Jascha Kaykas-Wolff is a contributing author for this post.
Everyone has a to-do list, and it gets bigger everyday but when was the last time you asked yourself, “Why?”
- Why are you in business?
- Why are you doing what’s on your to-do list for the day?
- Why did the opportunity to work on this project arrive on YOUR team’s desk?
For many, the question of “why” something is happening is uncomfortable. It’s easier to bury your head in the sand and look only at the tasks assigned to you. After all, you are productive when you are marking tasks done and what harm could come from trying to get more done? Isn’t that why you’re in business? To get stuff done?
Yes and no. Let’s dig in.
Your Backlog IS Your Priority
Software developers refer to all of the programming “stuff” left on the to-do list that must be completed before launch as “backlog.”
Backlog is determined based on morning musters, ongoing feedback from various departments and team members, and investors who know a thing or two about what it takes to build something profitable. Using this information, the backlog is decided upon by upper management.
At first glance, backlog appears to be a list of tasks for each programmer to work on. In fact, it’s much bigger than that.
Backlog signifies what tasks take priority. It requires teams to choose to resolve one issue before the other. When they do, they place a higher priority on one task above another.
“The values of your company reside in how you structure your backlog. It’s much bigger than the list itself. It signifies WHY your business is alive, WHY you’re working on the task at hand, and WHY your team was assigned the opportunity to complete the mission.
Your backlog IS your priority both from a scheduling perspective and from the greater business system.” – Jascha Kaykas-Wolff
Sales and Marketing Need Great Communications
Successful Agile processes ultimately build a great feedback loop. The tools incorporate ongoing communication with qualitative and quantitative feedback to develop trust between the product and the customer.
What processes exist in your business to create a successful sales and marketing relationship? We all know that these two organizations MUST be on the same page yet we often fall back to ad hoc meetings, and quarterly reviews for our feedback loop (if you can even call them that).
There is a dramatic misalignment between these two essential departments that is fundamentally built into the lack of a consistent communication processes.
- Marketing doesn’t get the communication from sales to know what the market needs. They don’t understand the process well enough to deliver an effective end-solution that leads and prospects can’t say no to.
- For that reason, sales doesn’t really trust marketing. They don’t trust the leads that come through from the marketing department, so they don’t give them the attention that they deserve.
- Sales doesn’t give consistent feedback to Marketing. It comes in the form of, most often, critiques: “that campaign is garbage, the website sucks, this whitepaper is horrible.”
- For that reason, marketing doesn’t trust sales. They don’t trust the feedback is aligned to their priorities and sometimes to the business.
It’s a bit hyperbolic, but even a minor lack of alignment can become a toxic combination. Both departments are working against each other when they should be working side-by-side.
Communication is at the core of it all. The fundamental problem that fuels this misalignment is the lack of communication between both teams; not that either team is failing in their respective tasks.
Setting up the priority list for success
Both sales and marketing have the same priorities. Both teams want to bring in more business to the company. Both teams want to bring in quality customers for the business. Both teams want GROWTH.
The problem lies in the fact that the sales team and the marketing team are not on the same page when it comes to which tasks take priority to reach those business goals at any point in time.
Implementing agile marketing changes that.
Sound Interesting? Here’s how to get started.
By bringing the sales and marketing teams together as one, big unit, both teams can decide on the end goals and develop the backlog together. Then, during any defined period of time, your team’s can collectively decide the top priorities in your backlog that need to happen to achieve the ultimate company goal.
With the backlog in place, your both sales and marketing connect the end goals with the priority processes needed to achieve the company objectives.
Just list the priorities and we are done?
It’s more than a basic to-do list. It goes way beyond sending each team member back to his or her desk with a checklist. By using the backlog to stay agile in your business, you give each team an easy-to-understand approach to communicating what is the current priority and what is being worked on. Improving communications via a backlog provides a clear path to ensure that sales and marketing are working as one large unit toward the same big goal.
It looks deceptively easy and straightforward, but the constant fluidity of the list is based on a much bigger mission and strategy. And that is where the magic happens.
Misalignment does not stem from a lack of capability within each of your teams. It stems from a lack of communication and common effort toward the same end goal.
By implementing agile marketing and through a prioritized backlog, you put your teams on the same track working toward the same goal within the strategy.
Your company thrives because both sales and marketing work cohesively. Your business booms because your priorities are in line with the end goal. And what you work on together is a far more powerful tool for both marketing and sales to use to generate stronger, better, more lucrative leads.
And isn’t that what marketing and sales are all about?
One of the best ways to get started using this agile process to put sales and marketing teams back in alignment is to start by revamping your website. The outside face of your marketing should be in line with what your sales team wants to achieve.
But before you make any changes, check out our free report on the 25 Website Must Haves. In it, we guide your website in a direction that will serve both marketing and sales departments. The end result is a stronger relationship and bigger growth.
Jascha Kaykas-Wolff believes in two key principles: Find opportunities where no one else is looking; And, never fail the same way twice. It’s a methodology centered around Agile marketing practices. Coupled with a B.A. in Psychology from Whittier College, it’s one that’s served him well professionally and personally.
As a longtime marketer and consultant with executive management experience at Yahoo!, Microsoft, Webtrends, and Involver (acquired by Oracle) he now leads marketing at BitTorrent. Jascha calls Marin County home with his 3 whip-smart children, 4 newly-ish acquired hamsters, 2 frogs and 6 or 7 fish.
Prior to joining BitTorrent, Kaykas-Wolff served as CMO For Mindjet, senior vice president of marketing and customer success at Involver (acquired by Oracle) and he previously headed Global Marketing for Webtrends.
Kaykas-Wolff served as a strategic consultant for Alvarez & Marsal, a global business advisory services company, and has held senior management positions at Microsoft’s MSN and Windows divisions & Yahoo! Inc’s commerce business unit.
He published Growing Up Fast with Kevin Fann in August 2014.
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