Is Your Sales Department Still Operating in a Silo?


If you’ve invested in the latest sales tech stack, you probably expect to see a positive impact on the bottom line. Your reps now have access to a lead prioritization tool and the latest screen-​sharing application. And maybe your sales managers use call monitoring programs, along with a predictive analytics tool. If sales forecasts aren’t proving accurate and reps still aren’t making quota, you know there’s a disconnect. Part of the problem could stem from a sales team that is operating in a silo.

The Danger of Operating in a Silo

In old-​school sales departments, managers focus on their numbers and their reps. They pressure reps to maintain a high activity level, figuring it will translate into improved selling success. In truth, this pressure morphs into sales rep stress and a rush to search for a better position in a different company.

Technology has enabled prospects and clients to do plenty of discovery on your product and organization before they reach out. In fact, 39% of small business decision-​makers actively search for solutions online and are willing to share their contact information to get insights to help them solve their problems, according to the findings in our Voice of the Buyer survey.

What does this new buyer behavior mean for you?  It’s time to break out of your silo and work with the marketing department to generate leads. When your marketing colleagues develop content that interests your prospects, they have started to lead these people down the sales funnel. Instead of telling the marketing pros at your organization to stay in their own lane, help them develop messaging and content that attracts prospect attention.

The customer service department represents another challenge in a siloed organization. Reps work hard to bring clients into the organization, only to have the situation fall apart when customer service gets involved, notes Jay Fuchs at HubSpot. It’s easy to blame the customer service team members for doing a poor job. What’s probably happening is a failure to communicate. Sales managers and customer service managers should meet frequently and agree on a smooth onboarding and ongoing support process.

Break Down Your Sales Silo

Traditional sales managers have watched their power base erode as organizations adopted more digital solutions. They can no longer survive by scribbling their forecast on the back of an envelope. And they can’t protect their favorite sales rep by letting them work on landing a favorite prospect that hasn’t made a serious commitment in years.

The new World-​Class Sales Practices Study from Korn Ferry reveals that aligned sales organizations “achieve a 14.4% higher quota attainment” when compared to those that don’t communicate well. Alignment sounds like a no-​brainer, right? But how can you achieve that in your sales organization?

As a sales manager, you may now be interacting regularly with a chief sales analytics officer.  If you’ve hesitated to embrace the topic of sales analytics because it’s confusing and will take time to learn, get over yourself. Your competitors will be eating your lunch if you don’t come up to speed on effectively using sales analytics. Instead of cancelling meetings with the person who works in this new role, set aside a few hours to learn how to use the new technology to your advantage.

As Korn Ferry analysts report, “data is often perceived as a controlling tool only.” But once you dig in, you may find that your reps are spending too much time chasing nonproductive leads. If you help them score better leads and more sales, the entire organization will benefit from the change. And you'll all celebrate the use of data as a key ingredient for success.

You may feel comfortable operating in a silo, but you’re not doing your sales organization any favors. And if your reps are resisting change, have them take psychometric assessments to determine if they should take on a different role, one they’re more naturally suited to, in the organization.

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