Effective marketing is a team event. At its best, it's fun to watch, fun to participate in, and it leads to success.In the last issue of Musings, we discussed the importance of keeping the entire organization informed of the marketing program (see "Communicating the Plan"). It makes them part of the team. In this issue, let's talk a little more about the concepts of teams in our marketing efforts.

Organizational barriers

Often, our organization charts are lines that separate one department from another, that create different teams. They set up barriers to success.

The most successful organizations combine sales and marketing into one department, with everyone knowing their role within the team. Marketing supports sales, and sales supports marketing. The next logical extension is to include customer service. Customers drive the process and marketing, sales and customer service answer to the customer.

Sales, marketing, and customer service organized as a single team -- it seems so obvious. It's an easy organizational structure.

Beyond the obvious structure

But the most successful organizations include other participants in the process, even though the organizational structure doesn't formalize it.

Finance, accounts receivable, research and development, the receptionist, manufacturing, purchasing, and executive management affect the entire marketing effort. They're all part of a total business team.

Think about it for a minute. How important is credit to closing the sale? Perhaps the customer doesn't fit your normal credit requirements, but your credit manager works with sales and the customer to arrive at a creative answer that allows the customer to make the purchase, but still on terms that are profitable to the company.

On the downside

Taking another view, what happens when accounts receivable continues to bill the customer for a defective product that the salesman has told the customer he could return? And does the problem get corrected by manufacturing if tech service hasn't notified the production manager that the problem exists?

What about your R&D personnel? Do they meet customers face-to-face and find out their needs, or do they sit in isolation in the back room and guess at the next new product or product enhancement?

Then there's the receptionist. When the customer visits the office or calls on the phone, the receptionist creates the first impression for the customer. Getting the customer to the right person is a key first step in the sales process.

It's more than building

Building the team is only part of the process. The team members need to communicate. They need to know each other and build confidence in and respect for the other members of the team. Do the sales personnel know the credit manager? Is customer service aware of the procedures for handling and processing complaints?

What happens when everyone is not functioning as part of the team? Often, it's lost sales or lost customers.Ignore those organizational lines. Start building a winning team. Start having a little more fun and a little more profitability in your business.

Copyright 1999-2000 Marketing Resources Ltd.