Location, Location, Location

 In Sales & Marketing Alignment

Does the key to Marketing and Sales Alignment lie in architecture?

Like Demand Spring, there are many organizations that provide advisory services and technology that can help you drive marketing and sales alignment.

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ) is likely not one that readily comes to mind.

Pixar Campus

Yet, it’s the work of this architectural design company, specifically with the work they did at Pixar’s Headquarters (pictured above), which can teach us many lessons about driving alignment and collaboration.

“Encounters and Unplanned Collaborations”

The vision of BCJ, together with Steve Jobs, was clearly ahead of its time back in the 90’s. They designed the campus to enable what Jobs said “promoted encounters and unplanned collaborations.”

The result is an amazing atrium and other common meeting places, including bathrooms that are in one location only.

One of the key design aspects of the Pixar’s headquarters was to break up departmental silos. He didn’t want the engineers, creative types, and executives in separate buildings or floors for fear of losing the “innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity”.

The 50-Meter Rule

Beyond an office re-design, one way for you to consider how you can use your physical space to foster marketing and sales alignment is your seating plan.

How far apart do these teams sit from each other? Are they on the same floor? In the same building? In the same location?

Empirical data shows that Jobs was right to ensure different departments weren’t siloed in their seating location.

MIT Professor Tom Allen discovered in the 1970’s that the closer that people sit to one another the greater the frequency of communication, as illustrated by the Allen curve, which reveals 50 meters to be the critical distance where communication really begins to dip.

A Checklist for Fostering Collaboration

So, beyond implementing CRM and Marketing Automation, aligning on lead taxonomy, and using proven lead management processes, here are some ways you can optimize communication and collaboration between marketing and sales:

  • In each office location, intersperse the seating of your marketing and sales people.
  • Ensure marketing and sales are on the same floor.
  • Enable open spaces that foster casual conversation.
  • Break down walls (literally) – create open office environments with a mix of workspaces that enable communication, collaboration, and areas for concentration.
  • Cluster people together – several researchers have found density to be important to create energy and foster communication.

Short of an office redesign, there are smart things that you as a marketing leader can do to literally and figuratively close the gap that hampers your alignment with your sales peers.

Time for me to go congregate by the water cooler.

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