Sales and Marketing

This article discusses sales and marketing processes in Teal organizations.

A New Perspective

Starting with the Orange paradigm, businesses have become highly sophisticated at segmenting customers based on their conscious and unconscious needs, preferences and buying behaviors. Driven by the objective of outmaneuvering the competition, they carefully position their products and services for each segment. This has contributed importantly to the innovation brought about in Orange and Green, but increasingly, in our mature markets, it seems companies are bent on creating new needs over meeting existing ones. In this process, they often play on our fears and vanities. “Buy this and you will feel good about yourself.” “Buy this and others will like you.” “Buy this and you will be successful.”

In contrast, the Teal approach to marketing is rather simplistic and stems directly from the organization’s sense of purpose. Companies simply ‘listen in’ to what feels like the right offering. There is less emphasis on customer surveys and focus groups. Essentially, marketing boils down to: This is our offer. At this moment, we feel this is the best we can possibly do. We hope you will like it. In a strange paradox, Teal organizations go about filling a need not by tuning in to the noise of the world (the surveys, the focus groups, the customer segmentation), but by listening within. What product would we be really proud of? What product would fill a genuine need in the world? These are the kinds of questions people in Teal organizations ask to define new products. It’s a process guided by beauty and intuition more than analytics.[1]

In Practice

As an organization’s guiding light switches from sales, profits and market share to its purpose, sales and marketing practices change in fundamental ways.

Inside-out offer defined by purpose

Earlier stage organizations will develop marketing strategies based heavily on an analysis of customers (using surveys, focus groups, etc.) with the objective of increasing sales, profit, market share, etc. often by creating artificial needs. This could be characterized as an “outside in” approach. Teal organizations take an “inside out” approach where product development and communication are driven by the desire to fulfill the organization’s purpose. See also Innovation and Product Development.

Marketing driven more by purpose than product

Because purpose takes priority over sales and profits in Teal, these organizations are most interested in promoting the importance of their purpose and how they are working to achieve it than they are on selling their product or service. See the example of Patagonia below.

The message is less directed at the “competition”

Communications about a Teal company’s offering are less frequently designed primarily to claim superiority over the competition. As noted elsewhere in this wiki, Teal organizations often view others that are pursuing a similar purpose as allies rather than competitors. Communication are more often focused on the importance of the organization’s purpose and how the offering fulfills that purpose.

Less investment in sales and marketing departments

In Teal, the massive resources allocated to marketing typical in earlier stage organizations are largely gone. Traditional sales and marketing departments often do not exist. Responsibility is distributed throughout the organisation through self-managing teams who have direct customer contact. Within project teams there is often a role which links directly to the customer and is responsible for communicating with him and feeding back issues or opportunities to the team.

Fewer top-down sales targets

In Teal organizations, self-set targets may exist, but top-down targets usually don't. Targets are problematic for at least three reasons:

  1. They rest on the assumption that we can predict the future.
  2. They may skew our focus away from purpose.
  3. They may narrow our ability to sense possibilities.

Concrete cases for inspiration

Related Topics

    Notes and references


    1. Laloux, Frederic (2014-02-09). Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness (Kindle Locations 4511-4521). Nelson Parker. Kindle Edition. ↩︎