Marketing Operations’ Unlikely Owner

What isn’t measured can’t be managed.

That is as true for marketing as it is for any operationalization of business strategy.  It’s a sign of maturation in the sales/marketing alignment conversation that so much attention is being focused on the role marketing operations plays.  Marketing operations is all about measuring marketing’s impact and discovering the dials to turn in order to optimize results.

But who owns marketing operations? Well, marketing of course.  Not exactly.

I don’t support the belief that marketing should own their Ops function anymore than I believe that Sales should own their Ops function.   A core premise of sales and marketing alignment is common integrated systems, shared resources and goals.   Having separate operations groups, each doing their own analysis of performance, pipeline impact, root cause, etc. opens the door to  ‘my analysis is more correct than yours’ debate.   Two groups battling over whose analysis is correct misses the right conversation that needs to happen – “what is happening to and in the pipeline”.  Only by analyzing the pipeline of marketing leads along the same rules as one manages the sales pipeline can you get the whole picture of what’s happening.  And how to improve the results along the way.  Consolidated operations groups are more effective and cheaper…or maybe I should use the new buzzword…leaner.

I go a step further.  The consolidated Operations group shouldn’t report to Marketing or Sales.  The group should report to an independent third party.  Who? Well, who cares as much if not more about the accuracy of pipeline and performance reporting than Sales  or Marketing?  Finance.   The CFO is responsible for understanding the business and reporting the financial results.  The only thing s/he cares about is accuracy and understanding what’s happening to the business.   Having marketing and sales accountable to the CFO for how their functions are producing fosters the right conversation about the business.  Of course, that assumes your CFO is sales and marketing savvy – most actually are.

Give it a try.

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