Creating a Unified Future with Design Thinking: How to Align Sales and Marketing After M&A
Post-merger and acquisition integration can be a complex and challenging process. One of the most critical aspects of successful integration is unifying the sales and marketing functions of the newly merged or acquired organization.
This is because the alignment of these functions is essential for driving revenue growth, building customer relationships, and creating a strong brand image.
Tradition vs. Design
Traditional methods of post-merger integration typically involve a top-down approach where the acquiring company imposes its processes and procedures onto the acquired company.
This approach often results in cultural clashes and conflicts between the two organizations. In contrast, Design Thinking takes a collaborative and iterative approach that involves empathy, experimentation, and continuous improvement. By starting with empathy and understanding the needs of both sales and marketing teams, Design Thinking can create a shared vision and joint strategy that aligns with the goals of both functions.
In this blog you’ll find practical tips for unifying sales and marketing functions using Design Thinking.
Starting with empathy, which is the foundation of the Design Thinking approach, and it involves understanding the needs, goals, and pain points of both sales and marketing teams. The next step is to define a shared vision for the future, which is a collaborative effort that aligns with the goals of both teams.
You’ll discover examples of how to identify areas of alignment and misalignment and how to create a joint strategy, have regular communication and check-ins, and celebrate successes.
By following these steps and using the Design Thinking approach, organizations can create a more productive and effective working relationship between sales and marketing teams, leading to revenue growth, building customer relationships, and creating a strong brand image.
This approach encourages collaboration and communication between teams, leading to a more cohesive and productive integration process. Additionally, the Design Thinking process allows for flexibility and adaptation as the integration process progresses, which can lead to more effective solutions and better outcomes for the newly merged or acquired organization.
Design Thinking is a problem-solving approach that involves empathy, collaboration, and experimentation to develop solutions that meet the needs of users. Applying this approach to post-merger integration can help organizations create a shared vision for the future and develop a strategy that aligns with the goals of both sales and marketing teams.
Here are some key tips for unifying sales and marketing using Design Thinking:
Start with Empathy
Empathy is the foundation of Design Thinking. To unify sales and marketing, it is essential to understand the needs, goals, and pain points of both teams. This can be achieved by conducting interviews, surveys, and focus groups with sales and marketing personnel. The insights gathered can help identify common ground and areas of misalignment between the two functions.
Here are some examples on how to apply “Starting with Empathy” in unifying sales and marketing:
Conduct empathy interviews: Conduct one-on-one interviews with representatives from both sales and marketing. Ask open-ended questions to get a deeper understanding of their perspectives, experiences, and challenges. Listen actively to their responses and try to understand their underlying motivations and emotions.
Shadowing: Shadowing members of both teams can help you gain a better understanding of their day-to-day activities, challenges, and pain points. This can help you identify areas where sales and marketing could work more collaboratively.
Surveys: Conduct surveys to gather feedback from both sales and marketing teams. Ask questions that explore their thoughts on the current state of collaboration between the teams and gather ideas on how they could work more effectively together.
Focus groups: Organize focus groups with representatives from both teams. Use the session to discuss common goals, shared challenges, and explore opportunities to collaborate more effectively.
Empathy mapping: Use empathy mapping to visualize the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of both sales and marketing teams. This can help you identify areas where both teams share common ground and where they have different perspectives.
Starting with empathy can help build understanding and trust between sales and marketing teams. By understanding the needs, goals, and pain points of both teams, you can identify opportunities for collaboration, leading to a more productive and effective working relationship.
Define a Shared Vision
Once you have a deep understanding of the needs of both sales and marketing, the next step is to define a shared vision for the future. This vision should be a collaborative effort that aligns with the goals of both teams. The vision should articulate what success looks like for the organization and how sales and marketing will work together to achieve it.
Here are a few examples of how to apply the step of defining a shared vision:
Sales and marketing alignment workshop: Conduct a workshop where representatives from both teams come together to discuss their individual goals, challenges, and opportunities. Then, facilitate a discussion on how the two teams can work together to achieve a shared vision for the organization. This could include brainstorming sessions, group exercises, and idea sharing.
Develop a joint strategy document: Work collaboratively to develop a document that outlines the shared vision, goals, and objectives of both sales and marketing. This document can include key metrics, timelines, and responsibilities for both teams. It can serve as a guide for both teams to follow, ensuring they are aligned and working towards a common goal.
Regular communication and check-ins: Once the shared vision and joint strategy document have been established, it’s important to maintain regular communication between sales and marketing teams. This could include weekly meetings or status updates, to ensure both teams are aware of progress, changes, and challenges. This can help keep both teams aligned and working towards the shared vision.
Celebrate successes: Finally, it’s important to celebrate successes as they happen. When the organization achieves a shared goal, recognize, and celebrate the efforts of both the sales and marketing teams. This will help reinforce the shared vision and motivate both teams to continue working collaboratively towards the next set of goals.
Identify Areas of Alignment and Misalignment
With a shared vision in place, the next step is to identify areas of alignment and misalignment between sales and marketing. This can be achieved by mapping out the customer journey and identifying touchpoints where sales and marketing intersect. This exercise can help identify areas where the two functions are aligned and areas where there may be conflicts or gaps.
