Problem Definition It appears that Avaya’s most immediate problem is a noticeable operational “gap” between the marketing and sales departments. Throughout the sales process, the departments are not working together in a cooperative fashion – they’re working separately, and sequentially. This gap not only affects the ways in which the departments interact and communicate, but is also likely affecting sales and demand generation. If there was a new model put in place for sales and marketing to work together, not only would sales and demand generation improve, but efficiency would undoubtedly increase.
Due to the current operational model in place with these departments, each has their own systems and processes (funnels) that are un-related and unaligned. There are no established objectives or common goals that the departments share and, as a result, there is a complete lack of systematic devices/models for executing sales and increasing demand cooperatively. From the reading, it’s easy to gather that the organization even lacks a standardized set of parameters for classifying potential and return clients (data evaluation that determines good leads, purchase likelihood, and anticipated purchase timeline is inconsistent).
Needless to say, this is a large problem for an organization looking to integrate their efforts to create a flexible, measurable system that increases revenue. Additionally, I feel that their sales force compensation model may be contributing to this problem, because it’s so heavily based on quarterly revenue numbers. In the current model, the sales force has final say on which leads they will pursue, no matter which department they were obtained through.
Therefore, it’s not unrealistic to believe that a sales person might reject pursuing a smaller potential client for a larger one, simply based on the status of their current numbers instead of purchase likelihood. I feel that this what Ill was referring to when he mentions, “quarter-to-quarter thinking. ” The glaring issue with this circumstance is that new and potentially long-term business could be getting turned away because of performance pressure felt by sales executives. The only reason that this scenario is feasible is because the sales funnel operates independently, and without any external involvement.
Alternatives Unified Funnel One way to correct this problem is to create an integrated marketing & sales funnel in which both departments should have a role in every phase of the process – from first impression to the closing of the deal. The goal of this model would be to more-effectively and efficiently classify potential clients while generating sales and demand. It would also, given their proven history of high customer retention, position the generation of new business at the forefront of these goals.
Many of the involved processes with this model, including client evaluation, would be taking place simultaneously with the sales force’s efforts to move customers through the purchase process. Thanks to this simultaneous design of the model, Avaya would be able to quickly make analysis, measure results, and make adjustments based on the feedback they obtain. If properly utilized, this unified funnel would impact all customers, not just new ones, as it could increase interaction between them and the organization.
With the marketing and sales departments working closely together, seamless inclusion of new-media tools such as blogs and message boards could potentially boost sales and maintain current relationships by providing valuable industry news and organizational information. Implementing online tools (calculators, budget-based packages, etc. ), communication, and advertisements will also allow them to “digitally tag” their traffic and then gather information about why they did or did not make a purchase.
This alternative would require a great deal of procedural change in the way that the marketing and sales departments interact and, as with all organizational change, some challenges would arise. It’s likely that the initial response to these changes would not be all positive. In an organization like Avaya that has done things a certain way for so long, employee push-back on change is inevitable. Adding to this would be the fact that compensation among members of the sales team is much more directly affected by sales performance than members of the marketing team.
An effective transition plan would have to be established with a two-way communications channel providing up-front and easily-understood information to employees about the planned changes. Perhaps creating a “transition team” comprised of select sales and marketing personnel would allow for a smoother implementation, as the representatives would hold an active role in fulfilling transition objectives. Sales promotion As another alternative, I feel that jointly-organized sales promotion would generate short-term sales.
Avaya has a very well-designed organizational structure with their sales and marketing departments that allows them to reach a wide variety of markets. They also seem to have a very thorough understanding of their target market. This leads me to believe that effective sales promotions could be created to attract new business through direct e-mail and other easily-targetable channels. Utilizing high-tech channels of promotion would also provide the marketing and sales departments with a mechanism for tracking the impact that individual campaigns and distributions have on sales activity.
While sales promotion might provide a short-term alternative for Avaya, I don’t feel like it would completely satisfy what executives are looking for as a solution to their problem. This option is less-sustainable and would do little for increasing overall efficiency. The organization would also have to realize that there is a possibility that sales promotion might affect their current customers’ view of Avaya as a company that only cares about getting new customers. Evaluative Criteria
I feel that and effective alternative for Avaya must align with organizational objectives established by management. They’re looking for measurable results through a sustainable, integrated, and flexible model. To me, this indicates that they hope to implement changes that not only increase revenue, but also operational efficiency. The importance of increasing the flow of future good leads is addressed as a large concern, as executives feel that short-sightedness has become embedded in the culture of the current model and is identified as “quarter-to-quarter” thinking.
Obviously, if an effective alternative model can increase the “flow” of leads to the marketing and sales departments, then I would also expect it to increase new business, so that the organization can continue to tap into growing markets such as the non-US segment. I selected these performance indicators don’t allow for any “quick-fixes” or “gimmicks. ” If Avaya can find a way to meet all of these criteria through a model that gets the marketing and sales departments to work together, then I feel that they are moving in the right direction towards long-term success. Evaluation of Alternatives Criteria |Status Quo |Unified Funnel |Sales Promotion | |Increase flow of “good leads” into funnel |No |Yes |Yes | |Increase new business |No |Yes |Yes | |Increase Efficiency |No |Yes |No | |Aligns with organizational objectives |No |Yes |No | |Sustainability |Low |High |Low | Recommendations and Guidelines for Tactical Implementation. I would recommend the implementation of the “unified funnel” as a sustainable and flexible model that would result in a long-term revenue boost. With both departments working together to evaluate a clients’ budget, needs, and timeline, it would be far easier to prioritize key targets.
This model would also help increase new business by increasing the flow of quality leads and, ultimately, the conversion of those leads into purchases. Efficiency would also be greatly increased with this model due to the fact that the marketing department would no longer be putting in a great deal of work, just to see a 30-50% acceptance rate of their leads. On the other side of this, the sales department would have the opportunity to evaluate clients who might otherwise been eliminated during the marketing department’s process of selecting leads. Furthermore, the unified funnel would lead to expansion of their newly formed global, e-mail, and internet marketing campaigns geared toward increasing awareness through a more interactive and customized experience.
Finally, this is a solution that aligns with the organization’s newly established objectives and seeks long-term results instead of a stimulus of short-term sales. This alternative has secondary benefits as well. Devices and practices created together by the marketing and sales departments will be much more measureable than current tactics. These new strategies can be easily tested and systematically implemented without affecting the organization’s image, all the while providing feedback to the teams about what is and isn’t working. By eliminating the sequential nature of the relationship, the unified funnel establishes a model that points towards a shared set of goals and objectives that can also provide instant feedback and can be easily adjusted to meet the needs of the market.