Evolving a Sales & Marketing Function

6 Group was selected to facilitate an evolutionary change for a global Oil & Renewables organisation. Our client wanted to bring two disparate groups together, oil and renewable products, to leverage a truly integrated business which could sell more, service its clients better, and capture a significant portion of the market.

The client had previously conducted an extensive strategic analysis of where they felt the business should go and required a partner to investigate all possible options of change, outline the end-to-end methodology, and attentively guide them throughout the process. It was for these reasons why 6 Group was chosen to be the partner, particularly as we emphasised the need to accompany them through the transformation, as opposed to merely advising them how the change should be conducted.

Making Clear the Drivers for Change

The first step in this significant transformation was to hold a workshop with our client to identify the reasons why they wanted to make the change and what benefits they felt it would bring to the business.

Combining the oil and renewables offering was part of a wider organisational change as the client wanted to attain a larger portion of the market and to effectively sell its products globally, an ambition which required a complete realignment of the sales & marketing function.

Whilst there were sales teams for both oil and renewables, albeit with limited cohesion, there was minimal presence of a dedicated marketing function to support the sales process e.g. to gather market intelligence, develop product innovation, and explore new solutions. Therefore, it was quickly identified that the inception of a product marketing team to effectively support the sales team, meaning the client could effectively promote and sell any oil and renewable product across the globe, would be one of the possible outcomes.

With the drivers for change established, it was time to explore the respective operating models of our client’s competitors.

Defining the Competitive Landscape

Gaining an extensive perspective on industry best practice is critical to understanding what success looks like and we aimed to achieve this for our client through a substantial benchmarking exercise of their top three competitors.

Moreover, we carried out a full analysis of the following:

  • Culture, Values & Behaviours
  • Sales & Marketing Strategy
  • Interaction Between Sales & Marketing
  • Performance Management
  • Organisational Structures

Armed with a world-class Research & Intelligence function and over 12 years’ market insight across the Energy sector, all of the competitor information would be attained exclusively by 6 Group and be used to shape the subsequent organisational design stage of this transformational project.

This stage was key in the gauging whether the drivers of change which had been identified through the previous stage aligned with the operations of industry leaders and, if not, how could we encompass the best features of all three and create something truly effective for the client.

Competitor One | Chemicals, Plastics & Refining

The first organisation benchmarked previously had a similar issue of segregation between their global sales & marketing teams, however, they had undergone a significant restructure and decided to split sales and marketing from each other but maintain a very close, interdependent relationship and work under the principle of ‘one team, one result’ and a culture to ‘be the best’.

One of the key discoveries of Competitor One was that, despite their strong linkage, the sales and marketing functions held very separate responsibilities. For example, the sales team was accountable for clients, forecasting, budgeting etc. whereas marketing was exclusively responsible for optimisation, pricing, profitability of products etc.

Competitor Two | Petrochemicals, Speciality Chemicals & Oil Products

A highly customer-focused company, Competitor Two lives by the philosophy ‘to be the supplier of choice to its customers’ and operates with a combined sales & marketing function, as opposed to standalone teams.

It was found that the company had previously transformed its sales approach which resulted in shifting from a product-driven sales team which sold across multiple, global locations to one that was based on geography and moved the sales closer to the customers, strengthened links with the supply chain, and brought them out of the ‘wilderness’.

Competitor Three | Chemicals & Plastics

Similar to Competitor Two, the sales team of Competitor Three was coordinated by geography and not product types, however, the company does have a dedicated and extensive marketing function which develops annual sales quotas for the regions; projecting the expected sales volumes and profit of existing projects.

The marketing team also compile regular competitor intelligence around marketing information and pricing of other rival products, which they use as a reference to price their own offering. Despite the distinct differences between the two teams, they regularly share intelligence when formulating plans and contribute to the overarching business strategy.

Illustrating the New Organisational Design

The extensive industry benchmarking process providing 6 Group with a substantial level of insight into best practice in the sector and was invaluable to inform the organisational design stage of this project.

Some of the key findings from our client’s top three competitors were;

Sales should be centred on geography, not products

The competitor research revealed that a geographical sales model would provide significantly more opportunities for the client as they would be closer to their customers than ever before. This means sales employees would need to expand their knowledge of the full product range, across both oil & renewables, for a location-based approach to be successful, but would also allow them to cross-sell and provide an enhanced service to their customers.

A dedicated product marketing function is essential

The client didn’t have a dedicated marketing team – other than the centralised, corporate marketing function which was focussed on matters such as branding and PR, but nothing dedicated to business development. From our research, it was clear that sales supported by product marketing who could provide continual market and competitor intelligence, define a highly informed pricing structure, give the sales team strong marketing collateral etc. would offer our client a huge advantage in the market.

With the industry benchmarking complete and the report in the hands of our client, it was time to illustrate three prospective organisational design options to challenge and test their suitability against the client’s existing company structure. This came in the form of an exploratory workshop between 6 Group and the client’s key stakeholders to investigate all possibilities and decide on the definitive approach. Some of the final proposed changes to the organisation’s structure were:

  • Build a dedicated strategic marketing function to support the sales team
  • Shape the roles of sales professionals to fit with a geographical sales model
  • Utilise internal training to grow the product knowledge of the sales team

Whilst the change would directly impact on all of the roles within the sales team, it would also provide each and every one of them with new benefits, and it was key that this would be communicated effectively. These included an opportunity to earn more commission through selling products across oil and renewables and having more freedom in crafting solutions for customers.

It was equally important to communicate the reasons behind the transformation and make clear the organisation’s vision to attain complete buy-in from the sales team. Together, 6 Group and the client organisation developed an overarching core message for this change;

‘To leverage a truly integrated business which can sell more, service its clients better, and capture a significant portion of the market.’

Building a Competency Framework Assessment

In addition to helping the client define the new marketing function and additional sales roles to support this new vision, we built a bespoke competency framework assessment for the client to determine behavioural and functional competencies, and which strictly adhered to the client’s new organisational structure thereby maximising the success of the change.

This framework could be used by the client to evaluate members of the existing sales team to gauge whether they have the required skillsets, willingness and capacity to adapt to the transformed operating model and also for the assessment of any new hires (i.e. the strategic marketing function) across the newly combined oil & renewables business.

What Happened Next?

With our continual support, the client rolled out the change internally and built a marketing team. We received excellent feedback from the project and were consequently invited to conduct a second change for the client organisation to transform the production side of the business. This change programme was also a success with the outcome leading to cohesion between two production facilities, separated by a considerable distance, to one centralised point thereby enhancing efficiency and engagement between the two sites.


6 Group has conducted a host of transformational change programmes around the world and across our seven sectors of expertise. We pride ourselves on partnering with clients from the inception of their transformation through to achieving their desired outcomes.

If you’d like to find out how we can support your transformational change, get in touch using the contact form below.

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