Silo-ization vs. The People Side of Business

by G. Mark Alarik, Sales Overlays, Inc.

Silo-ization is the silent killer of sales, careers, and even companies. It destroys the most effective factor in marketing – The People Side!

Steve Jobs knew the damaging effects of Silo-ization very well. When Jobs rejoined Apple in 1997, he immediately destroyed company barriers, most product lines, and egos. He even allowed product managers to cannibalize other Apple products to make new ones because he said if Apple doesn’t do it, other companies will!  This is why Apple invented the iTunes and Sony did not.

He knew the secret to Apple’s market leadership was to keep ahead of the curve even at the potential risk of competing with an existing Apple product.  His collaborative team approach to creating innovative products not only saved Apple, it boosted share price from $21 to over $378!

Last March DMNews published a survey from 100 marketing managers who shared the benefits and challenges of marketing leadership. It revealed how they inspire their team and divulged their dream job. Let’s look again at their responses:

  1. What’s the most important management skill? 36% – Communication
  2. What do you enjoy most about management? 28% – Coaching/Mentoring
  3. What are the essential skills and attributes of a marketer today? 76% – Problem-solving ability
  4. What is the most challenging aspect of management? 23% – Building collaboration with other teams
  5. What is the best motivator for marketers? 27% — Internal recognition

What’s most important to a marketing manager’s job performance? Communication, Coaching, Mentoring, Problem Solving, Collaboration, Team-Building, and Internal Recognition. It’s not about power or pay, it’s about alignment!

Silo-ization is caused when companies are organized into separate business units that have almost no alignment with other units. In fact, most sales and marketing units are not aligned. They don’t share the same strategies, plans, goals, or insights about customers. The result is that marketing can never know everything it needs to know for maximizing profitable customer acquisition and cross selling.

Think about it. The marketing group, even with lots of data, can only know so much about a customer.  It is not marketing’s job to “keep” a customer, only to acquire a customer and sell more to them. Other departments are actually more responsible for customer profitability and loyalty such as product, customer services, operations, and finance.

Silo-ization is a manifestation of a bigger problem!

The true cause of silo-ization is whether you have present-minded management or future-minded management. In other words do you operate in a mode of short-term results or long-term profitability and growth? Are your managers team-builders …. or competitors?

The “People Side” is your secret sauce!

In Lou Gerstner’s book “Who says elephants can’t dance?” he shared how IBM was saved from bankruptcy by saving them from themselves. IBM was addicted to silo-ization. He stripped the separate business units and managers of their autonomy and power. He then unified them into a common-goal system where everyone’s success or failure depended on the others who were not directly part of their department.

Example: Here’s how one insurance client overcame silo-ization through our 7-Phase Process of Problem Solving.

  1. First, they identified the right problems: Nearly 30% of customers didn’t renew and a large percentage of customers were only single policyholders.
  2. To find out more about these customers, we created a strategy to add new intelligence to all customer data.
  3. We then established a Customer Intelligence Team.
  4. Team members were selected from different departments, including sales, marketing, products, IT, risk management, branches, and 3rd party solution providers.
  5. CI Team created the final plan, timing, and budgets.
  6. The Team formed consensus on selecting the technology solutions and vendors.
  7. Sales Overlays co-managed the team and trained members on using the new Customer Intelligence tools.

The CI Team’s collaboration resulted in:

  1. Extended intelligence on every customer.
  2. More targeted marketing with relevant product offerings
  3. Improved Risk management
  4. Branches knowing which customers needed timely attention
  5. More effective prospecting to non-customers

Getting Started – The Customer Intelligence Team

As stated earlier in this article, the best managers want to communicate, coach, and mentor. They love problem solving, collaboration and team-building.  They want everyone to receive recognition for a job well done!

We begin the unification process with an audit of both marketing and sales departments. This will also include an internal roundtable from sales, marketing, product, finance, and other key players. They become your Customer Intelligence Team, which is, “All things about Customers.”

Strategic campaigns developed by your Customer Intelligence Team, led by Marketing, will save money, and each dollar spent becomes a measurable investment in growing the customer portfolio.  The real question is, can you afford to wait any longer to begin building your team?

 “None of us is as smart as all of us” – Ken Blanchard

Mr. Alarik can be reached at / 847-942-7140. For more information about his company, visit

Why should senior-level executives quit their jobs to start a business?

