When Marketing Tech Messes With the Org Chart

ago, sales was sales, and marketing did its own thing in its own, separate corner. Marketing found leads and passed them off to sales. End of story.  

No longer. 

Information technology has taken that straightforward arrangement and turned it into a pretzel. The distinct boundaries between departments have faded and blended, as data is expected to go where it is needed, no matter what the organizational chart says.  

Should marketing combine with sales? Should IT report to marketing? Should IT do its own thing and leave sales and marketing alone? This is not a case of bolting technology onto the departments and doing things the way they were always done–only faster. This is more about reorganizing the company to make best use of the technology. 

Non-traditional roles 

IT used to be the corporate gatekeeper for all applications, regardless of department. If sales wanted a CRM application, or if marketing wanted a lead generation app, they had to petition IT. Back in the day, this made sense, since apps had to talk to each other, or at the very least, not conflict with the apps the company was already using.  

Now, it seems, IT can “delegate the role to the departments,” noted Angela Earl, president of Haatzama Marketing. Sales is about relationships. Marketing is about brand management. These departments can pick the software that best suits their needs, clearing it through IT, which is there to integrate the apps and prevent redundant purchases, she explained.  

Where sales and marketing are weak is data security, a mission that plays to IT’s strengths, Earl continued. “Data privacy, information security, software development and integration, should primarily live in the IT department.” 

Where is it carved in stone that sales and marketing shall be separate? Fusion is one strategy, noted Robert Guinn, co-founder of the obo. Agency. The example he gave was HubSpot, which decided several years ago it was going to combine the sales and marketing databases in order enable faster, tactical decision making. In general, combining sales and marketing tech-wise should yield a three-part stack: marketing automation that gathers lead data from the front end (web site, e-mail); a CRM component that allows sales to pick up the information that can convert the lead into a sale; and finally a customer lifetime cycle management that seeks repeat business, Guinn explained. 

Another alternative is robust communication between teams, again enabled with marketing automation. “We have been working with Salesforce Cloud solutions as one of our mainstream technologies.” said Lily Smirnova, marketing and business development manager at CoreValue, a software and technology services vendor, and Salesforce partner. “The platform offers Salesforce Marketing Cloud — a CRM platform for marketers that enables the creation and management of marketing  campaigns and relationships with customers.”  

The solution ties together  personalized customer journeys, predictive analytics, real-time data management, cross-channel connections, aligned marketing and sales efforts, social media analytics and content management, Smirnova explained. “[It] is about building tight relations and interchange between one another: front stage with pre-sales and sales, and backstage marketing [to] help client-facing BD to get real results.” 

End Result 

“Humans are inherently averse to change” Earl said. But when the enterprise embraces and adopts a data-driven operation, change has to be accommodated. The impact can always be mitigated with planning.  “The demand on the company is not to change, but to be extra clear,” Earl said. Each team should know what it is accountable for, with clear communication coming from leadership to the teams.  

It takes people to market to other people. Managers are remiss if they think they can automate, fire the staff, and let the system run in the background. “The sweet spot is somewhere in the middle,” Guinn said. “You use automation to create that 1-to-1 interaction” between the seller and the customer, he said. “Just because you have a new, shiny tool does not make a business better.”  

“Marketing automation tools are becoming increasingly accessible to businesses of all sizes.” Smirnova said. “ Practice shows that it does not take much time or efforts to implement the crucial tools for regular day-to-day activities. After marketing automation software is chosen,and the team members are educated, it all goes down to planning and agile practices implementation.”

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