year. They had plans to launch a series of new products, which they expected to contribute to a significant revenue growth for the company. But when we reviewed marketing’s and sales’ plans, they didn’t have anything in those plans to support the launch and ramping of the products. They hadn’t considered: What programs do we need to put in place, what resources do we need to assign, what was the impact to both spending and revenue forecasts? Because of this disconnect, product management may have missed their goals–and ultimately killed some critical products. Or sales could have achieved so much more than they had expected (or make it easier to achieve the goals they had committed to.).

Too often, I see marketing make investments that are decoupled with what sales needs. The most common are around demand gen. Usually marketing does something like, “We are investing in these programs that will created these MQLs/SQLs….” Yet sales has a plan based on an assumption of a certain results from demand gen programs that was different. So marketing may have achieved their goals, but sales probably wouldn’t.

Today, I sat on a review. Individually, each group had done a great job. Channel management created programs to drive a certain volume of leads through the channel. They had really upped their game on the volume and quality of leads they were going to drive from the channel. They were and should have been proud of the work they had done.

The problem was, sales independently was also upping their game. They were looking to increase the average deal value. Their plan and focus was based on opportunities that had more than twice the average deal value of each lead coming through the channel.

Both groups had done outstanding jobs, but collectively, the plan collapsed. Field sales was going to achieve their goals, but needed leads through the channel that at twice the average value they had been doing.

Both had plans that achieved their goals, independently, but when viewed together, the didn’t enable the organization to achieve their overall goals.

The good news, recognizing this disconnect caused the teams to rework their plans to get them into alignment.

No function in the organization exists as an independent silo–though we tend to act that way. Each has dependencies on the other. We must be aligned in our goals–not just to make our individual goals–but to make sure that by doing so, those organizations that depend on us can make their goals.

We do this most effectively by eliminating our silos, working across the organization for our common purposes.

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One Comment
  1. Brian MacIver permalink

    The sound of one hand clapping.
    When Sales & Marketing can’t, won’t or don’t work together.

    Pehaps the best metaphor is that of a TWO Horse Chariot:

    If one horse pulls harder runs faster,
    the chariot just goes round in circles.

    Match your horses, Best wishes for 2021.

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