Interview with Barbara Vlacich, vice president of presales operations and sales effectiveness, Kronos: Part #1


We had a chance to speak with Barbara Vlacich, vice president of presales operations and sales effectiveness at Kronos, about how Kronos tackles marketing and sales alignment, their business opportunities and challenges, and what to expect from her presentation at our upcoming Marketing & Sales Alignment Conference.

Here is Part #1 of our two-part interview.

Q: How is the sales and marketing organization structured at Kronos?

The entire sales organization – from the sales reps, to presales, field ops, and training are all aligned to specific industries/verticals (healthcare, retail, services & distribution, public sector and manufacturing).  I lead the presales and sales effectiveness operations which includes presales, territory management, and sales development training. All my teams are aligned to the sales leaders of each vertical.

The industry marketing team is aligned with our sales leaders as well. Though the rest of marketing is aligned by function, there is teaming with the verticals through the industry marketing team.  The marketing team at Kronos includes product marketing, industry marketing, marketing program management, and corporate communications. All of these teams report to our chief marketing officer.  Each function throughout sales and marketing understands that we serve our customers by their industry.

Q: Are there any processes or programs that you and your team have worked on to help employees “Live the Story”?

The Kronos story centers on our customers’ success and our employees’ level of excellence.  You only have to listen to our CEO, Aron Ain, for a few minutes to understand how deeply we feel about our commitment to customers and each other.  It has allowed us to take on change when it might have seemed “safer” to keep with the status quo.  I can point to our organizational shift to verticals that started a few years ago.  It was an enormous amount of change in the beginning, but we saw the benefits to our customers almost immediately.  Several years into this shift, many more areas of Kronos are aligned this way including services and product management (and marketing as previously stated).  Some might say, “That was a few years ago – why is this still a focus? ”  The more mature our verticals have become, the stronger our customer relationships and solutions have become.  It has allowed us to broaden our beliefs as to what is possible whether it be a new product to serve a specific industry, or the way our message reaches our customers.

Early on in this alignment we worked with Corporate Visions to develop our industry-focused messaging.  At that point “alignment” meant that everyone was in the room together. Those sessions with Corporate Visions helped us create our messaging and laid the foundation for what is now a very strong relationship between sales and industry marketing.

The alignment between sales and marketing has been a major win for our vertical focus.  And the synergy doesn’t stop there for us. Our alignment even extends to the product management teams and has really enhanced the way we prioritize features and functionality in our products.

Like many companies, before we had this great partnership, we planned very differently. Each group would have its own priorities and we would come together and hope that they aligned. Now, as a leader of the presales organization, rather than me setting the priorities for the presales team for the next year, I need to first understand what the vertical priorities are.

While we consider the vertical focus a great achievement, we have created strong, aligned leadership teams that constantly ask each other, “What’s next? How do we get to our next level of excellence?”

Tune in for Part II of our interview with Barb, including a preview of her presentation at the Marketing & Sales Alignment Conference.