July 30, 2018

Breaking down the Silo Mentality

In retrospect, as a result of working in tandem with many enterprise software vendors (large & small, private & public) across a tenure of more than twenty years, I have found certain unmissable similarities among my clients.  These trends, whether intentional or unintentional, can have a direct effect on bottom line results and specifically on an organization’s ability to be effective.  Often it takes the perspective of an outsider or third party consultant to point out such trends that sometimes become corporate culture.  I find that a company’s ability to quickly identify which trends are accretive to corporate goals as well as trending activities that can break down effectiveness often can be the difference between success and complacency.

For example, how does a silo mentality affect an organization’s ability to execute in a sales capacity? A silo mentality, as it relates to sales effectiveness, is a lack of integration between core functions: marketing, sales operations, field enablement, value selling, training, etc. Optimally, all departments should be integrated into one cohesive selling motion where data is consistent and flows freely between core functions, creating a sales process that operates like a finely-tuned automobile.  In my experience, the lack of cross functional coordination oftentimes erodes sales effectiveness, which leads to underwhelming sales performance.  Whether it is deal desk coordination with field enablement or proposal generation with value selling or customer finance programs with corporate initiatives, if they are not working in tandem, it is difficult to expect your customers or partners to determine the maximum value of your offerings.  As a result, vendors often resort to discounting to close transactions which erodes margin and profitability while setting a suboptimal precedent in terms of pricing.  While each department and initiative in and of itself is most likely effective as a standalone effort, does each effort consistently reinforce and reflect the other, or do they operate as a silo?

How do you combat a silo mentality within your organization?  One approach is to rely on an outside observer or third party consultant to work with each department to create collaboration platforms where each function is not only encouraged but incented to share best practices and ensure coordination in respective deliverables.  For example, do your sales proposals consistently reflect your value selling  and pricing efforts and do your training programs teach your sales organization a common vocabulary to reinforce your value based sales efforts?  If not, focus should often be directed at not only building out robust sales programs but on the integration of these functions.

In my experience, bridging gaps between sales initiatives can significantly increase the pace of your business, quickly converting leads to opportunities and opportunities to new customers and bottom line results.  Ask and expect more from your trusted advisors/consulting firms tasked with helping to improve your business.  If vendors expect not only a standalone deliverable but assistance in integrating these deliverables into core functions, field sales organizations and sales outcomes can be improved over a long term, consistent and sustained basis.