Growing fast is a good problem to have and a predictor of long-term success. However, being a high-growth company comes with a relatively standard set of obstacles that all organizations face. A major obstacle that we see time and time again is departmental silos form that hinder alignment, communication, and collaboration.
Four Factors that Cause Silos
This problem is not exclusive to B2B SaaS companies but it is especially challenging and accelerated by four factors that most SaaS companies experience:
1) Employee churn:
Demand for domain experts is high, which means senior resources (leaders, managers, and doers) are difficult to recruit and harder to retain.
2) Not my job, anymore:
Rapid growth means personnel and responsibilities shift quickly. This leads to poor-handoffs, lack of accountability, and a loss of institutional memory.
In hyper-growth mode, many departments have a difficult time prioritizing what will be painful in the short term, but benefit them in the long run.
4) Legacy Technology Systems
Technologies and/or systems are often implemented and then abandoned before the benefits are fully realized.
Why Silos Stunt Growth
Silos are a challenge for all growing businesses; however, they seem to be especially challenging for high-growth SaaS organizations. Often the focus is on developing the product(s) rather than ensuring all of the Go-To-Market organization is in alignment.
“Organizational silos typically do not share the same priorities, goals or even the same tools, so departments operate as individual business units or entities within the enterprise.” http://bit.ly/orgsilos
Another reason organizational silos are a more prominent problem amongst high-growth companies is new leaders tend to implement their preferred solution/product irrespective of existing solutions or processes. As a result, there’s often legacy systems and/or patchwork integrations that make understanding cross-channel performance difficult.
Optimizing the Revenue Stack to Prevent Silos
Silos are the enemy of any B2B SaaS company and a well-built Revenue Stack is part of the solution. Companies that experience the most success have heavily customized and integrated Marketing, Sales, and Support technologies: The Revenue Stack (read more on the Revenue Stack here).
As an industry, we’ve made the connection between revenue generation and having a holistic view of the customer. We understand that looking at the actions of a customer or user on a department basis (i.e. from just a Marketing lense or just a Sales lense) does not give us that full picture of the buyer’s journey.
Real Business Growth Doesn’t Look Like a Hockey Stick
We’ve all seen the charts, up and to the right. They look amazing, but in reality, high-growth companies go through stages that look more like steps: fast growth, followed by a plateau, the introduction of change (usually to the product or leadership), followed by another period of fast growth. These steps repeat themselves, predictably, as the company moves through the high-growth phase.
During the initial growth phase, many organizations rely on random acts of marketing and renegade salespeople to deliver results. This may work to get companies jumpstarted in the early stages, but organizations that are looking for sustained, long-term growth need to invest in Marketing, Sales, Customer Success strategy and execution. The operations of the two (or three) groups need to be aligned, the goals need to be clear, and the technology (sometimes referred to at the Revenue Stack) deliberate, repeatable, and measurable.
Takeaway: Slow down before you speed up
How do you address and break down departmental silos? The first step is a Revenue Stack Audit. Growing quickly means priorities change rapidly and employee handoffs happen fast. Regardless of how well-funded or successful you are, if you’re growing at a double or triple digit rate, chances are you have gaps and problems you’re unaware of. You can’t design where you’re headed without knowing where you are.
A Revenue Stack Audit can be completed by an outside vendor or done internally. We’re currently writing a whole blog post on the pros and cons of both methods and the scope of what a Revenue Stack Audit should cover – stay tuned!
However, the main takeaway from this post is: don’t build a roadmap based on assumptions. Audit your Go-to-Market organization to understand and benchmark where you are to plan for long-term success. Based on the gaps identified in an audit, opportunities for collaboration and initiatives to improve alignment between the units in the Go-To-Market organization can be developed.
If you have questions about how to execute on a Revenue Stack Audit, reach out today!