I rarely write about myself so please bear with me! I remember 25 years ago; my first sales rep days as a Frenchman in Bavaria and Southern Germany. I would often be searching for public phones carrying stacks of German Mark! Thanks to vandalism phone cards were introduced and public card-phones had soon after to be searched for! At that time I was selling Volvic (French) Mineral water! Outbound marketing was in: I had flyers, a few cotton T-shirts no one wanted and for the most part practiced good old B2B door to door basic “hardcore” selling! Like most companies we did not have Coca-Cola’s marketing budget! In many ways it was easy: I’d come up with a map, mark and pin it according distributors, key-accounts, customers and prospects, and start my regular tours planning around 10 daily visits selling, merchandising and prospecting for the most part!
We did not know about the silo mentality: we were living and exemplifying it! Customer complaints were turned around to make Volvic France shine! I particularly remember how dirty the French plastic crates were and how meticulous German car owners would regularly complain about them! Volvic France could not care less: they were so far away and I bet some of the people at the plant did not even know where Munich is! Every Volvic-silo was doing their own thing: bottling; packaging; warehousing; transporting and finally us: selling! During those 3 years I did not receive a single phone call from France asking me how things were on the ground! Mind you the ground? Obviously it Volvic France and customers were mostly for them a hassle, constantly making requests or complaining about something while our job was to convince them that most (if not all) of their requests were unreasonable!
Thankfully things have changed, as a matter of fact, changed so much that it is frightening: Volvic and everybody else now can receive emails, calls, reports, written-, spoken- video-information regardless of where we are! Sales people are expected to answer phone calls 24/7 and emails at the best before they have even been sent! To the repertoire of traditional commerce has been added social enterprising, content marketing, E-commerce, social media, cloud computing and mobility! The 21st century traditional and wannabe digital sales-geek has to understand a lot more than ever in order to grasp Social Business & Media, Inbound Marketing, Mobility as well as Cloud communication (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS)!
Here is an exaggerated caricature of today’s midsize companies “operating silos”
- Sales: trying to motivate Management and Production to finally manufacture products Sales can sell and this at an acceptable price, while complaining at the same time about delivery delays and quality issues!
- Production: ranting about manufacturing “too many products” not properly streamlined by Sales & Marketing (Dream of every plant manager is: couple of products manufactured without disrupting too much his production lines).
- Marketing: usually not having a clue of what is happening in their own company because of their mostly and until now “outbound” function!
- Controlling: mainly informing Direction and Sales Management about things they already know!
- IT Department: relentlessly upholding legacy structures, struggling to innovate but mostly slowing down everybody else!
- CEO / Managing Director: trying to please the board of director breathing down his neck while having to meet financial targets and business strategy.
Bottomline: “It ain’t working that way no more” as our “over-the-pond “US neighbors would colloquially say! What do we do next? Who should put the pieces together?
- Sales: I do not think so: Why? Because I have been a sales person most of my life and I know that most sales leaders cannot fulfill that responsibility.
- Production: What do you think? (I hope you do not even have to think twice about it).
- Marketing: probably not a good idea!
- IT: hm…. Not really customer oriented for the most part don’t you think?
- Controlling: usually informing company but mostly sales about the past, which is not going to help us much about future strategy!
- Managing Director / CEO: yes definitely and this is the way it should be BUT his responsibilities are so immense that he needs assistance and help in order to fulfill his vision and above all get the RIGHT information!
Who should be fulfilling this strategic role! Stay tuned for the second part of this article!