2 Steps to Building Alignment In Your Sales Org and Beyond


It’s all too common. You make great plans, start an initiative, roll it out, and get your sales team on board. Then two weeks later, you see or hear that another sales team or business unit is doing something different but somehow related.

Maybe it’s contradictory and undermines your progress. Or maybe it’s complementary and could have helped make a bigger impact. In either case, this lack of sales force alignment often creates frustration and conflict between teams who rely on each other for success, not to mention it can undercut your company’s ability to achieve your goals.

But how could you have known and gotten out ahead of this separation?

This is where business alignment is so key.

It’s so easy for operating groups to get hyper-focused on their own initiatives and forget to look across the organization. The main reason this happens is lack of communication, but the root cause is really a lack of strategic alignment from the top of the organization down through to the boots on the ground.

One way to combat this separation is to simplify, align, and communicate your business process across the company.

You might be thinking, “Why start here? Isn’t there something more fun or exciting than business process alignment?”

A business process is a set of activities and tasks that must be completed to meet the needs of the organization or customers. Your business process is key to understanding everything it takes to deliver your products or services.

So, without understanding the entire business process and who is involved, you will constantly be surprised by activities that undercut your efforts.

74% of executives say complexity in business processes and decision-making strongly inhibits goal attainment. — SAP

Now, where do you start? Here are two steps to aligning your business process:

Step 1: Define and share.

Each business unit should clearly define its strategy and outline its key initiatives, making sure to include:

  • Program Initiative: Outline the program objectives and what the program intends to address.
  • Benefits: Define the benefits expected as a result of the program. This could be reducing costs, increasing revenue, and improving customer experience.
  • Costs: Set a “T-shirt cost” (small/medium/large), which will focus on all in costs, such as internal and external resources, hardware, software, and other technology spend.
  • Timeline: Put together a high-level timeline from start to finish. This will help for ROI calculations.

Outlining these key items will help facilitate the discussion, which will be most effective in the context of a center of excellence (COE). As the COE facilitates discussion, it also helps evaluate the needs of the organization against the needs of the business unit, and prioritizes the programs by need, spend, or business alignment. The goal really should be how to determine the best ROI for the company, while encouraging and easing collaboration across the organization.

Once you develop your key initiatives, each business unit should conduct a business-process mapping exercise. This will represent the business process in a visual format to help outline key business unit intersections, reduce complexity in the business, and support a transition from current to future state.

Step 2: Assess what you’re working with.

Understanding your technology landscape is critical to any organization, regardless of size.

Throughout your business process, you would have identified manual and automated steps. The automated steps are most likely dependent on a technology platform and it is important to understand what platforms exist and how can you maximize your investment.

For a thorough assessment, you can start with the following elements:

  • Technology Inventory: This is a list of the technologies by operating group, and should include a description of the technology, the vendor, age of technology, last upgrade, and planned or required upgrades.
  • Supporting Functions: This includes what functions it supports for the organization. For example, a CRM system would support the front office (i.e., marketing, sales, and customer service).
  • Features and Functionality: This should include all capabilities of the tool and what features are currently being used.
  • Data Management: Data management is critical to understanding where you store, manage, and mine data. Since data is the foundation to understanding the needs of the organization, this tool will be used throughout the entire process. Make sure you include where the data originates: from the customer, an internal partner, or another system.
  • Impact Assessment: Is the system having a positive or negative impact on the organization?
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: Note the yearly spend and tie that back to features, functionality, and results. This estimates the strengths and weaknesses of the platforms as well.

By assessing your technology, you’ll have a holistic view of what tools are being used across the organization. This could help with consolidation, reduction in spend, and better business and sales process alignment.

What’s most important is that your technology platforms support your business process and not the other way around.

The more complex your business process, the more complexity you will add into your technology. By looking at these two factors as a team, you will better achieve synergy and remove complexity that is reducing the effectiveness of your organization.

It’s so easy for operating groups to get hyper-focused on their own initiatives and forget to look across the organization.”

Walter Rogers | CEO, CCI Global Holdings
The 7 Biggest Trends Upending Sales Today By Maria Valdivieso de Uster,
Director of Knowledge, McKinsey & Company’s Marketing and Sales Practice
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