The word can evoke images of grain towers or underground guided missile chambers.
But living in today’s high-tech world…
Just the sound of the word can cause dread for what may follow. In tech circles, the word “silo” is rarely uttered in light or uncontentious conversation. It carries incredible negative connotation, perhaps because it often creates havoc. The impact of silos grows every day, especially in technology-driven companies (nearly all of us) where collaboration and nimbleness is increasingly more critical to success.
Silos exist in nearly every organization. They are created by leaders who set separate goals and agendas as they work furiously to deliver on their individual group objectives. Silos get reinforced by those who fear collaboration might be a roadblock or speedbump to their own successes.
Every organization relies on sales and revenue to exist. Silos can be the biggest obstacle to successfully selling a product or service. If marketing, e-commerce, sales operations, finance, and the selling organization are on different paths with different goals and different messages, it can spell disaster.
The Solution? Sales Enablement
Enter Sales Enablement – the new kid on the block with everything to prove. If you ask for the definition of sales enablement from eight different organization leaders, you will likely receive ten different answers. This “ambiguity” can easily take sales enablement down one of those deadly siloed paths. Sales enablement executed properly - created with the customer in mind - can be a critical foundation for collaboration, breaking through the silos in the organization.
One of my mentors once told a group of pricing analysts in my organization that they “sold” for a living. After allowing the confusion to effectively set in, he elaborated, “Everyone in our company sells, because our company is in the business of sales.”
It was a brilliant and insightful statement that I continue to hold close. If every group in the organization – pricing, legal, marketing, compliance, HR – is focused upon supporting successful selling, the success of the organization is sure to follow.
Let’s look at a use case:
The sales team has identified an industry opportunity sweet spot with an ideal potential customer base that only someone in the field could find.
- In a siloed environment the opportunity would stay with the sales team becoming a roughly compiled target list emailed to those interested enough to review it
- With a robust sales enablement program in place
- The opportunity concept is actively cultivated through CRM posts, in open forums and ‘think-tanks’, team meetings and virtual suggestion boxes, and surveys searching for it
- Concept recommendations are qualified and vetted for predicted impact and potential growth, resulting in elimination of time-wasters
- Qualifying ideas are brought to a cross-functional team led by sales enablement
- That team creates marketing support, e-commerce and social presence, and pricing and presentation material to support the idea
- The concept is now elevated to an embraced, supported corporate campaign
- Valid targets are identified and stack-ranked, keeping sales team time effectively prioritized
- Targets are deployed through the CRM, complete with appropriate marketing materials to support the selling effort, keeping the campaign visible, trackable, reportable and easy to execute
In this scenario, sales enablement has built an eco-system where collaboration is the new norm. This environment encourages breaking through the silos and stimulates a spirit of cooperation and collaboration. Such an approach is crucial for a modern organization to survive in today’s technology-driven world. If established properly, it can lead to success and make “silo” just another word.
Next, we’ll look at sales enablement from the perspective of the various functions in an organization. Please stay tuned!