bridging silos

How Bridging Silos Can Make Your Company Stronger

Written by in Campaign Optimization on April 5, 2016

That afternoon meeting when marketing pitches programs and sales gets excited—with high fives and kudos going around the table—can be a happy time at any company.

Until the question comes along: “Marketing, how long will it take for any of these campaigns to produce results sales can use?”

Marketing says: “Six to nine months.”

Needing the sales this month, rather than many months from now, sales does an about-face and jumps on an important call. Marketing goes from hero to zero in an instant, and the team feels dejected and crestfallen.

Is either team going to achieve success this way? Well, it won’t make it any easier.

“Companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve 2O% annual growth rate, and companies with poor sales and marketing alignment have a 4% revenue decline.” – Aberdeen Group

Many mid-sized to large companies experience the silo predicament, but smaller companies know it too. There are regular complaints about teams or business units not communicating, and a lot of finger pointing at internal silos.

While not only limited to marketing and sales, it is an area where this issue is very prominent. Are silos the issue—and is tearing them down the answer?

Has anyone ever said, “I tore down all the silos and increased efficiency by X%?”

With any problem it’s good to start with the end in mind.

The problem isn’t that silos exist. The problem is communication between key business units is stunted due to the natural progression of silo growth within scaling companies.

By facilitating information flow, we can enable sales and marketing teams to do their jobs more effectively.

Here are several ways to break down silos between your teams:

Clarify Company Goals to Align Your Team

If company goals aren’t clear, then alignment becomes very difficult. This makes people go into busy mode—doing tasks without working in unison.

Company goals set the stage for the strategies and tactics needed to succeed. Ideally anyone on the team should be able to draw a line from a corporate goal to their specific job. If those lines cross into silos? Those are areas of opportunity.

The added benefit of clarifying company goals is that it shows irrelevant activities that aren’t strategic to the overall vision.

breaking silos
Source: Wheelhouse Advisors

Fine Tune Information Flow for Collaboration

If the data is not of high quality, not maintained, not shared, AND not automated accurately, it is very difficult to have team collaboration.

Each silo needs certain information to do their jobs. Much of this information flows up, down, and across silos.

Where that information has commonality in desperate need of collaboration is a key area to bridge the gaps. Find the stakeholders of that information, define their requirements, and uncover the common good.

Hire Team Players as Leaders in Your Company

If personal agendas cannot be set aside for the betterment of the company, then team alignment absolutely has the risk of failing. It takes strong leadership and a strong team culture to change silos.

A silo has a lead person responsible for that business unit’s success. Hiring high quality leaders who value team-building is a smart move, because the ability to close gaps across business lines are crucial to the success of bridging the silos.

Avoid the empire builders. Find people that can see the big picture, communication professionals who are adamant about sharing information across boundaries.

sales and marketing alignment
Source: Wheelhouse Advisors

Silos in Sales and Marketing

Some of the most prominent silos within companies are sales and marketing, the two teams that really need to be working together with great precision. Yet we’ve all heard the same thing over and over again—marketing isn’t doing their job right, or sales isn’t listening.

This is a common frustration, one many of us have experienced firsthand. If you’re not using an SLA (Service Level Agreement) at your company, it’s a good place to start.

Having an SLA and a lead scoring model in one place is even better, because it helps define roles and responsibilities between both parties to bring the team into alignment.

Less mud slinging, more efficiency…I think we all like the sound of that.

Download the Sales and Marketing Template to start bridging the silos in your company.

Let’s leave the silos as they are and find bridges that span the silos to foster cross communications and improved team work.

We want to hear from you out there. What have you learned while improving team alignment in your company?


Pete Matthews About the author: Pete Matthews

Pete Matthews helps clients execute strategy, align marketing & sales, and build agility. He is a change agent for improving organizations' output, and a catalyst for amending or replacing strategies, procedures, and processes that are obstacles to achieving the vision on a company-wide scale. Pete has held marketing operations and sales operations leadership roles at Microsoft, McData, Inflow, CTEK, and Massini Group. He brings a unique talent having lived all aspects of the customer journey experience; marketing, sales and service both on the front lines and operationally. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn.


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