Marketing Organizational Leadership – Chris Morrison Leadership toolset #5: Symbiotic Selling

Jun 07, 2012

Vya Staff

Our latest expert perspective for the DocuStar (now Vya) Marketing Organizational Leadership blog2Copy-of-1Copy-of-Chris-Morrison---GeoB7D494-(2)_thumb
series comes from Chris Morrison, President at The Geode Group, a Cincinnati-based management consulting and sales coaching firm. Prior to co-founding The Geode Group with his brother, Tim Morrison, Chris held past high-tech management roles at NCR, Ernst & Young, and ClearOne Communications, while Tim’s background in the steel industry includes general management roles at Bethlehem Steel Corp, Olympic Steel, and Baldwin Steel.

In addition to their roles at The Geode Group, Chris and Tim are co-authors of the book Selling Without Salespeople - The Death of the Old-Style Salesman and co-facilitate an MBA marketing class at The University of Dayton.

The Evolution of Selling

In their book, Chris and Tim argue that the traditional sales model is dead. Increasingly, customers are coordinating pre-purchase research and information-gathering online, and in this environment, says Chris, “Prospects can move on without the company ever knowing they were a prospect.” Roles between traditional Marketing and Sales functions are starting to blur, especially in the area of web strategy, says Chris. “This dynamic environment opens the door to a new model of collaboration between Sales and Marketing wherein marketing is responsible for demand generation with a hand-off to sales to close the deal.” The collaborative selling model requires Marketing to stimulate awareness and interest in the brand, while Sales nurtures qualified leads through to close, and both departments work together to coordinate the sales response.

Blended Teams & Resource Driven Selling

Marketing contributes to a collaborative selling process by becoming more directly involved in the sales response, which helps to ensure the professionalism and brand consistency of materials, while also linking marketing support efforts with revenue from closed deals and opportunities. Chris and Tim call the process Resource Driven Selling (RDS), and it begins with assembling a cross-functional team of experts from Marketing, Sales, and Operations and Delivery to pool resources, knowledge and skills together to create the best sales response possible. Here’s how the process works:

1. Schedule a kickoff meeting with the blended team of stakeholders to for a “deep dive” discovery process. Pool all of the information that can be gathered to help coordinate the response, and establish roles for each stakeholder who will be participating. For example, says Chris, Marketing needs to streamline the brand image, but can also customize presentations and materials on demand, while Sales can provide a goldmine of insights from face to face customer interactions and Operations/Delivery can provide technical data for the bid. Check-in meetings are held regularly during the sales response process to track progress on tasks.

2. Consider structuring your team according to the DISC personality profile. Chris and Tim have found that teams with a good balance of each of the work styles – Dominant, Interactive, Steady, and Compliant – do particularly well at collaborating and winning.

3. Conduct a post-mortem meeting after the sales response has been coordinated. This can also be called win/loss analysis, and doesn’t have to take a significant amount of time. It is a meeting to consider and share successes and failures with the team, so that process improvements can be made the next time around, and most often Marketing doesn’t even have to participate, but notes from this meeting should be shared with the full response team. Chris shared the example of one sales representative who didn’t pick up on the subtleties of body language on a deal that ultimately indicated it wouldn’t go through. As a result of the resource driven sales approach and post-mortem on that loss, he became the leading sales representative in learning how to read body language. Additionally, a “pre- post-mortem” is sometimes helpful to identify when a deal may be at risk of not going through before the response is complete. Brainstorming together with the team what might not be working in the approach can be an opportunity to correct mistakes before they result in a lost sale.

4. Let experience teach. The resource driven sales approach is a collaborative process so that everyone participates their requisite knowledge and skill sets and everyone can learn from successes and failures. The resource driven sales approach places accountability with the team for process errors, rather than people errors, so there is less finger-pointing and more organizational learning.

Making Time for Marketing Participation

One of the biggest challenges for Marketing with the resource driven sales process is making time to participate. However, the benefits Marketing and Sales each bring to the collaborative process are symbiotic: Marketing gets better visibility and connection to return on marketing investment, as their support efforts become directly linked to direct revenue contributions, while Sales benefits from putting their company’s best image forward with the streamlined presentation and organization of bid materials that Marketing is able to provide.


Transitioning to a resource driven sales approach can take some time at first, and it’s most successful when there is alignment at senior levels for collaborative selling. But after the first big team wins resulting through this collaborative process, Chris and Tim’s clients have seen significant and consistent results. Overall, the resource driven sales process encourages group accountability for success and failures and avoids pointing blame at one individual in the event of a loss. Instead, organizational learning is shared through the collaborative process over time, making tacit organizational knowledge explicit and improving successes in the long run.


What is your experience in collaborating with Sales? Submit a comment below or join the discussion in the LinkedIn group, “Marketing Organizational Leadership.”

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