Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Sales And Marketing Line, Blurred Again... Part 1

In the book Tipping Point Malcolm Gladwell details how great successes are driven by little things. One of those things is people. And one type of person that helps products/ideas succeed is the Salemen (and women) (or charismatic people with powerful negotiating skills). Their passion is to evangelize the solution, service or the wisdom derived from an idea. They can't help it, and the best make ideas contagious. However, as great as the gift of gab is, I've realized one very important trait that the great Salesmen have - building networks of people that believe in what you say so much, they'll sell it for you. This is the true power of sales... And this is what I'd like to explore in a series of  posts... Let me start with a rant...

Now, let's look at marketing strategy, and think about the above paragraph. Do we see a conflict...? Isn't it marketing's job to build the network? My quick answer... No, read on...

When you really dig in to CRM (customer relationship management) you realize one important thing... It is all sales, marketing is just supporting the objective...

There is this tendency to capture process in such a way as to lose the creative instincts of your sales reps. Marketing is, at times, largely to blame for this. As marketers, we can't help ourselves in trying to implement CRM systems to capture data for use later in campaigns. However, by complicating the sales process to such a degree, you restrict the customer buying experience into systematic and boring processes. Innovation dies here... What is more effective, I'd argue, is a more fluid approach to the sales process where, for example, sales has the flexibility to co-create marketing materials (using marketing as a source, not a command and control branding center). A truly effective sales rep is hunting/gathering/building on his own, and developing a network that will want to buy from him. If you rely on too much marketing automation to do all this, you're going to lose the juicy nuggets from the sales team (and we get enough spam already). My prior post on culture touched on (getting ideas from the team) leveraging internal knowledge and acting on it. But do most organizations do this?

I've implemented Salesforce.com in several organizations now, and although I'm a raving fanboy of Salesforce.com, I've realized there isn't something right here. Why is the campaign functionality so weak. Why are CRM systems built with sales "outreach" as the last step and not the first. In other words, so much attention is paid to data entry and reporting that we miss the fundamental of sales - communicating! The lines of marketing and sales should be blurred as sales reps gain more insight into web analytics and branding - seems like we need less marketers and more Smarketers (oh boy made up words). Now empower your sales team with the ability to run micro campaigns, and you have a CRM system that truly nets you more deals, not more process! In the future, I see sales reps as truly mini-marketing engines with more power at their disposal.

So, do you agree? Could it be that we start to see a blend of sales/marketing personnel? Are we fundamentally looking for a more engaged sales rep with marketing, sales, CRM, content and web analytics skills? Should we be developing this in our teams?

In my next post, I'm going to explore the idea of Social Selling - where the idea of network building came about anyway...

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