How to Align Product, Marketing and Sales Goals


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In every tech company, there is, at some point, the challenge that not all departments get what they want. Product guys want to innovate, marketing guys want visibility and a competitive edge, and sales guys want to follow the money.

Looking at statistics gathered from various sources such as Salesforce, McKinsey and others: 86% of employees and leaders cite a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures, and 97% of employees and leaders believe that the lack of alignment within a team has an impact on the outcome of a task or project. Additionally, while about 75% of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as “very important,” only 18% of employees get communication ratings in their performance reviews. And, to conclude, according to McKinsey, knowledge workers spend an average of 14% of their workweek communicating and collaborating internally.

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Around the last quarter of each year, companies start planning for next year’s goals, budgets, and roadmaps. Often times changes in business strategy require refinement, sometimes reorganization of structures, affecting PnL ownership, GTM management, product decision making process, marketing and sales. During these times, an organization becomes more fragile, the weight rests on the leaders of these new teams, and the alignment and collaboration between them.

We can all agree that the best way to build relationships is to have a common goal. To date, we note that a few organizations are very good at working together and achieving goals. Typically, they follow a customer-centric strategy, which establishes the best foundation between all roles: product managers aim for the best customer experience, marketing focuses on the best value proposition and messaging, and salespeople focus on the best customer experience. strive to satisfy customers.

  • What are some organizations doing well and others not?
  • Why is a business-to-business agenda so essential to grow a business?
  • How to align strategies, goals and plans for the future?

Getting it right – implementing the strategy

Organizations like Amazon and Google invest their efforts to deeply understand their customers, who are the engines of their growth and their GTM strategy. This focus encourages product, sales and marketing teams to work together on product launches, pricing, positioning and customer journey design. Common goals allow people to spend time communicating and collaborating, increasing innovation and better workflows.

But other organizations report recurring lags between marketing and sales, and between product and marketing. It sounds anecdotal, but the argument “the sales team complains of bad leads and (the) marketing team complains of low close rates” is known to many, often the result of conflicting strategies and unclear objectives. Other arguments may relate to quality control and authority. For example, production may want to slow down to make a better quality product, to reduce returns and customer complaints, while marketing insists that production should always be at full capacity. In these situations, general management normally intervenes to bring clarity, balance between quality and cost, and refocus the teams.

Aligned agendas – understanding dependencies

Harvard Business Review (HBR) succinctly describes co-dependencies “Product designers learned years ago that they would save time and money if they consulted with their manufacturing colleagues rather than just throwing in new ones. over the wall designs. The two functions realized that it was not enough to coexist, not when they could work together to create value for the company and for customers. You would think that the marketing and sales teams, whose work is also deeply interconnected, would have discovered something similar. “

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I started my career as a market analyst, spent 15 years leading marketing organizations, with a few years in between, and lately I’ve been working with a product hat again. In conversations with marketing and tech network peers about best practices and repeated mistakes, we all agree with HBR that the marketing function takes different forms in different businesses, at different stages of the lifecycle. of products, which can deeply affect the relationship between marketing, sales and product.

While understanding that the marketing function must constantly reflect and promote the needs of the business, and cannot be static, the idea is to create parameters for disciplined communication and to define joint assignments between cockpit departments ( sales and products), when a customer-centric strategy is not in place.

Up and forward – next steps

So we mean “a great end-to-end customer experience is becoming an expectation of customers today, and the only way to achieve that is to ensure close alignment between the marketing and product teams” – and sales. The reality, however, is that people tend to their daily to-do lists, meeting specific agendas to serve their managers.

Chung-Jen Chen’s research published in IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management has shown that products developed by cross-functional teams perform better in the marketplace than others. Additional research by Abbie Griffin and John R. Hauser published in The Journal of Product Innovation Management showed that the critical factor in the ultimate success or failure of a product was the involvement of the marketing team in the research. and development during the new product development process.

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This is the time of year for organizations to align with mutual results and improve their modus operandi. An opportunity to discuss and formalize work processes, to guide managers on improving day-to-day collaboration and to communicate an overview. In my experience, I have had the privilege of working for organizations that promote such a culture. Indeed, aligned strategies lead to higher ROI and collaboration, continuous feedback between teams improves understanding of market and customers; the two keys to healthy relationships between product, marketing and sales.

Wrap it up

Having a customer-centric business is the new normal and placing the customer at the center of the business’s activities brings the collaborative approach implied by customer-centricity.

For a business to succeed and continue to grow, now more than ever, it will rely on cross-functional teams, the alignment of people and their understanding of their contribution to business goals and strategy.

Football coaches were right years ago. The secret sauce for a winning strategy and team: confidence, program, practice, communication and fun. So let’s make sure we define our common goals and plans, before we bring Messi and Ronaldo into the game.

About William G.

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