Last week was an interesting one and I think we all deserved this past weekend. In the mayhem of the week, I was able to attend Hubspot’s Inbound Conference in Boston November 8 – 11. The weeklong sales & marketing event was headlined by an impressive group of people, spanning the gamut from one of the greatest tennis players of all-time to an Oscar-nominated actress to the directors of “Making a Murderer”.
For me, the impact of Inbound went beyond the main stage headliners and the true value was found in the breakout sessions, hallway discussions, a vibrant social stream, and networking coffee breaks which highlighted the transformation of business from a solo endeavor of heroes to one where teams win. Of all the content and discussions, three major themes jumped out at me, and I believe that these themes will challenge all of us as we look to the future.
Sales, Marketing, and Service: The Three Musketeers in 2017
Sales, marketing, and service teams should establish combined goals and work together to solve them. Many of us continue to complain about working within siloed organizations and the challenge of getting other teams to understand what we do and why collaboration is integral to the success of our organization. One of the main reasons why collaboration suffers is that we don’t have the same information or knowledge. Therefore, we are focused on improving our own part of the business with little visibility into the impact of the improvement on the whole experience delivered to the customer.
Several sessions highlighted how barriers get broken through combined knowledge and understanding. So, step one in breaking silos between sales & marketing, and even service, is to have shared knowledge to drive at shared goals. For example, organizations should consider creating a similar curriculum of best practices or workshops for all customer-facing teams. Organizations should also create training tools (i.e., videos) which are made available to these different functions to help facilitate this level of continuous learning and shared knowledge.
Push The Chips All In
Technology depends on being “all in”. Too often we as business leaders expect that our front lines will just adopt whatever technology we give them. This could not be further from the reality on the ground. The success of a technology deployment depends on gaining buy-in from the users of that technology. This holds true for the deployment of a CRM tool, a field service management solution, or any other enterprise technology. At Inbound, the connection between understanding the promise of what technology can bring and how to achieve it depended on having a team committed to its success at all levels. Multiple speakers discussed how organizations they worked with often invested in technology tools, but the employees would find workarounds to use their own tools of choice. This lesson goes beyond sales & marketing technology to encompass any deployment of technology or new process.
Marketing & Sales Gold is Found in the Field
Customer service is becoming marketing and sales gold. This is something those of us in customer service and other support functions already knew. But throughout last week’s Inbound event, various executives highlighted the importance of delivering on a promise of quality to the customer. But more importantly, they [sales & marketing executives] are beginning to promote the value being delivered in the field and via the customer support team. As a service nerd [expert], I was happy to see leaders from other functions understand that their success depended on the service team delivering as products no longer drive as much of the business as in prior eras or generations.
Take the Enthusiasm from the Stage to the Streets
While service’s value to sales & marketing continues to increase, we are also seeing an increasing sales and marketing focus being applied to traditional service disciplines and products. Service can only operate on an island for so long and if the service delivered is truly a differentiator, then it behooves organizations to make customers and prospects aware of their service excellence. To be the cornerstone of organizations, driving revenues, profitability, and customer satisfaction, service must be supported by the sales and marketing team. I think the beginning of this realization was highlighted at Inbound.
The convergence of these teams is a transformation I will be researching in earnest in 2017. If you oversee sales or marketing for your organization and work with service, I would like to get you involved in our research in this area. If you are the right person, or would like to refer me to the responsible person within your organization, please send me a note. Sales, marketing, and service collaboration is integral to the future of your business next year, let’s learn from each other.