Structure Your Team for Success

Anytime we discuss or structure sales and marketing as separate entities, we already have one strike against us. That’s because the purpose of marketing is to enable sales, so, as we discussed in last week’s Flight Manual, they have to work together. This week, we take a closer look at ways to assess and optimize the alignment and effectiveness of your sales and marketing teams. It’s full of industry-specific tips and ideas, and we hope it gets you thinking about what’s working or not working in your organization.

Several years ago, a Marcomm manager at an aircraft OEM asked me to recommend the ideal team structure.  He wanted to make a recommendation to management and was looking for best practices in the aerospace industry — what are the ideal department sizes and structures — and why?

I wasn’t able to give him exactly what he was looking for because the research just didn’t exist.  But together we were able to map out a structure to support his company’s needs and organizational objectives — and provide a cogent rationale for presentation to management. 

Fast forward to 2017. If Mr. Marcomm were to ask me the same question today, I’d have more to offer, based on experience, research, and changes in the way our industry markets and sells.

Today I would encourage my client to look at his requirement in a more holistic way.  Although his question focused on marketing communications, I’d encourage a broader discussion of sales and marketing. 


Challenges and Opportunities in A&D Sales and Marketing

No Alignment

Chronic lack of alignment is an ongoing challenge within aerospace and defense organizations, and it’s something we see time and time again. It’s keeping many companies from reaching their true sales and revenue potential. Finger pointing and infighting between these groups is a huge red flag. Take a look at your organization and your personnel.  Will changes help establish a more unified approach to these essential functions?

Do you have the right sales team? Sources say that conscientiousness is key. Entrepreneur shares 15 characteristics of successful salespeople. And here’s more from HBR.

What about your marketing team? Effective marketers must have mastery of technology. This just isn’t optional. And our industry isn’t there yet. Too many marketers are rejecting or avoiding this new reality. Does your team have these five essential skills? Here’s another useful resource: Qualities of A Successful Marketing Executive.

Separate Goals

Separate organizations are one problem. Separate goals — or lack of clear goals altogether — are another.  Do your sales and marketing organizations know how marketing activities are contributing to sales? Are there specific, agreed-on metrics that ensure focus and clarity?  Does marketing have visibility to sales results in real time?  And does sales know what marketing is doing to create an environment conducive to making sales?  In our experience, most A&D sales teams and marketing teams spend too much time on tactics — doing stuff — and not enough time on doing stuff that measurably supports their goals.

HubSpot talks about the importance of shared goals here and recommends regular meetings to share important KPIs related to lead generation, conversion optimization, and market analysis.

Little Accountability

Speaking of goals, let’s talk about accountability.  Not blaming or backstabbing. True accountability based on data, not opinions.  Did marketing generate enough qualified leads this month?   Did sales close enough deals?  The answer is either yes, or it’s no. Either way, it’s the foundation for a productive assessment about what is and is not working.

Act-On describes the reality of working together productively and with accountability.  “So does it take work? Absolutely. Is this a silver bullet? No. It’s a planned mindset shift, a tactical shift that brings everybody together. Over time, however, is when you’ll see the results start to come about.” Check out their brilliant funnel analysis that shows how one company drastically reduced its inquiries and leads, but tripled sales closes.

Lack of Structure

Discipline, structure and transparency are important to link the sales and marketing organizations and to ensure that they work together effectively.   Shared processes and systems — like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Marketing Automation — can help bridge gaps and facilitate collaboration. They also mean underperformers and information hoarders have nowhere to hide.

This article, “Growth Insights for CEOs,” says transparency between sales and marketing is essential. Remind your sales and marketing team that that B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations show measurably better revenue growth.


How Should Your Organization be Structured?

Having read and thought this through, you may be considering some organizational changes, and that brings us full circle, back to the client question we opened with. How should your organization be structured?

The truth is, we still can’t answer that in a one-size-fits all, best-practice way.  We can definitively advise that sales and marketing have to work together. But everything else is going to be dependent on a broad range of factors and organizational specifics.

These resources provide good ideas and food for thought as you start mapping out an improved structure.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Lisa Sifuentes and Sarah Stanzcyk for contributing to this week’s content.



Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 8.58.25 AM.pngWhen and why should aerospace or aviation companies hire an outside marketing firm? Often times it comes down to the desire for change, help or improvement, and sometimes all three. If you find that one or more of these 6 scenarios, outlined in our white paper, describe you and your situation — it may be time to seek external support from a professional marketing firm.

Download: White Paper