Four Examples Of Successful Cross-Functional Alignment That Fueled Growth

Achieving sustained growth in today’s market requires two inextricably linked elements: customer obsession and steadfast alignment. It’s not enough to just capture customer insights and cater to customers’ whims. Your organization must align around a shared vision of what it means to be customer obsessed. Strategy, goals, and operations must align across functions so that teams are empowered to innovate, prepared to adapt, and able to deliver customer value.

How can better cross-functional alignment drive growth? These four companies serve as powerful examples.

Siemens Energy

Siemens Energy came into being with a lofty mission: to help its power generation customers transition to a more sustainable world. In 2020, the company emerged as a spin-off of its parent, Siemens, to have greater independence in pursuing this mission. But to capitalize on opportunity — both now and in the future — the 91,000-person company needed a clear marketing strategy that delivered on the overall business strategy.

With the help of Forrester’s Marketing Strategy Compass, Siemens brought CMOs, CSOs, product leaders, and other business leaders together to determine where to generate long-term growth and how to reach growth goals. They planned workshops with global and cross-functional participation to work through the model and to capture a broad swath of employee perspectives, including stakeholders from business strategy, product, sales, and marketing.

Achieving an aligned marketing strategy brought clarity at a critical time and accelerated Siemens Energy’s time to market. It also gave those who took part a great sense of pride. Rather than having a marketing strategy dictated from corporate, the participants thought, “’I can influence this; I can shape the future,’” said Jens Klingemann, head of marketing strategy. “People felt proud of what they did. Now it’s becoming part of their DNA to move the strategy forward.”



People felt proud of what they did.

Jens Klingemann
Head of marketing strategy

CME Group

When CME’s flagship product, launched in 1997, tripled in contract size and became impractical for some buyers, the product team was tasked with creating a product one-tenth the size.

“Solving this problem involved our most successful and iconic product, so there was a very low tolerance for error,” said Tim McCourt, head of equity and crypto products. “It was a meticulous process.”

The product team worked together with the sales and marketing teams to focus on three sizable tasks as the product was developed: drive demand and awareness; grow trading volume in the first year of launch; and don’t inadvertently creep into the territory of existing products, potentially interfering with CME Group’s market position in the equity index futures market.

On launch day, the company rang the opening bell at NASDAQ as animated billboards flashed in Times Square and press coverage rolled in. “The outcome was outstanding,” said Kevin Comer, head of marketing. “We traded over 300,000 contracts on that first day.” With the high level of activity, the sales, marketing, and product teams remained carefully aligned to monitor performance and continue to optimize the offering strategy.

In its first year, the product drew 75,000 new traders, far exceeding expectations, and soon earned the distinction of becoming CME Group’s most successful product launch ever. Leadership credited the success to the organization’s unified go-to-market strategy and bold approach to acknowledging and then managing risks.



The outcome was outstanding.

Kevin Comer
Head of marketing


ArcBest is a multibillion-dollar integrated logistics company that leverages technology and a full suite of shipping and logistics solutions to meet its customers’ supply chain needs. From 2018 to 2020, ArcBest revenue declined by over $150 million.

To address the challenges brought on by the decline in revenue, in April 2020, ArcBest refocused marketing and sales efforts to better align resources and then began implementing a buyer-aligned sales methodology, introducing new workflows, processes, and technology, with a focus on meeting its customers’ constantly changing needs and making it easier for them to do business.

ArcBest knew it couldn’t successfully execute necessary changes without unified support, so the company took painstaking steps to ensure that everyone in the organization was engaged in implementing this transformation. The leadership team talked through the challenges and validated a plan for turning things around. Given the size of the change, ArcBest adopted a long-term approach with a slow and steady stream of improvements.

The impact of this initiative was significant. ArcBest had record growth in revenue, growing by 36% to $4 billion in a capacity-constrained environment. The company did this by driving a 52% year-over-year increase in the strategic growth products outside of the constrained core product.



Ford Motor Company

It’s long been known that a new car depreciates the moment it’s driven off the lot. Ford Motor Company endeavors to change that — believing that an unrivaled customer experience (CX) can ultimately create value for both the customer and the company.

It’s a lofty goal, and one that has required some fundamental changes to the way Ford does business. Like most car companies, in the past, Ford has focused primarily on vehicle acquisition — the phase called “shop and buy.” But today, the company focuses on creating a consistent end-to-end experience from before purchase to beyond purchase. Executive director of customer experience, Jim Azzouz, says the company had to ask, “How might we restructure the business to add value across all the interactions in our customers experience? How do we put rigor around how we show up, from shop to buy all the way through ownership?”

The answer? Be hyperfocused on your priorities and keep customer value at the center.

The effort has not come without challenges as Ford navigates uncharted territory. But the team recognizes that “sometimes when we are the most uncomfortable, that’s the area where we have the confidence that we’re on to something special,” said Azzouz.

Ford’s approach to alignment has included four critical steps:

  1. Breaking down silos.
    Knowing its strengths were in vehicle and design manufacturing, Ford decided to apply those strengths to CX — treating new customer experiences much the same way that it treats a vehicle launch. This means breaking down silos and naming one champion who acts as the directly responsible individual for the success of the program.
  2. Establishing a great agency partnership.
    Ford has built trust and communication with its agency partner. The company has a long history of mutually designed infrastructure and processes — but it also recognizes that sometimes process gets in the way of people. So, Ford makes sure not to stifle voices along the way.
  3. Building a foundation.
    Ford recognizes that to scale experiences, it needs to align the right mix of talent. When designing CX, the company involves product management, designers, and engineers from the outset. Each has a distinct role, and each is ultimately responsible for outcomes.
  4. Branding the experience.
    The CX team recognizes that a new experience initiative will not be successful unless the customer knows about it and understands its value. That’s why it aligns closely with the marketing team to ensure effective and impactful customer communications.



Take the next step in your alignment journey.

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