In the last decade, Marketing Technology (MarTech) has proved to be a powerful integrating force within B2B enterprise marketing groups. But counteracting that strength is a powerful and persistent weakness.
Since joining The Pedowitz Group, and in my own B2B marketing strategy consulting practice beforehand, I have rarely encountered a large organization that doesn’t have a SILO problem. As companies grow through M&A, each acquired company brings its own MarTech, data, staff and processes. Few enterprises are good at assimilation, so the silos persist, and gaps often deepen–especially if the leadership in the acquired company is strong.
Business units are generally organized around product lines, and business unit leaders are incented to defend that territory, staff and budget. To ensure that revenue increases year-over-year, they allow rogue marketing groups within the units to bombard customers with emails. These groups are often called Field Support or Sales Enablement, each has access to a detached email program, and their messages are all about product announcements and promotions. The end result is the same for the customer – dozens if not hundreds of irrelevant emails from the same company each year. Many opt out. Few buy more.
Most leaders conceptually understand that silos and rogue marketing are counterproductive for the long-term, but from a practical standpoint each is OK with doing whatever meets their unit’s immediate need for leads. It’s all about keeping their funnel filled. Customer experience then suffers, as does cross-sell, retention and life-time value. I could write for days about the opportunity cost of silos. But how can an enterprise address this problem? Follow these three steps…
Change the Model
As TPG’s Debbie QaQish points out in her blog, TPG ONE™: A New Approach to the Customer Journey, “It’s time for B2B marketers to reimagine the funnel. Rather than a funnel that ends with delivering an MQL to sales, the customer engagement economy now requires a holistic view of the customer journey or customer lifecycle. Rather than marketing and the rest of the company working in silos across the customer’s journey, there needs to be a highly coordinated effort.”
Put another way, sales funnels are vertical like silos. What these companies need is a horizontal model, bridging the silos. Business units must stop propping up their own growth at the expense of the overall customer relationship. The longer leadership waits to introduce that new horizontal model, the more opportunity is lost.
Silos will persist if leadership continues to give a wink-and-nod to rogue behavior in the name of short-term revenue gains. C-level leaders must relentlessly enforce a new cross-silo business model until it become a way of life. Consistent and persistent communication about integration must be part of every leader’s job.
Executives often choose to jump-start such a change by bringing in a marketing consultancy like mine. Such groups have the outside perspective to see the silos and recommend ways to bridge them. Changes can be technical, process-driven, or organizational. Then best-practices can be overlayed. Here again, leadership must enforce and reinforce to make sure the beauty isn’t only skin-deep.
Don’t Look Back
Leaders, as new managers join your company, there will be a tendency to back-slide into territory-defending postures. Don’t let this happen. Silos are the one thing keeping your marketing organization from real impact. And poor customer experience is the one thing keeping your enterprise from maximizing each client’s life-time value.