In the Wake of Wave: How Technology Can Help – and Hurt - Sales and Marketing Alignment
It’s hard to leave Dreamforce and not be energized. From the concerts to the keynoters to the sessions, Salesoforce.com does a great job of pumping up its audience – not just with excitement and energy, but with information and inspiration that allows that energy to translate into action once attendees go back to their real jobs. One of the big announcements at Dreamforce was the not-so-secret arrival of Wave, the key component of Salesforce’s Analytics Cloud. Jeff Kaplan of ThinkStrategies penned a cogent analysis of Wave last week, and so Did Denis Pombriant of Beagle Research. Denis took the discussion a step farther by pointing out Salesforce’s real intentions with Wave. Sure, they’d like to unseat all the big, established analytics vendors – but their objectives are really aimed more broadly. “Salesforce wanted to deliver analytics to the hands of people on the front lines who need information to make good decisions in the moment of truth,” he writes, “and I think the company’s first offering does that.” Note that Denis does not say “deliver analytics to the hands of sales” or “marketing.” The beauty here is that analytics crosses the chasm between those departments – something we have been advocating for a long time. Whether or not it does so because of the conscious thought of Salesforce’s strategists, Wave can help close the gap between not just sales and marketing but all parts of the business that play a role in sales success. That can’t be said for much of the business software on the market today, which inadvertently fuels the misalignment of sales and marketing. Focusing on the specific problems of one constituency (sales, marketing, support) is critical for addressing the unique needs of that group – and it’s also crucial in making the sale to that group. Thus, sales has driven CRM, marketing automation has been driven by marketing and so on. In many cases, software is introduced without any thought about integration and the data it generates is silo’ed within the department that introduced it. When sales “owns” the software that drives sales and marketing “owns” the marketing automation, it naturally follows that those organizations “own” the data they generate. That makes the data one more asset the two sides battle for control over – even when sharing that data can help both sides succeed. Applications whose approach is broader – like Wave – or which are designed from the start to encourage data sharing and mutual support among sales and marketing – like the Lead to Money Suite – do the opposite. They position data as something that is easily shared, eliminating a potential point of contact and actually suggesting ways for sales and marketing to work together. The technology can only go so far – if sales and marketing are inclined to fight, they’ll find something to fight about. But if there’s a desire to improve performance by getting the two sides more aligned, technology oriented in that direction can help frame the direction of change. It’s not easy to make a strategic shift toward a more aligned business while managing the tactical day-to-day activities of selling. Few organizations can permit sales and marketing to take a week off from their regular jobs to re-set processes and conduct planning for greater collaboration. But picking technology that helps the process rather than hindering it is a good way to get the ball rolling. Want to read more about how to better align sales and marketing? Check out this Aberdeen report on alignment best practices.
Chris Bucholtz | October 22nd, 2014