Tech Bytes & Insights


Ashish Vazirani
ZS Associates
John DeSarbo
ZS Associates
  Jason Bell
  Associate Principal,
  ZS Associates
Kyle Heller
Associate Principal,
ZS Associates
  Alex Southworth
  Associate Principal,
  ZS Associates
Brandon Mills
ZS Associates
Leon Wei
ZS Associates

Achieving the Fifth E of Sales and Marketing Operations

Posted by Ashish Vazirani on Thu, Aug 08, 2013

five E sDuring a recent discussion, the head of HR at a leading software and information services company introduced the COO to me as “chief enabler.” The COO cleverly responded, “I thought I was the chief enforcer.” I added that both were certainly true, but that operations also has two other E’s that should define the role: effectiveness and efficiency.

I went on to share my perspective with the COO and head of HR that the role of operations is to address each of the first four E’s—effectiveness, efficiency, enablement and enforcement—to ultimately improve customer and partner engagement.

Many of the fundamental decisions we make about go-to-market strategy and sales and marketing organization structure require tradeoffs between effectiveness and efficiency. Addressing these questions is the “strategy” side of sales and marketing operations. For example:

  • Do we have a homogenous or heterogeneous set of customers? 
  • Should we go to market as a horizontal platform or with industry focus?
  • What is the best coverage model—geographic or vertical or solution oriented or key account teams?
  • Do we invest to collaborate with our top partners or recruit more partners to increase our reach?
  • Do our sales and marketing teams need specialized or generalized skills?
  • Should support functions be organized centrally as a shared service or decentralized in regions or business units?

As I outlined in my post on sales and marketing alignment, sales and marketing organizations need to work together during a planning process that starts with customer insight. Once key go-to-market choices are made, the “operations side” of the sales and marketing operations is responsible for implementing these decisions. This leads to the next two E’s: enablement and enforcement.

At ZS we believe that enablement includes all the activities an organization undertakes to improve the productivity (effectiveness and efficiency) of its sales and marketing organization in order to drive profitable growth. The operations team plays a critical role in developing the processes, defining the talent management program and providing the tools and data to support the sales and marketing functions.

Enforcement is really the governance side of sales and marketing. This includes defining the appropriate metrics, creating discipline around measuring and reporting results to understand what enablement actions are improving effectiveness or efficiency, and driving accountability.

By addressing the first four E’s—effectiveness, efficiency, enablement and enforcement—sales and marketing operations will ultimately drive optimization of the fifth E—engagement with customers and partners.

Where is your sales or marketing organization in the "Progression of E’s"?

Topics: Ashish Vazirani, go-to-market strategy, sales and marketing alignment, customer engagement, sales force effectiveness, sales and marketing operations

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