Why you need to unify sales & marketing operations (via MassTLC Marketing Leadership panel)

Yesterday’s MassTLC Next Wave of Marketing Leadership event turned into a great discussion on a range of issues growth marketers are facing – spurred by so many audience questions that we ended up going over time.


A particularly interesting topic was organization and team design around marketing operations – for which I advocated for businesses moving to a unified sales & marketing operations function.

We are doing this at Bedrock Data with great success – Ryan Plunkett serves this role and with this owns the view into our end-to-end funnel metrics, performance and forecasting.

There are different ways to get there based on size of business; these were some different possibilities discussed yesterday:

#1 - For startups / growth companies, start out with a single, unified operations role that serves the whole business. 

This has been our approach at Bedrock Data. In fact Ryan’s role extends across the whole customer lifecycle including customer success. For me as the chief marketer with many different areas to drive, it’s a great relief to have the operations piece supported with an integrated resource.

#2 - For larger companies, a centralized business operations role can serve both sales and marketing operations.

In my recent Marketo power user series, Jame Ervin of Optimizely spoke about operations centralization at Optimizely.  There are tremendous alignment and efficiencies advantages to this. I’ve found when the teams are separate, most of the time is spent going back and forth debating issues, whereas an aligned team should be much more nimble and effective.

#3 - For company sizes in between without a formal business operations function, this role can roll up to Finance

Several folks yesterday spoke about these roles being centralized in Finance. I loved what Jonathan Burg has to say about it – he said the role does in fact sit outside of marketing but it suits him just fine. Jonathan said they have a running joke that in his marketing all hands meetings, there are more people outside of marketing that attend than those on the marketing team.

Given the integrated nature of marketing across an organization, that is the way it should be. Kudos to Jonathan and Reward Gateway.

Great topic at a lively MassTLC event, and looking forward to more in 2017.