The narrative that team silos form in big organizations is true, but the impact of hidden knowledge reaches even the smallest of teams. No matter the size of the organization, the divides between Product, Marketing, Sales, and any other team can be well established and hard to break. Reinforced on all sides, it takes a tactical, well-thought plan to tear down the walls and increase interaction.
The benefits of breaking the silos come to the organization quickly and last past the quarter. With better communication, products and messages reach the market faster, sales can react quickly to change and improve their abilities, and the business sees clear revenue change. Still, how do you go about replacing a culture of silos? Investing in collaboration.
The Impact of Silos
As a business, your organization depends – survives – on value. Products and messages need to create value to prospects, creating sales cycles and leading to revenue. Without the right teams working together toward this common goal, the value chain is broken, and functions split apart. As a result, revenue becomes less predictable.
Silos form naturally, despite the size of a company. When a clear vision of value is not instilled across the teams, each may operate independently, reaching toward its own goals rather than the collective goal. After a few cycles, you might find this situation in your organization:
- Product and Marketing operate in sync with the market or independently, generating content and functionality, but not communicating it to the rest of the organization.
- Sales continues the status quo, relying on classic messaging or whatever was last effective, often missing the changes that were specifically designed to impact prospect needs.
- Sales Leaders reach seemingly random revenue marks, not able to depend on any one quarter to track success in the next.
- Reps may sell unsupported or non-existent products, eventually requiring intense aid from support and customer success teams. Furthermore, they rely on a mix of old and new messaging, with each rep saying something different.
Because each team is focused on a different role and goal – their own – the chain of value from vision to revenue breaks. Success may still come, but it will more than likely take the form of unpredictable jumps in productivity, followed by deep lulls.
Breaking the Silos
Taking silos apart is not easy. It is a cultural shift that requires deep team input and a will to collaborate. This collaboration is exactly the weapon that your team needs to turn their teams into a well-oiled machine.
However, breaking every silo at once can be just as destructive as leaving things as-is. Instead, organizations need to find the most productive silos to unite, focusing on a core team that can drive revenue and larger goals together – the investment follows the number. Often, these key teams are the Product, Marketing, and Sales units.
Breaking silos takes a process, guided by several steps:
1. Share the Message
Product, Marketing, and Sales can be the hardest relationship to form – each team has their own distinct priorities and metrics – but represents the greatest impact to business success. Driving collaboration here ensures that the company can continue growing as a shift in culture takes place.
One of the easier conduits to breaking these silos is to ensure that the teams are working together to share and develop the message. Using a tool, such as video-based practice, helps smooth this transfer and get Sales in particular fully aligned, but simply bringing Sales and Marketing together to develop can show benefits. In an ideal world, Sales and Marketing would collaborate on an effective market message, develop a training and mastery cadence, and finally deploy and test.
2. Encourage Feedback
The last step in the formula for breaking a silo is passing feedback within the team. Often, visibility into the impact of the message stops when Marketing hands it off. This blind spot prevents change, and almost guarantees that Sales abandons whatever does not work.
Once Sales uses and practices the message, the channel back to Marketing and other Sales teams need to be created. Marketing gains feedback on what works – and what does not – from those most involved in using the message, and other Sales teams can see what the best do. Again, using a video-enabled tool makes this task automatic and fun, but other means – email, standups, meetings – work, so long as the feedback reaches the team.
3. Ensure Productivity
Too often, this feedback and learning loop only works once. Sales will pick up the message in a single learning event, then either fully and quickly learn it, or apply some hybrid version of what they saw. In the meantime, Marketing will push the resource, perhaps gaining feedback or leading a meeting on the ideas once, then quickly move onto the next big demand. The attempt to truly break the silo was there, but the result was less than lasting.
Ensuring productivity means ensuring that the communication between teams continues. Through a structured program of learning, feedback, and collaboration – ushered by a technology platform to automate and ease the process – teams can ensure that the beneficial communication continues. As a result, long-term revenue and performance goals can be reviewed against the new process, shedding light on what works and what needs work.
Sales automation needs to not only serve broad business goals, but also provide tangible benefits to each person on the team. By connecting Sales, Marketing, Product, and company, you not only gain visibility and reliability, but ensure that everyone – rep and marketer included – can bring the right tools to the job to close more business.