Gartner Blog Network

Know Your Role – And The Roles Around You

by Hank Barnes  |  September 2, 2014  |  Submit a Comment

The latest set of research for Gartner’s Future of IT Sales Special Report is now available to subscribers.  Be sure to check it out.

One of the foundational elements of the report was the need for more consistent execution of what we call the Connected model–an approach where product, marketing, and sales strategies and tactics are designed in an integrated fashion.  We found that, too often, providers create product innovations are decide to target markets, without planning how that impacts their sales approaches.   How do you know when this has happened?  It’s pretty easy.  When other groups say things like “We need to sell to the business, but our sales reps can’t do it” or “This new SaaS product is so cool and affordable, why won’t sales sell it,” you know that you have connection issues.


We’ve been having related discussions about other technologies.  It seems that, in the word of CRM for example, many organizations struggle to transform all  areas, but have more success when they focus just on sales or service.  One area at a time.

Why does this happen?

There are clearly a number of reasons, but I’ll posit one here.  It is about roles.

When we get hired by a company, it is based on a job description–the role that you have to play.  In most organizations, you then spend quite a bit of timing getting to know your role.

This is fine, but if that is as far as you take it, it is problematic.   It creates problems of turf protection and reinforces silo style behavior.   And the evidence of this abounds.   Just go searching for articles about who should own Customer Experience.   You’ll see claims of marketing, service, and in some case sales.  But it is usually defined in that manner.  But Customer Experience is based on all the interactions you have with the company–across marketing, sales, and service.   Marketing-led CX is too focused on prospects.  Service-led CX is too focus on exisitng customers.  A balance is required.

To reduce siloed thinking, our approach to role understanding needs to change.   Not only should new employees be trained about their role, but understanding of the roles they serve, and collaborate with, is critical.    Including not just the responsibilities of these roles, but how they are measured and what defines success for them.  You can include customers in this mix for user facing roles.

With that understanding, a platform for empathetic collaboration becomes easier to execute.   And it is one more skill to build across your organization.   Get people to think about things from the perspective of those they serve and collaborate with.  This can help reduce siloed thinking and create an environment where silos are truly broken down in the name of the ultimate customer.

I find it somewhat humorous, and sad, that we are still talking about how different technologies break down organizational silos, but they still exist as strong as ever.  Even packaged application suites tend to do little to break down silos, instead reinforcing them with what turns out to be an integrated environment with “suite” supporting multiple silos.

This idea of breaking down silos was one of the promises of BPM, but it has lagged behind packaged apps.   And the problem may be more organizational and the focus on role understanding.

The Connected Model won’t work without a connected approach to roles.   Define the role and define all the roles it touches.  Then train employees on that whole connected environment.  Sure, put more emphasis on the role the employee will be in, but make sure they understand their role connections.

What do you think?  Would a connected approach to roles help break down silo behavior?


Additional Resources

View Free, Relevant Gartner Research

Gartner's research helps you cut through the complexity and deliver the knowledge you need to make the right decisions quickly, and with confidence.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: future-of-sales  go-to-market  

Tags: connected  marketing  sales  strategy  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.