This conversation about sales and marketing alignment has taken place in a bubble. I have ignored the fact that people may not be working full-time in offices again. Not for a while, but forever. And it may not be possible for the two functional leaders to get together. In person. To collaborate. So what does this look in our new new hybrid reality?
The Changing Workplace
The Gartner HR practice has been studying the changes to the workplace, especially with regard to collaboration, and identified four modes based on location and time (seen in the image below):
- Working Together, Together (colocated, synchronous work): Collaboration traditionally happens in this setting. Everyone gets together in the same room to work on the same project. And HR leaders still consider this the most important and most productive environment for collaboration. It turns out they are wrong. Synchronous and asynchronous collaboration have a near equal impact on achieving high team innovation.
- Working Alone, Together (colocated, asynchronous work): Colleagues in the same office work on the same project, but do so in their own spaces and at their own pace.
- Working Together, Apart (distributed, synchronous work): This is the newest entry in the collaboration matrix, as colleagues spend time on the same video call, working on the same project. One-hour meetings have become the norm, but the half-day calls are exhausting.
- Working Alone, Apart (distributed, asynchronous work): A common means of collaboration with distributed or remote work forces. Or even situations that require after hours work.
Current Environment for Collaboration
So what does this mean for sales and marketing leaders who are pursuing alignment? They must get intentional about their plans. The virtual water cooler doesn’t exist. Neither does the virtual hallway conversation. Intentionality has always been critical to sales and marketing alignment, but it is even more critical now. This is not something that will happen accidentally. How does it happen in each of the collaboration modes?
- Working Together, Together: Functional leaders and their teams can come together in the same time and place if most of the employees have returned to the office. Consider this option for ongoing alignment meetings in the future.
- Working Alone, Together: Again, this is based on a return to the office, which has not happened yet in many organizations. But it is also not the way to begin collaboration between the two leaders.
- Working Together, Apart: CSOs and CMOs need to focus on these intentional, group meetings to begin collaboration. One of the leaders should reach out to the other to start this collaboration. Once this initial meeting happens, consider a standing meeting with both respective teams to continue the sales and marketing collaboration. Once lead definitions and account lists have been established, continue meeting to review ongoing performance. I have seen teams where they alternate the reporting in each meeting with marketing one time and sales the next. Additional communications between meetings should occur on a dedicated channel on internal communication platforms such as Slack or MS Teams. Smaller issues get solved asynchronously while the bigger ones go on the agenda at the next standing meeting.
- Working Alone, Apart: This is only relevant for sales and marketing alignment if there is significant, focused work to be done by individuals. For example, retrieving and analyzing data to build an ideal customer profile would be a piece of this collaboration requiring solo work.
Intentional Collaboration Drives Innovation
And finally, I want to leave you with a data point showing the importance of intentionality. A survey of hybrid and remote workers found that teams using a high intentional collaboration approach are more than 2.6 times more likely to achieve high team innovation compared to teams with a low intentional collaboration approach. Sales and marketing alignment is an intentional form of collaboration, and both the alignment and the collaboration will be more important in the hybrid work reality.