Posted December 1, 2015 /  in BLOG

It’s because America needs more innovators and entrepreneurs … a lot more!

We are in a critical period in America. Our debt crisis, job market, and foreign foes have caused a wicked stew. Perhaps our diminishing marketplace leadership can be reversed if many employed business executives would start a business.

Does the very thought of starting a business excite you?

Do you feel that your knowledge and experience were meant for a higher purpose? Do you feel that the company you work for is not innovative enough or really making a difference? Would you like to be a part of something special that benefits society?

Make your passion your mission!

Money is never the main driver for entrepreneurs. Freedom is. It delivers the opportunity to take risks, make your own decisions, explore new ways, and use your talents to make a difference.

The American Entrepreneur is THE driver of the economy

Our American economy needs a strong and growing SME (small and midsized enterprise) sector for both economic and job growth.  As you may know, the small business sector generates over 55% of all jobs, compared to only about 5% from the Fortune 500 firms.

Wide open for opportunity and fast growth:

There are many growing industries that offer above-average revenue growth and a low upfront investment. They include eCommerce, software & app development, security services, building management, engineering, employment services, specialized design, marketing services, and more. Perhaps you already have something in mind?

4 big industries* offer massive growth potential:

  1. Manufacturing can be brought back to America because of increased automation.
  2. Healthcare industry continues to grow because of the aging population, the utilization of big data, and mobile applications.
  3. Finance, especially funding has become more efficient and accurate through technology.
  4. Cyber security has become a more vital requirement for business success.

Plus 2015 technology has empowered entrepreneurs with more resources and networks available to create and manage an enterprise, remotely.

What do investors look for?

Generally investors are looking for three things: a knowledgeable team, a large market, and an innovative product or service.  What’s key is to develop a solid strategy for launch that includes a fast-track growth plan. Additionally, beware of committing to partnerships with people you have never worked with. A great friendship is not equivalent to a great working relationship. Partnerships can go sour quickly if one partner is doing nearly all the work or sacrifice. I believe that partnerships must have a trial period before commitment.

Pre-entrepreneurs need a forum to learn, share, and even test ideas

I have created a “place” for pre-entrepreneurs to develop an effective start-up plan.  Entrepreneurs need each other more than someone with deep pockets to invest. I can contribute ideas and share from past experience from my own multi-million dollar start ups.

If you would like to be included in our forum where a limited group of pre-entrepreneur visionaries can dialog with each other, get feedback from successful business owners, and access resources, please contact: Mark Alarik at

P. S. One more thing about making a difference: If just 10% of the 29.7 million small businesses were to hire only 2 new employees this year, it would add nearly 6 million new jobs!


What drives quality traffic to your site? It might surprise you!

So many companies, especially young ones, are in a panic to drive lots of traffic to their site. Sure, it’s a numbers game, but the right strategy will get you there much faster. One fast-growing company has grown sales an incredible 6,000% in just 3 years by focusing on expanding their targeted reach over constantly trying to sell products through every posting. They have connected with their best markets through shared interests. This is the human element that often times missing in advertising. This company also goes the second mile through their incredible commitment to after-sale customer service and satisfaction. That’s how loyalty is created!

Think Omni-Channel by developing engagement strategies with the participation of other business units.

Marketing can acquire a customer – but the other business units are more responsible for customer profitability and loyalty. These units include customer service, product, manufacturing, and even the finance department.

The opportunity to drive targeted-traffic also offers exponential growth when all the marketing channels integrate to pique interest and drive traffic. All marketing channels need to align with the same message that also targets the customer’s specific interests, needs, and timing.

The fact is, growing companies need more from their digital partners and agencies.

They need an integrated infrastructure that not only attracts customers but serves their ever changing requests and needs.  That is why Sales Overlays offers an integrated solution that not only attracts the right audience, but can service the customer’s request through our product and service fulfillment division.  We have developed a system that handles highly personalized requests and complete customer care.

Improve the customer experience before and after purchasing.

As I shared, the company with the 6,000% growth has a focus on delivering a superior customer-experience. This is why information postings, current news, testimonials, star-ratings, and video marketing, and others, collectively create this experience. I cannot emphasis enough that the after-purchase experience is even more critical to generating repeat business and expanding reach.

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