Is Your Organization a Selling Machine, or a 1974 AMC Hornet?

I’ll never forget my second car. My first car was memorable, too – it was a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda that threw a rod while at high speed on the freeway as its final act of automotive defiance. But my second car I stuck with, and fixed myself, and learned a valuable lesson.AMC Hornet, business selling machine? Car No. 2 was a 1974 AMC Hornet – a sporty hatchback with a big V8 engine. Having been the local AMC-sponsored race car, the thing no longer wore numbers but still sported two big black stripes bordered by orange pinstripes down the hood and over the roof. The rear windows featured black louvers, and the interior had screw holes into which the roll cage could be fastened. The Hornet’s chief characteristic, however, was its spectacular mechanical unreliability. It leaked oil like the Exxon Valdez, and everything else under the hood seemed to break itself at one time or another. The distributor cap ripped apart one day; the water pump and starter stripped their gears or burned out; various solenoids and other electrical components fizzled and rendered the car lifeless, and most memorably, the timing chain cover – a heavy, cast metal item below the engine – cracked in half and took out the cooling with it. I had a troubled relationship with the Hornet, and as is the case in too many such relationships, I didn’t know when to let go. I fixed the darned thing repeatedly, learning a lot about cars and about AMCs in particular. As the weird fourth major car brand, AMC made the major components of its own vehicles, but most of the other parts were sourced from other companies. The water pump might be a GM design, the water pump a bit of MOPAR gear, the electrical system from Ford, and there were even some Japanese bits in there as well. Going to the auto parts store involved cross-referencing components to reveal their actual origins. Then, they’d be shoehorned into the Hornet, interfacing with the other parts as best as I could make them. The Hornet is, in its own way, a lot like the sales and marketing infrastructures of many businesses: a collection of parts from myriad manufacturers that may or may not work together well. And they probably break with a frustrating frequency. Businesses face that problem not because the people who built their sales and marketing infrastructures wanted to create a hodge-podge of solutions that were hard to manage – they did it because they needed to solve problems. The term “best of breed” was often applied to such a set of solutions – each was the best option for the single problem that caused sufficient pain to create internal demand for a fix. And while, individually, they fixed today’s problems, they set up tomorrow’s problems in the process by being hard to integrate and creating data silos between sales and marketing, silos that supposedly were broken down during the first part of the CRM era. The cloud has helped solve these sorts of problems faster – and at the same time, helped introduce more disparate parts into sales and marketing organizations. With less barrier to entry, and no need for IT to be involved, these solutions can be deployed easily enough. But when there’s a movement to make operations more efficient – which almost by definition means a greater sharing of data – it’s nearly always IT that’s burdened with the task of getting disparate solutions to communicate. That would have been easy had IT been involved early on, but it’s not so easy when the software engine that drives sales and marketing has an AMC-like collection of tools running it. Even when you have a suite of software, it’s going to interface with some disparate parts – ERP, CRM, finance and so on. But generations of smart IT directors sought to minimize the number of variables they had to solve for. Sales and marketing broke that model and introduced complexity that doesn’t just drive IT directors nuts – it makes it much harder for sales and marketing people to do their jobs. The latest edition of our Sales and Marketing Sentiment Study (due out shortly – watch this space) revealed that, by all measures, sales and marketing alignment is getting worse, not better. The number of respondents who said their organizations were fully aligned plummeted from 15.71 percent in 2015 to 9.21 percent in 2016. Sentiment about alignment slid particularly notably among sales pros. In 2015, 14.42 percent of sales pros said their organizations were fully aligned. A year later, “fully aligned” had dropped to 5.93 percent, while “somewhat aligned” had bulged to 60.17 percent This is not the result of a lack of software, or a lack of desire by sales organizations to get better aligned, or even a lack of best practices for reorganizing sales and marketing for better alignment. It’s the product of a focus on short-term results at the expense of planning for long-term success. When businesses see a hole in their sales and marketing processes and plug it with yet another solution from yet another vendor, which may or may not interface well with existing and future solutions, today’s solution may be fixed but next week’s problem becomes ever more intractable. How do you avoid this? A smart idea is to look at a suite – not so you can throw away all of your existing software investment, but so you can make a move today that sets up future moves that build toward a much more integrated software ecosystem later. For example, if your problem is compensation management today, plugging the hole with a solution that’s part of a suite sets you up for additional components – like CPQ, CLM or sales enablement – to solve future problems without introducing new ones. In fact, it sets you up for better results and will ultimately consume less IT time. If I could have swapped my AMC’s mechanical components for parts from a single vendor that worked well together, I would have done it. Making a similar swap with your sales and marketing software, however, is a possibility and is likely to result in a sales and marketing organization with more horsepower than my old Hornet! Learn how a suite approach – like CallidusCloud’s Lead to Money – can accelerate the performance of your sales and marketing organization. Read our Lead to Money: Step by Step Guide today!

By Chris Bucholtz | March 3rd, 2016 | Lead to Money

About the Author: Chris Bucholtz

Chris Bucholtz

Chris Bucholtz is the content marketing director at CallidusCloud and writes on a host of topics, including sales, marketing and customer experience. The former editor of InsideCRM, his weekly column has run in CRM Buyer since 2009. When he's not pondering ways to acquire and keep customers, Chris is also an avid builder of scale model airplanes.