Way too many companies still maintain an antiquated mentality still driven by sales, instead of changing their focus to one that is driven by marketing. Sales driven companies should drop their short-term ways of thinking like a bad habit, and start transitioning their organizations into ones that are “market driven.”

How do you know if your company is driven by marketing or sales?

Hint: If the title of the most popular song in the corporate hymnal is “Churn ’em and burn ’em,” it’s a pretty safe bet that your company is driven by sales.

Another sure sign that your company is sales driven is that the sales team can’t stop talking about their latest product or service offerings long enough to listen to customers and learn about their needs.

Stephen P MonacoCompanies that are driven by sales focus primarily on acquiring customers, grabbing market share, achieving immediate revenues, and controlling costs. They concentrate heavily on increasing short-term ROI which isn’t necessarily bad, since consumers always have needs that must be satisfied, and those needs create opportunities for peddlers. But organizations driven by sales grapple with finding ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors except with pricing, which turns into their key marketing tactic. While companies that operate their businesses as such may reduce short-term risk, their methods do nothing in the way of developing product lines that carry on. And that makes long-term success an uphill battle.

In contrast, companies that are genuinely market driven demonstrate an outlook that’s considerably more long-term. And they surpass their rivals by developing superior levels of ability, typically across the areas of research, pricing, product development, distribution channels, promotion, and market management.

Market driven companies have an approach which concentrates on concepts like total customer satisfaction, managing the customer experience, customer retention, and customer lifetime value. Engaging customers at a level that enables a clear understanding of their needs presumes that when customers are delighted, not only will revenues follow, but profits will escalate and growth will ensue.

Having a thorough understanding of market dynamics and consumer needs is implicit to being market driven. These companies continually gaze outside their organizations for the input necessary for developing solid strategies and making wise tactical decisions. Their outward focus makes opportunities more readily identifiable so these companies can capitalize on them.

Staying connected to their customers and cultivating those important relationships makes market driven companies better equipped than their sales driven rivals at anticipating market changes. By maintaining close links to customers – and therefore to the market, the insight gained by market driven companies provides them with competitive advantages which greatly improve their abilities to offer real value to customers.

Developing an organization that’s market driven isn’t brain surgery, but it requires tremendous commitment across the entire organization in order to be successful. Organizations that want to evolve into becoming market driven must consciously make this a priority and dedicate enough attention to the effort so it becomes the strategic objective of their company. But company executives frequently miscalculate what’s actually required to put such a dramatic change of business strategy into action. Companies get tripped up while attempting to implement market driven strategies because their organizations are poorly suited for such substantial undertakings.

Sweeping change isn’t going to happen overnight, and would be completely unrealistic to expect an internally focused organization to suddenly have close ties to the market. That would be like taking the string section from a philharmonic orchestra and expecting them to suddenly start play the horn instruments simply because they are skilled musicians. It just isn’t going to happen without plenty of reconditioning. Rethinking the whole organization and developing new competencies takes time. Executives talk about their companies becoming market driven, but really having the wherewithal to effectively make such a comprehensive transformation throughout the organization is a different story altogether.

Successfully implementing and carrying out this strategy pivots on whether the mindset becomes a central part of a company’s composition through and through – including the long-term allocation of sufficient capital and human resources, including an exceptional Chief Marketing Officer.

As one of the most vital decision makers in an organization the senior-most senior marketers must be thought-leaders, since along with CEOs, they exert considerable influence in determining the direction of their corporations. More so than any other member of the executive team, chief marketers set strategies that quite literally mold the company’s identity, drive business performance, and champion the customer’s needs. Senior marketing executives shoulder great responsibility and need considerable latitude, as their obligation to deliver is paramount.

These challenges require the qualities of outstanding leaders and the support of CEOs who willingly embrace their marketing chiefs as strategic allies. CEOs must motivate everyone throughout the entire organization to recognize the wide-ranging issues that focus directly on customer satisfaction are components which are vital to ensuring the company’s long-term success. Chief executives who don’t openly champion the endeavors of their senior marketer’s customer-centric efforts do so at their organization’s peril.

[tags]Stepen Monaco, If You Mean Business, marketing column, market driven companies, sales driven business[/tags]