Harnessing the power of the collective team to create alignment
Sales and marketing alignment is a fundamental component of Account Based Selling (ABS). ABS is rooted in the premise that sales and marketing teams must be aligned. But what exactly does “aligned” mean?
In a nutshell, it means everyone is focused on and working toward achieving the same goals. There is no confusion. The end result as well as all the steps to get there are crystal clear to everyone.
As long-time practitioners of ABS, ML has found that cross-functional communication and collaboration are key to creating alignment. It seems obvious, but we have seen many sales efforts fail because teams think that they are aligned and communicating effectively, when in fact they are not. This is typically not discovered until a sales program is well down the path to failure… long after something could have been done to correct issues.
Cross-functional communication and collaboration will not only impact the success of your sales programs but can also create value across the broader organization. This additional value is predominantly driven by analyzing the data and market intelligence, and then sharing that information across the team. There are lots of applications available to help you collect and then use your data to make better informed decisions and we speak about this more in our blog Data and the Art of the Pivot.
Meetings and Technology to Drive Alignment
Alignment is best achieved by keeping a regular cadence of meetings that brings the right members of cross-functional teams together and making each meeting a priority. The right attendees should represent sales and marketing as well as other stakeholders who can offer relevant perspective. Consider customer service, product development, operations – any functional area of the business where the voice of the customer can be heard. Each participant should be tasked with bringing insight to the meeting that is focused on solving a problem or creating positive learnings and actions.
Technology can be a big facilitator to these conversations, especially if your team members aren’t all under one roof. We all got a little more comfortable using video conferencing applications like Zoom this last year and Microsoft Teams has new functionality to make their industry leading communication platform even stronger.
Make these action-driven meetings a priority.
When we are busy, it can be easy to consider pushing internal meetings off. Don’t give in to the temptation. You’ll save more time in the long run.
At ML, we create communication and collaboration by integrating what we call The Diamond Approach into our ABS program. The Diamond Approach ties together the four key areas we consider crucial to a successful revenue generation program. The leaders of each diamond cornerstone meet weekly. During these meetings, we share learnings about what is working and what isn’t. These are opportunities to share data and intel that drives brainstorming for solutions, as well as sharing best practices that can be applied across all of our active account programs.
The Diamond Approach framework incorporates:
- Strategy. Focuses on GOALS.
Our Client Services team is held accountable to achieving the goals on every active account program. Their role in the Diamond meeting is to bring to the forefront any account that is underperforming and discuss possibilities for a shift in strategy.
- Reporting. Focuses on the DATA.
Our Account Operations team looks at the metrics, those quantifiable measures that tell us how a program is performing. They look for gaps and dig deeper into the data to identify potentially underlying causes of both high and low performance.
- Execution. Focuses on the INTEL.
Our Specialist team collects market intel from every interaction. We analyze this information in aggregate to identify trends that we can use to optimize performance.
- Messaging. Focuses on the market REACTION.
We do a lot of A/B testing to help us understand which messaging resonates best with an audience. Once we see how the market is reacting, we can leverage this information to help the team focus interactions on subject matter that is getting the most engagement.
Think about how this Diamond approach might apply in your organization. What are the four cornerstones that are most critical to your success? Once you nail down the four, it becomes easier to identify who should be held accountable for each and how to best structure a meeting that will achieve productive collaboration.
Meetings Bloody Meetings
John Cleese may have recorded his famous Meetings Bloody Meetings video in 1976 but the premise is as true today as it was then. Meetings must have direction and focus if they are to be productive.
Everyone’s time is valuable and limited so make sure the time you spend together is as effective as possible. John’s list is a little longer but in ML’s experience these are the big three best practices every good meeting includes:
- Have a meeting owner responsible for the agenda (yes, have one of these too) and for keeping everyone on track. Don’t let the meeting stray from its purpose.
- Come prepared. As a meeting invitee, make sure you spend time preparing. Review the agenda and do your prework if any has been provided.
- Participate! Effective communication and collaboration are only achieved when everyone participates.
On the road to building an effective selling program, take a team approach that creates the collaboration and communication that true sales and marketing alignment requires. If you do, great things will happen!
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