Sales Executive Corner

Five Ways to Break Down Silos Across Sales, Marketing + Revenue Operations

Anna Baird, Chief Revenue Officer at Outreach's Avatar

Anna Baird, Chief Revenue Officer at Outreach

Creating a culture of “one team” is a challenge for many go-to-market (GTM) teams. How do you help three distinct departments — sales, marketing, and revenue operations — become a united front?

They each have different, but intrinsically intertwined roles. Additionally, they each sometimes define “success” differently. This can cause teams to clash on everything from how key metrics are defined (like Marketing Qualified Leads) to who gets credit for the business. However, there is only one true metric of success at a business and that is revenue. Organizational silos act as a barrier to a company’s financial growth.

How can you get your sales, marketing and revenue operations (RevOps) teams to move in lock step?

Here are five practices that Outreach has adopted over the years to promote greater collaboration, support and profitability. Success is only truly success when it’s happening at every level of the organization — not just the top.

  1. Map Out Your Customer Journey: At Outreach, we took an actual customer and mapped out each stage of their journey. What was their experience like throughout the sales process and hand-offs? What friction points did the customer experience? We put ourselves in their shoes. It allowed us to narrow three different perspectives from marketing, sales and RevOps down to one shared vantage point. We also looked at everything that touches the customer, from marketing messages all the way up to Quarterly Business Reviews. Was everything in alignment? By breaking everything down, we are able to identify the disconnects and have real conversations about how to fix them. It is essential to make this an ongoing exercise though— your customer needs and preferences can evolve alongside market advancement, product innovation and your own team or business changes.
  2. Determine One Source of Truth: Organizational silos can cause each team to have their own perspective on what is happening in any given customer situation. It is also hard to look at things objectively when you are the one taking the action and being measured against it. That is where RevOps comes in. A big part of RevOps’ role is to deliver visibility across the GTM team and improve efficacy across processes. They can come in as the single source of truth and say, “This is what we are seeing, based on the data” — without placing blame on any one person or department.
  3. Develop a Shared Vision of Accountability: To get everyone on the same page, start by getting them in the same room. Schedule a recurring forum with the sales, marketing and RevOps team leaders. This is a place for honesty — and even healthy tension. Let RevOps start by laying out the challenges they observed since the last sync. Allow leaders across each team to look at the problem together and foster an open discussion. What activities is each team responsible for now? What changes should be made? How will the success of those changes be measured? Get specific. For example, what should marketing or sales be doing and what are their specific KPIs to measure performance? Everyone should leave the room with a clear, shared vision of accountability.
  4. Understand One Another's Challenges: A great way to break down organizational silos is to schedule time together when there is no problem to fix. Encourage cross-departmental Zoom meet-ups for coffee or happy hour. Walk the walk by having these same relaxed meetings with others in your organization — and even outside partners. Take the time to ask questions, understand each other’s perspectives and challenges. Find ways that you can offer support beyond the customer “hand-off.” It’s important to establish a rapport. Relationship building can also help your team solve problems together more effectively. Relationships are like a bank, you have to make deposits before you make a withdrawal. Now, when your vice president of marketing has to have a difficult conversation with your vice president of sales, they have built a foundational relationship which makes difficult discussions much easier as they come from a place of trust/understanding. When possible, try to establish alignment in person. Due to COVID-19, video calls are the next best option.
  5. Create a Culture of Support, Not Taking Credit: Sometimes, the focus gets misdirected to who gets credit, rather than how we can improve the customer experience. How can you shift the focus back to where it should be? In addition to mapping out the customer journey, determine how each team will provide quality service, take accountability in their stage of the process, and support their colleagues in the other stages. We want to encourage our GTM leaders to think beyond the hand-off. To be successful as a holistic organization, we need success at every level and on every team — not just at the top. We should collectively focus on identifying the strategies that work (based on data), doubling down on those efforts, and supporting each other throughout the process, even beyond our individual commitments.

One of the most important aspects of leadership is humility. There is always more to learn. Discover even more strategies on breaking down silos from the leaders I shared the Zoom “stage” with in this Sales Hacker webinar,“From Silo to Power Trio: Turn Sales, Marketing and Ops Into a Revenue Machine.”