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Why Can’t Sales and Marketing Just Get Along?

The sales and marketing disconnect has been going on as long as they both exist – marketing creates targeted campaigns and complains that sales don’t follow up on leads. Sales complain that they aren’t getting “quality” leads (depending on the organization, quality seems to be a moving target). Marketing develops their interpretation of messaging for the collateral (brochures, videos, direct mail etc…) and sales presentations and sales creates their own sales presentations with different messaging. Different branding by the two departments for the same product confuses the customer. The dialog goes back and forth until management sits everyone down at the same table. Sound familiar?

At the end of the day, sales and marketing have to come together to deliver a clear and consistent value proposition that enables prospects to develop a coherent brand image of the company and its products. Forrester Research recently reported similar findings in “B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment Starts with the Customer.” Only six of the sixty-six marketing and sales leaders who responded to Forrester’s survey, reported that the two groups worked closely together. Now those are some alarming statistics. The study confirms that sales and marketing have been working to a great extent in different silos. In larger organizations and the government this might not be detrimental but in small to medium sized businesses this could be fatal.

So how can we get everyone on the same page? It starts with agreeing on the ideal customer profile or the different buying personas. Persona’s are extremely useful in determining the buying behaviour of market segments and help guide product development and branding decisions. Persona’s put a face on who’s buying your products and or services.

Then you have to decide on the best channels to reach your customers. If you were a bottling machinery manufacturer, your marketing resources would be put to better use if you ran a banner ad on Globalspec, an engineering search and industrial catalogs website, than designing a Facebook landing page.

In most cases, the corporate resource with the least amount of contact with the buyer, the CMO or Chief Marketing Officer, usually leads the process. In my opinion a truly representative alignment would include the buyer in some capacity (the personas developed through marketing research & research and development) and the Sales Director. And by this, I mean a stand-in from another department would give his/her opinion. It might take longer to develop consensus, but all parties have a vested interest that this works.

Whichever opinion that you may be of, bridging the divide will mean that sales and marketing will have to spend more time communicating with each other and not talking “at” one another. Who knows, maybe going to lunch with the marketing guy or going fishing with the sales guy isn’t such a bad thing after all.

How To Select A Sales And Marketing Recruiting Firm

There are lots of staffing companies, executive search firms & headhunters in the marketplace. If your company is looking to hire sales or marketing talent, how can you distinguish between these different service providers to determine who will do the best job of finding you the top candidates that you need?

One of the key things to look for…probably the top thing to look for in fact, is a company that specializes only in sales and marketing engagements. Search firms that specialize in sales and marketing are few and far between.

There are a lot of staffing and recruiting firms out there that specialize in finance, accounting, IT, etc, but very few that actually have a focus in the sales and marketing arena. Why is this? Because sales and marketing searches are the most challenging recruiting assignments to do correctly. It’s much more difficult to measure the skills, experience and ability of a salesperson than it is to measure the experience of a programmer or an accounting professional. This is why a lot of companies that are in the staffing business shy away from doing sales & marketing search assignments.

Sales & marketing search specialists are staffed with VP’s of sales, and or sales and marketing executives who have lots of experience in hiring this kind of personnel…so what you’re really doing is hiring their expertise at having done the same thing over and over and over again. They have much more rigorous processes, sales profiling tools and proven techniques to get at the heart of whether or not sales and marketing candidates are really capable of producing the results you need for your company. Likewise they have large databases and pools of talent that they draw from, since they make it their business to track the top candidates and make them available for client searches.

So if you’re considering going outside or outsourcing your sales and marketing recruiting to a search firm, make sure that the one that you select is focused in sales and marketing only. If you do, you have a much better chance of attracting and retaining the kind of top talent that you’ll need in order to accelerate your company’s sales growth.

Do You Suck at Sales and Marketing? Here’s How Not to Get Bitten in the Butt!

“Let’s face it. You’re brilliant at what you do, but you SUCK at marketing,” said my business mentor when we first started working together. “You’re going to need to fall in love with it.”

