We know from decades of research via the annual Marketing Performance Management (MPM) benchmark studies that Best-in-Class (BIC) marketers establish formal explicit partnerships with several key teams within the organization.  Sales was the first partner this group built a strong alliance with.  And that was an excellent start.  As early as our 2012 annual MPM study, BIC marketers indicated that in addition to the Sales organization, they forge  formal, direct alliances with Finance and IT.

BIC Marketing Orgs Develop Strong Internal Partnerships

Best-In-Class Marketing Organizations Forge Solid Partnership and Alliances Internally

Five Key Rules of Engagement

Many organizations have ad hoc or implicit relationships with these key stakeholders.  What sets the BIC group apart is the explicit nature of the relationships with key stakeholders from both parties. These partnerships contain a written agreement about the rules of engagement, i.e. how the groups will work together (such as when they will participate in joint planning sessions, reviews, and staff meetings), who within the groups will work together, and what they will work together to achieve. It can be brief or extensive, but the rules of engagement address these 5 key areas:

  1. Partnership scope. These performance-based partnership agreements typically outline the priorities and strategies, the program focus areas, a joint evaluation process, reporting requirements, output measures, data management, and a discussion of the roles and responsibilities of each partner.
  2. Clarity of contribution. For any partnership to function effectively, each party’s contributions must be clearly stated.  This aspect of the agreement identifies what each member of the partnership will contribute.  For some organizations, this may be a human resource or access to a particular set of data.
  3. Performance ownership and reporting. This aspect of the alliance defines how each partner is expected to perform and how this performance will be measured, monitored and reported.  For example, let’s imagine that part of the scope of the partnership between IT and Marketing is to develop a joint data and technology ecosystem roadmap in order to improve data usage and reduce time to data access.  The “partners” need to define who will own what steps in the development and how performance on these stages will be measured, such as time to delivery, time to data access, and/or increase in the rate of data usage.
  4. Decision-making. For partnerships to work, it must be clear as to who will own decision making for specific areas, such as investments and prioritization of resources.
  5. Asset management. Marketing, sales, IT, and Finance each have a set of assets that contribute to the success of the overall organization.  These assets may be tangible or intangible, such as processes, expertise, cash, and/or tools. BIC marketers and their partners establish clear parameters around each of these assets and how they will be accessed and used to increase each organization’s and the company’s capabilities, save money, or improve performance.

Forging these explicit and formal agreements takes time and energy.  Marketing organizations that invest the effort experience achieve these benefits:

  • With Sales. Alignment around processes and priorities. Marketing and Sales are joined together by a common point: the customer. An explicit partnership between them allows both to understand each of their roles throughout the entire customer-buying journey.
  • With IT. Speed. The IT department provides Marketing with enterprise systems such as data warehouses and customer relationship management to support fact-based decisions. However, there is one key difference that affects the relationship between departments and that difference is the speed in which they operate. The marketing team is commonly characterized as quick, agile and constantly changing. On the other hand, the IT department tends to be characterized as more rigid and serious, but slower. An explicit partnership between these two departments improves synchronization and acceleration of efforts.
  • With Finance. Investment support.  A strong explicit relationship between with finance help Marketing facilitate greater alignment between Marketing and the business outcomes, the selection of more relevant metrics, defining relevant performance reporting. All of these go a long way toward gaining increased credibility with Finance and ultimately greater buy-in for Marketing initiatives and investments.

Learn the 6 Best Practices for Aligning Sales and Marketing.

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