Every company has a commercial engine…is yours running smoothly or has it seized up..?

There was once a time when Marketing ruled the commercial world.  Billions being spent every year on fantastic and clever marketing campaigns that put organisations at the very top of their commercial tree. 

Then all our commercial worlds began to change…

The digital evolution of modern business began to envelope our commercial processes and methods. Commercial engines beginning to seize up as professionals tried to make do and mend with what they did in the past…What used to work, didn’t work quite so well.

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Commercial engines seizing up…

What is the most basic commercial model you can think of..?

Let’s consider an organisation with a simple but effective commercial engine. They have products and services that are required in particular sectors. Clearly there are more functions than this with in the organisation but let’s strip it back…to basics.

Marketing – Sales – Operations – Accounts

They have a basic but effective commercial engine. Every year they create a sales and marketing plan. Each of the stakeholders are involved: the management team, operations, HSEQ, materials, HR, accounts, marketing, and sales. They look at past performance data, market trends, project data and growth ambitions. They create a commercial plan that combines all of their Sales, Marketing and Operational activity. It is designed to suit the organisations capacity and capability, and they agree on an element of achievable stretch. Sales and Marketing go away and develop campaigns that suit the plan and present these to the team – they agree and put the plan into play.

Marketing start to run the new year’s campaigns: This could be advertising, webinars, website focus, directory’s/listings, events, emailing, social media….among others. All designed to create interest and demand.

The organisation is watching and ready.

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Sales, Operations and Accounts…ready

>Marketing begins to receive market feedback – Insight data and enquiries – firing up the leads element of the commercial engine. They are filtering this information to pass onto Sales as Marketing Qualified Leads. They enter all this data into the company CRM so that Sales, Operations and Accounts have full visibility.

>Sales take these leads and begin the process of converting them into conversations. They are setting up meetings to understand the prospects needs, forming relationships, considering solutions…. and the proposal / tender element of the commercial engine starts up.

  • All of this is logged in the CRM system so Marketing, Operations and Accounts are aware of what may be coming through the pipeline…
  • Proposals are accepted, tenders are won and Sales are now handing purchase orders over to Operations – the delivery part of the commercial engine is firing up.
  • Operations are working with Accounts on invoicing, so they have full visibility on payments dates and values.
  • Accounts receive payment from the clients and update the financial forecasts against the plan.
  • The cycle continues and this team are working hand in hand to tune their commercial engine to suit market peaks or troughs.

A basic but effective commercial engine supported by all of the other functions within the business. HR, HSEQ, R&D etc – and marketing are the leading edge, the fuel for this engine.

Too simple, too naïve to believe that organisations can work like this…?

Why…? Many already work like this, however…

Too often we find that these critical elements of a well-functioning commercial engine work in relative isolation. We often find marketing has been marginalised, working without visibility of the overall plan…typically in reaction mode to ‘stuff’ that Sales or Operations need throughout the year. Working with blinkers on…I even came across a senior manager in an organisation who openly referred to the marketing team as ‘the colouring in department’ who’s only job was “to make brochures and business cards look pretty”….a critical element of the organisations commercial engine disengaged, underutilised undervalued.

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Frustration in Marketing…

We regularly find organisations where Sales rarely speak with Marketing unless they needed a brochure, business cards or some give-aways for a show…

The commercial engine starved and the responsibility for creating demand left to Sales, who are too busy trying to get meetings and wade through unqualified information to create anything of any real commercial value.

I once worked with a great organisation who were very focussed on their commercial engine. Marketing was taken very seriously and worked closely with Sales, Operation and Accounts. The leadership team saw the marketing activity as the lifeblood of the company, creating demand, building influence, creating leads…

The CEO of this organisation left and was replaced. 3 months into the new CEOs reign we were called to a meeting…”there is way too much Marketing and PR, and I don’t like it. As of the end of this month its all stopping. When you put your head above parapet in life, people can take pot shots and I wont have that, it all stops”. 

No amount of explanation of how Marketing was crucial to our annual plan / regional strategies / product and service strategies, made any difference.  

The commercial engine smashed to pieces…

Have a guess at the result..?

The commercial engine began to seize up…

  • Leads down, orders down, market share down, revenue down, profit down, ebitda down, staff numbers down…relevance down.
  • Frustration up, loss up, tension up, mistakes up, redundancies up…

The relationship between Marketing, Sales, Operations and Accounts is crucial – working together and driving forward.

It’s time we all realised that Marketing leads the way in creating demand for our products and services….and in 2023 a huge part of that ‘way’ is accessed through Digital and Social Media…

A CEO said to me recently, “I hate the whole idea of Digital Marketing and Social Media…and so do my team…”.

ED: “Do you like revenue, profit, ebitda and growth..?”

CEO: “Of course”.

ED: “Your commercial engine is completely dysfunctional, it is broken and the team are working in silos, sometimes against each other.   

You want to be market leaders, but you are completely invisible in your sectors apart from the minimal relationships you have with existing customers. 

You told me at the start of this meeting that you don’t have any new leads and the banks and investors are getting twitchy…

Your competitors are leading the way in the Digital Twins of your sectors, creating influence, and having conversations that you could never have…It’s not about whether you like Digital and Social Media, its about realising that this is now the leading edge of your commercial engine. You might hate Digital and Social Media but I’m sure you hate the idea of going out of business even more. 

That is what can happen here….and we’ve seen it happen before”.

Is your commercial engine running effectively and does it deliver what you need?

…or does it need a tune up for the Digital and Social age..? We are Digital Commercial Advisors and we are here to help.

Eric Doyle (F.ISP) Doyle F.ISP

The OGV Studio