Here are some examples of how to apply the step of identifying areas of alignment and misalignment:
Map the customer journey: Create a customer journey map that includes all touchpoints where sales and marketing intersect. This could include lead generation, lead nurturing, sales handoff, and customer retention. Once the map is complete, identify the areas of overlap and potential areas of misalignment.
Conduct a gap analysis: Use the customer journey map to identify gaps or conflicts between sales and marketing. This could include differences in messaging, gaps in the customer experience, or misalignment in goals or metrics. Once these gaps have been identified, work collaboratively to develop a plan to address them.
Align on customer personas: Work collaboratively to develop customer personas that are aligned across both sales and marketing. This will help ensure that both teams are targeting the same types of customers and using the same messaging and tactics.
Create shared metrics: Develop shared metrics that measure the success of both sales and marketing efforts. This will help both teams work towards common goals and ensure that they are aligned in their efforts.
Develop a joint communication plan: Establish a joint communication plan that outlines how sales and marketing will communicate and collaborate with each other. This could include regular meetings, joint planning sessions, and shared communication tools.
Monitor progress: Finally, it’s important to monitor progress and regularly revisit the customer journey map to ensure that both teams are aligned and working towards the shared vision. This can help identify any new areas of misalignment and ensure that the organization stays on track towards achieving its goals.
Create a Joint Sales and Marketing Strategy
Using the insights gathered from the empathy and alignment exercises, it is now time to develop a joint sales and marketing strategy. This strategy should outline how the two functions will work together to achieve the shared vision. The strategy should include a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities, as well as metrics for measuring success.
Here are some examples of how to apply the step of creating a joint sales and marketing strategy:
Set common goals: Define common goals and objectives that both sales and marketing can work towards. This could include lead generation, customer acquisition, revenue targets, or customer satisfaction goals.
Develop a messaging framework: Work collaboratively to develop a messaging framework that outlines the key value proposition, messaging themes, and target customer segments. This will help ensure that sales and marketing are using consistent messaging to reach their target audience.
Define roles and responsibilities: Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each team member involved in executing the joint sales and marketing strategy. This will help ensure that everyone understands their specific tasks and can work collaboratively towards a common goal.
Create a content plan: Develop a content plan that supports the messaging framework and targets the key customer segments. This can include blog posts, white papers, case studies, videos, and social media content.
Establish a lead generation plan: Develop a joint plan for lead generation that includes the target audience, tactics for reaching that audience, and metrics for success. This can include inbound marketing, outbound sales tactics, or a combination of both.
Align on sales handoff: Develop a clear process for handing off leads from marketing to sales. This could include lead scoring, lead nurturing, or other qualification criteria to ensure that leads are ready for sales engagement.
Establish metrics and reporting: Define metrics for measuring success and establish a reporting process to track progress against those metrics. This can include lead conversion rates, revenue generated, customer acquisition costs, or customer satisfaction scores.
Monitor and adjust: Continuously monitor progress against the joint sales and marketing strategy, and adjust tactics as needed based on the performance metrics. This will help ensure that the organization stays on track towards achieving the shared vision.
Establish a Feedback Loop
Design Thinking is an iterative process and establishing a feedback loop is essential for continuous improvement. This feedback loop should include regular check-ins between sales and marketing teams to assess progress, identify areas of improvement, and adjust the joint strategy as needed.
Here are some examples of how to apply the step of establishing a feedback loop:
Schedule regular check-ins: Establish a regular schedule of check-ins between the sales and marketing teams to review progress against the joint strategy. This could be a weekly or bi-weekly meeting.
Review metrics and KPIs: Use the check-in meetings to review progress against the established metrics and KPIs. Discuss what’s working well and what’s not and identify areas for improvement.
Share feedback: Encourage both sales and marketing teams to share feedback on their experiences with the joint strategy. This could include feedback on the messaging, the content, the lead generation tactics, or the sales handoff process.
Collaborate on solutions: Work collaboratively to develop solutions to any identified areas of improvement. This could involve brainstorming new tactics, revising the messaging or content, or adjusting the lead generation tactics.
Test and iterate: Implement the solutions and test them against the established metrics and KPIs. Iterate on the solutions until the desired results are achieved.
Evaluate the feedback loop: Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of the feedback loop itself. This could include soliciting feedback from both sales and marketing teams on how the check-in meetings are working and whether they are finding them valuable.
Incorporate feedback into the joint strategy: Use the feedback gathered from the check-in meetings to adjust the joint strategy. This could include revising the messaging or content, adjusting the lead generation tactics, or making changes to the sales handoff process.
By establishing a feedback loop and continuously iterating on the joint strategy, the sales and marketing teams can ensure that they are working together effectively towards the shared vision, and continuously improving the joint strategy to achieve better results.
Design Thinking can be a powerful tool for unifying sales and marketing after a merger or acquisition.
By starting with empathy, defining a shared vision, identifying areas of alignment and misalignment, creating a joint sales and marketing strategy, and establishing a feedback loop, organizations can create a cohesive and collaborative team that drives revenue growth and builds strong customer relationships.