By Katrina Olson
Summit Electric Supply Vice President of Marketing Sheila Hernandez has been working in electrical distribution since she joined the company as a college intern. During that time, she’s seen a lot of trends come and go. “Recently, I’ve noticed a change in how companies are operating their websites and managing product data. As these functions have become more customer facing, it’s becoming the norm to put them under marketing,” explains Hernandez.
There’s certainly more and more of a connection between data management, an information technology function, and marketing, especially with the development of highly sophisticated websites, e-commerce, and punch out catalogs. The tie between marketing and IT is much stronger that it’s ever been, historically.
So how do you break down the silos and these departments?
As trite as it sounds, it starts and ends with communication.
“First and foremost, does each department know what the other is doing? Is each aware of the other’s goals and objectives? Are they working in coordination or just getting in each other’s way? Or worse, are they unknowingly working at cross purposes? If we’re not communicating, we’ll start butting heads,” shares Hernandez.
How does the sales department interact with marketing?
When developing their annual marketing plan, Hernandez’s team works with the sales team to dovetail their efforts with the sales team’s objectives. “Are we perfect? No. It’s something we continue to work on, from long-range, big objectives to one-shot stuff we do for sales like customer presentations.”
This is a challenge that the industry as a whole hasn’t yet conquered, but it’s certainly on the radar. Inspired by my conversation with Summit’s Sheila Hernandez, following are five tips to help you start de-siloing your organization:
- Communication is key. Find a way to start a conversation between departments that should be working together like marketing, IT and sales.
- Reduce the number of layers. When the organization is flatter, the decision-makers will be working directly with one another.
- Hold inter-team/interdepartmental meetings with more than one person from each department. Involve key players plus those who will actually do the work.
- Set common goals. Then map out a plan with strategies for achieving them that includes and serves all departments involved, and is supported by tactics from each department.
- Track, share, acknowledge, and even celebrate successes. To demonstrate the importance of interdepartmental teamwork, require managers to track these cooperative efforts, even if only through “anecdotal” stories and examples. Then share these successes to foster a spirit of continued cooperation.
In the eyes of the customer, you’re one company. Of course, customers realize your company has different departments; but they also expect everyone to know what’s going on in other departments. That means being able to answer customers’ questions and address their concerns; or connect them with a specific person who can help.
I say this all the time, but it’s just not rocket science. Yes, effective marketing does require foundational knowledge, training and experience—but it’s not hard to learn. Similarly, getting sales, marketing, IT and other departments on the same page isn’t difficult. It just takes leaders (like Summit’s Hernandez) who are willing to invest the time to build the relationships, plan together and implement those plans.
Olson is a marketing and public relations consultant, and principal of Katrina Olson Strategic Communications. She has written for tED magazine’s print edition since 2005, judged tED magazine’s Best of the Best Competition since 2006, and emceed the Best of the Best Awards ceremony for a total of seven years. She can be reached at Katrina@katrinaolson.comor via her website at katrinaolson.com.
Tagged with marketing, marketing momentum, sales