“And pigs have wings.” I thought, while nodding in pretend agreement. I was paying him so I at least needed to show willing.

Back then, marketing and sales was something I wanted nothing to do with. I wanted to do the fun stuff, the change agent stuff: retreats, workshops, deep transformation stuff.

Sales was for people with toothy smiles, perfect hair and pin stripe suits who said things like; “But wait, there’s more!’ or “So, Mr. Jones, would you like to buy your policy on Tuesday or Thursday?”

Other people were good at it. Not me. Silly, I know. All exaggerated projection. I didn’t want to admit it, but it scared me.

Which is kind of weird given my life up to that point. I’ve travelled to the world alone, lived in all sorts of exotic places, climbed remote Thai mountains with freedom fighters brandishing AK47′s, scuba dived in the dark, jumped out of airplanes, spoken in front of hundreds. And here I am afraid to close a $2000 deal? Really?

I know it sounds silly but the rejection piece was more potent than the physical safety thing. And therein lay a solution. I just needed to translate the skill set.

This is a silly, but potent example. I remember when I first moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand, back in my twenties, I rode a bicycle around the city. On occasion I became a moving target for rabid looking stray dogs. They would chase me, fangs a flaring. I knew not to flee (I tried, unsuccessfully several times) as they could always outpace me.

Very quickly I figured out what to do instead. I would stop in my tracks, get off my bike, stare directly into their eyes and start walking menacingly towards them. It worked like a charm every time. Off they would skulk, tail between their legs. It actually became quite a game.

After a while I found myself actively looking for dogs who had the foolish audacity to come after me.

Lesson: Turn and face what you’re afraid of, look it right in the eyes and start moving towards it. If you run away it will keep chasing you and bite you in the butt.

I simply had forgotten to apply that to sales.

Now, facing a challenging dip in business and no longer having someone else doing the sales bit for me, I had to finally turn and look this snarling beast in the eye.

What I didn’t expect was that it would become so much fun. You see, in reality, marketing and sales is all about psychology. And I’ve always been fascinated by people and what makes us tick. And that’s sales all over – why do people do what they do? What makes them buy? What makes them run away?

In fact, for many years when I lived in Asia, I was a freelance writer, writing feature articles about travel, and people. People who did interesting things. I just hadn’t translated that into the sales arena yet.

Now, necessity was the mother of my reinvention.

I began to have a blast. I started creating videos, writing blogs, doing tele-classes, creating campaigns. All the things I’d been dancing around and never quite doing. And not only was I applying my new-found passion for sales into my own business, but showing others how to do the same too.

I found that my niche is in fact messengers and change agents, entrepreneurs, who are amazing at what they do, but who generally suck at sales and need to get out of their own way. By the end of my courses, they are gutsy, out there and owning it in a powerful way. It’s a pleasure to behold.

Not only that, but we have a LOT of fun.

So, if you’re feeling a little queasy at the thought of sales and marketing here are a couple of things you can explore. Get a notebook and answer the following questions (colored pens will help):

1. What are you really afraid of? Be honest. (Rejection? Looking stupid?)

2. Where in your life are you courageous or audacious? (e.g. Have you bungee jumped? How are your karaoke skills? Are you un-squeamish at the sight of blood? Do you ride a Harley? Is your hair pink?)

Find ways to translate that courage into sales and marketing. Be creative.

And most of all, stop taking yourself so seriously. Sales can actually be fun. And the more fun you’re having, the easier your clients will feel in your presence. Which means, when you get to the conversation about money, they will barely notice the close because they were converted to you a long time ago.

A smart phone with a camera helps too, because videos are among the most powerful tools you can use – if you know how.

That’s for another blog. For now, my parting thought is, if you do suck at sales all you need is a bicycle and an attitude and you’re off to a great start.

And remember, only when you walk towards your fear will you find your greatness.

So tell me, do your pigs have wings too? Chime in below and let me know if you’re about to take flight.