My colleagues, Hank Barnes and Todd Berkowitz , and I came up with an idea for an interesting (we hope!) collection of blog posts to kick off 2015. The three of us are independently writing a post about where we would allocate an additional 1 million dollars if we ran marketing for a technology company. Check out their ideas at the links above.
So before I start down the path of this blog – full disclosure – I am a ‘recovering sales rep’ – and while I have managed both sales and marketing for small startups to Fortune 500 companies – my loyalty and passion lies with the voice of the sales rep. Please keep my sarcastic bias as a point of view built on years of carrying a quota and sometimes battling with marketing to get what I needed to do my job. (sorry Hank & Todd)
The sales department traditionally has been the face that drives the business forward – especially in the eyes of the customer. However, one big misperception is while sales people may act like it is a ‘solo sport’ (“I closed the deal”) – in reality, there is nothing solo about it (yes I really said that). Every part of an organization support sales efforts in some way to deliver the necessary solutions to prospects and customers alike. Therefore, as the pace of business increases so will the need for greater interaction and collaboration especially between sales and marketing. This is why when Hank asked me to participate in this group blog to answer the question of what would I do with a million dollars to spend on marketing it was too tempting to pass up.
So now that I have set up the challenge at hand – I will take off my sales hat – and dust off my marketing hat to share, influence and suggest what I would do if I had the chance to spend an additional million dollars to help grow the business. But before I just propose a long list of ways to burn…I mean spend the million – some of which may be what we have done in the past – I want to use this opportunity to change the way we determine how/where/when we spend all our marketing dollars, today and in the future.
First thing I would do is get internal agreement on this statement: The goal of any sales or marketing leader should be to grow the business, whether that means closing new business or selling more to existing clients. It shouldn’t be about the internal politics of how that happens but rather how both organizations can work together to help accelerate growth. After I had agreement there – I would get the entire marketing team together and pull in a sampling of sales reps (high performers, middle performers and new hires) to each answer a series of questions which the marketing team could hear and get feedback from the field (Rule of thumb – marketing doesn’t get to debate or defend, just ask questions). Here would be some suggested questions to get the conversation going:
- What are customers telling you during the buying process that you may not think marketing knows or understands?
- Do current enablement tools (ppt, white papers, case studies etc) resonate with prospects? If not, what is missing?
- What are our prospects saying about what our competition is doing better than us?
- What do you consider a qualified lead? Are you getting the right leads?
- Are we targeting the right buyers?
- Is our messaging differentiated?
- What could marketing do to help accelerate the buying process?
- Does our brand story resonate with the market?
- Do customers understand what we stand for and how we are able to solve their business problems?
Armed with an agreement on the shared responsibility of growing the business and a clearer understanding of what is working and not working in the field from sales, I now should have a much better handle on the inside out view of our sales and marketing efforts. For the outside in view I would make it mandatory for each marketing resource to spend time with customers (new, long standing and those we have lost) to hear from them what they think of our marketing efforts and our competitive differentiation. This can’t be a one and done exercise. As I have done in the past, I am a firm believer in making it mandatory for my marketing team to go on field sales calls or listen in on telesales calls to hear firsthand what is really happening during the buying process. This removes any interpretation or color sales would add to the feedback they would give during our Q&A and provide the customer perspective which in many cases is missing in much of what is done today. With any big decision that touches the customer – not having their voice as a data point in the decision making process is a flawed approach.
Now why would I push to make this happen before I spent dollar one? Because in the end, I may find out that I don’t actually need the entire million of additional money – what?? Why would you ever pass up on an additional million dollars to spend? Well, that’s easy…the reality might be that I am able to actually spend the existing marketing budget differently and produce better results than I am today (once I have all this new information) and then reinvest the left over money (including the additional million) to hire more sales reps! You had to know that was coming…..
While you may be disappointed I didn’t lay out where or how I would spend the million – that should be less important than making sure that you are spending the money you have now, or will get in the future, in the most optimal way to have impact the greatest impact on the business.