Most companies struggle with sustainable revenue growth, let alone how to align teams around growth. And, it’s only getting harder to achieve. Today’s buyers are in complete control with endless information and choices at their fingertips. So, long gone are the days where revenue growth is just a sales problem.
If you want to bring in a steady amount of new customers AND make sure they stick around for the long run, leaders need to rethink how their teams, processes, and technology work together to create a seamless experience that buyers want.
Otherwise, your operations will end up misfiring. You bring in lots of new leads, but you can’t close them. Or, your close rates are high, but so is customer churn on the back end. All issues that prohibit growth.
Let’s look at what it takes to align your marketing, sales, and customer success (CS) teams to accelerate your revenue growth.
What is Revenue?
First, let’s define revenue because the term is everywhere now. What does revenue actually mean in relation to your business?
It used to be reserved for accounting, focusing on metrics like invoice to cash ratios and days sales outstanding (DSO). Today’s leaders though use revenue broadly to encompass all activities in an organization that impact the bottom line — as it should!
Revenue is also finally getting an important seat at the c-suite table. In the past few years, the title Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) is now normal with their main responsibility to align the organization around the right strategies and tactics that will meet long-term revenue goals (aka align teams around growth).
Unfortunately, many still fail to use the CRO title and its responsibilities effectively. Too often it’s still constrained just around sales!
What is a Revenue Organization?
A revenue organization is the heartbeat of any company (sorry if that hurts the feelings of CTOs and developers out there building cool tech products) and its entire focus is on your buyer journey. So, it encompasses your marketing, sales, operations, and customer success teams.
It’s the end-to-end process of the:
- Marketing team generating buyer awareness
- Sales team conversing with buyers
- Operations team providing data and the right access to your buyers
- Customer success team onboarding and serving the buyers
Each of these teams interacts with your buyer directly and thus impacts revenue generation for the organization. When these teams and their leaders are aligned together properly, they keep your buyers happy and the pulse of your business beating healthy.
And, alignment isn’t just a corporate fluff word, it’s life and death. Well, sort of.
Think about it like this. In the human body, the heart’s main objective is to serve as the central hub that distributes blood to the rest of the body allowing everything else to function. To do that, your heart receives blood from both the left and right side and pumps it back through its four chambers (atriums and ventricles). But, if any of those pieces aren’t working together, the main objective of the heart fails, and triage is needed.
Now, let’s think about your business. Everyone in the revenue organization (the heart) needs to align and work together for the company (the body) to operate efficiently. When that happens, your buyers notice. They get a seamless experience from their first touchpoint to their onboarding and support from customer success.
Warning Signs of Revenue Alignment Problems
But, most companies operate with misaligned teams and siloes that hurt performance. Here’s how you know if your teams are operating together or not.
1. Finger Pointing Between Teams
The most common warning sign of alignment problems between teams is finger pointing. How familiar do these sound?
- Marketing blames sales for not converting leads
- Sales blames marketing for bad leads
- Marketing and sales blames operations for being too slow, not prioritizing, or trying to influence sales process and strategy on what’s convenient in CRM
- Sales blames customer success for issues in onboarding, training, and servicing customers
- Customer success blames sales for selling features that aren’t in the product
- Operations blames sales for doing things on their own like process changes, stage requirements, etc
When even just a few of these happen, they can hurt your bottom line as it wastes time and is counter-productive toward anything moving forward.
2. Siloed Teams and Data
Another common sign of misalignment is revenue teams working in silos, leading to poor messaging and missed handoffs between teams.
- Marketing creates messaging that sales isn’t using
- Sales discusses ways to solve buyer problems without relaying to customer success
- Revenue operations align sequences and processes to buyer personas without marketing or sales
- Sales creates messaging and personas without involving marketing
- Customer success doesn’t use marketing’s content to educate customers
Even small companies can easily operate in silos. When they do happen, your company suffers and the buyer is placed in the middle of your problems. They’ll receive conflicting or inconsistent experiences.
This poor buyer experience prohibits your growth as it leads to issues like few lead conversions, underperforming sales process, and high customer churn.
3. Not Aligning ALL Your Revenue Teams
Further, most companies tend to only focus on aligning marketing and sales. Do a quick Google search and there’s plenty of content supporting it. Again, we’re seeking to align revenue teams around growth.
While it’s important to focus on these two, too many companies overlook aligning sales and customer success, which is the last step in enabling an end-to-end buyer experience.
Marketing generates leads, sales closes them, but then what? The transition from sales to customer success team becomes an afterthought, if one at all. There’s no parity, poor handoffs, and inconsistent communication between teams.
The result? Customer success becomes a dumping ground for any problems post-purchase like onboarding mishaps, ineffective training, invoice collection issues, support needs, etc. Sure these are all part of the job, but the problem usually isn’t just a lack of team training. The real culprit is usually a fragmented process that doesn’t align CS with the rest of the revenue organization including marketing, sales, operations, and even the product team. Instead, the CS team is left to fight for themselves and usually try (and fail) to solve problems in isolation.
The Simple Fix to Aligning Your Revenue Teams
So, most companies understand (or at least see) why they aren’t operating efficiently. But, “how” do you fix it?
The magic bullet to fixing alignment issues is talking to each other.
Sound simple? That’s because it is! But, most leaders don’t know how to communicate among teams effectively, consistently, and at scale.
If you want your revenue organization to have alignment or rhythm (heartbeat), then all parts need to work together, while being held accountable for their individual parts. There’s no finger pointing between teams. There’s no band aid fixes that only solve part of a problem temporarily.
To keep everyone on the same pulse, then intentional conversations need to happen regularly to identify and solve problems before they become destructive.
Conversing between teams can be as simple as daily huddles or strategic planning. Either way, you need a system of communication among leaders that’s streamlined, effective, and occurs frequently. You’d be amazed how many problems like messaging and handoffs between teams are solved through communication.
Looking for guidance on how to communicate between teams? I personally recommend Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, it teaches you how to have conversations within your company like we’re talking about here. I’ve also briefly outlined an aligned meeting strategy that can be implemented in any company or department.
Of course, implementing a system for conversations between teams and leaders is easier said than done. You have to consider when to do it, who to involve, ownership, accountability, etc.
I’m also not suggesting to have meetings just to have them. Any good leader knows that’s a big waste of time. Calendars booked solid with internal meetings that are just for brainstorming, debating, and off topic tangents won’t change anything. (Yes, I have become part of that problem at times too!)
Like Rockefeller habits teaches, internal conversation with revenue teams should have finite agendas and expectations. This keeps your meetings on topic and ensures you’re always moving the business forward by removing silos and building teams that work together instead of against each other.
How to Accelerate Your Revenue Growth
Why are we talking about the need to align teams around growth? Because it’s the right way to accelerate your growth. It allows your teams to constantly focus on your buyer needs and experiences.
So, get your revenue teams talking and interacting. Bring new ideas and test them. Prevent problems before they become destructive and don’t put your buyer in the middle of disagreements between teams.
Remember everyone at your company is on the same team fighting for the same goals. We all just need to be reminded of that sometimes and find better ways to work together. And, that’s the power of alignment.
Ed Porter | Fractional Chief Revenue Officer