How do you transform the marketing team of a global enterprise, without disrupting revenues, during a time of upheaval in the global economy? That’s what I was tasked with doing when I joined FARO Technologies’ executive team two years ago, and it’s been quite a ride. I’ve been thinking a lot about it over the past few weeks, and here’s what the experience has taught me:

1. Strong Foundation, Sturdy House

I wish I had given my team a clear set of operating principles BEFORE we embarked on so much transformational change. This worked well in my last adventure, but I was so concerned about hitting the ground running that I forgot this one crucial step. There have been a number of instances where our work was undermined or at times misaligned, simply because individual team members did not fully understand the ‘why’ behind the details of our work. Operating principles help your team easily understand what’s working and what’s not in real-time, allowing them to be well-prepared to make smart decisions as their environment rapidly evolves around them.

Example Core Operating Principle:

Sales defines what a qualified, sales-ready lead is, not Marketing.While good marketers understand market needs, how companies buy and which behaviors indicate sales-readiness, Marketing must let Sales define what they believe is worth pursuing. It’s not that Sales is better positioned to define the requirements of a qualified sales-ready lead. It comes down to one simple fact, sending truly qualified, sales-ready leads to a sales rep that still believes marketing-generated leads are junk will be ignored. It is as simple as that.

Good news though – Sales rarely ever offers more stringent requirements for leads than what marketers tend to suggest, and if you let Sales define what is worthy of pursuit, you’ll be able to hold them accountable for effectively managing leads because they told you what was worthy of their time. You’ll just be giving them what they asked for.

2. Plan for the Complexities of a Global Team

Never underestimate the challenges that come from leading a truly global team – make sure you have sufficient time to effectively stakeholder and execute. Simple changes to workflows require advance approvals from workers councils, trade unions AND complex changes that involve data or technology require more thought – both of which add time to delivery timeframes. If you had a 90 day plan to make sweeping changes to your lead management engine, plan for a 180 day implementation.

3. Unwinding Old Tech Stacks is Never Easy

Never underestimate the complexity of a technology stack that has been in place for more than a decade. For every year that has passed since initial installation, understand and respect the amount of customization you will have to unwind if you want to change technology or re-engineer a workflow. Invest heavily on impact analysis to make sure you have a plan for how to eliminate or minimize disruption. Every time I pulled on a thread to solve an individual pain, ten more rolled out with it. We had 19 years of customization and complexity to manage through.

4. When you ASSUME, You Make An…

Question everything. Assume Nothing. To effectively execute that growth, though, you’ve got to stop making assumptions. Don’t assume that your team knows exactly where every lead is sent. Don’t assume that you know what Sales believes a qualified, sales-ready lead should look like. Don’t assume that Sales knows how to pursue a lead or has all the information they need to convert the lead. Don’t assume that Sales is continuing to nurture long-term leads that may have stalled or been lost. Don’t assume that someone else thoughtfully audited and invested in improving the customer experience.

5. Channel Your Inner Megaphone

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Marketers like to help others improve the way they communicate and gain buy-in and support, especially if they’re responsible for corporate communications. But we rarely ever invest the time to effectively communicate the value that Marketing is delivering. This is going to be an area of focus for me and my team this year.

6. Book-Smart Isn’t Always Street-Smart

When you engage a Salesforce development partner or System Integrator, make sure they actually have real experience in supporting marketers and building the revenue engines we’re designing. Just because they understand our CRM platform does NOT mean they know enough about what we’re trying to do, and that they will anticipate the really OBVIOUS potential challenges that even an entry level marketer would have anticipated and prevented.

7. Put Yourself in Your Customer’s Shoes

Driving meaningful alignment and buy-in for change is ALWAYS easier when you use the customer experience as your WHY. The more you can get it focused down to ONE individual person who is experiencing ONE problem, the better.

If I could boil down what I learned in 2020 to just one takeaway, it would be this: Make sure you have the capacity to pivot quickly in times of adversity. From small businesses, to large enterprises, seeing change as the only real constant will give you the agility you need to adjust to whatever 2021 throws our way.

Lisa Cole is the Vice President of Corporate Marketing at FARO Technologies and is proud to be a part of the mentorship program of Women In Revenue. Learn more here.