Brad Farris

Marketing Departments: You Finally Got Some Swagga’!

By: Brad Farris | August 1, 2013 | 

Marketing Departments: You Finally Got Some Swagga’!

By Brad Farris

Ok, you got some swagga’ – now what are you going to do with it?

Twenty years ago marketing departments didn’t have the cachet, or status that it has today.

Remember the famous Dilbert “Marketing: Two Drink Minimum” cartoon?

At that time marketing mostly reported to the vice president of sales.

Sales was the king-of-the-hill – marketing’s job was to support the sales team.

Sales had the big bonuses, the corner offices, the nice cars. The marketers sat in a cube and drove a mid-sized compact.

Things are Different for Marketing Departments

The Internet has turned the tables on sales people. Before they were the gateway prospects had to go through to obtain information about a company’s products or services.

Now the marketing departments give all that information (and more) out for free on the company’s website. Sales people used to be responsible for “hunting” down leads, and dragging sales in the door; but today, marketers are planting bait for prospects who then self-identify as leads.

Instead of hunting, the sales team is growing more dependent on the leads the marketing departments are giving them. Where before the marketing team reported to sales, now each of them have a direct line to the CEO. The marketers are getting to sit at the big table! Heck we’re calling them chief marketing officers, and they’re seeing the bonuses and perks too.

Be Careful What You Wish For

But all this clout doesn’t come for free. Now, when the revenue goals are missed, who does the CEO yell at? Okay, she yells at everyone; but who gets fired? That’s when the finger pointing gets intense!

The sales person wants to blame marketing, “Marketing didn’t give us enough good leads!”

The marketing people want to blame sales, “We gave them good leads, sales wasted them.”

Once the dust settles we know who’s responsible for sales, right? It’s the sales team. The marketers market, the sales people sell.

Here’s the other side of the coin, marketers. You want the swagger and clout that comes with a seat at the big table? Then you have to accept responsibility for revenue goals. You have to be willing to stand in that circle of fire and say, “If we execute on these strategies we will see our sales grow by X percent”.

To do that the sales and marketing departments have to work together. They have to have very tight alignment and coordination, which means they have to respect what each side brings to the table.

Taking responsibility for revenue goals means marketers need to up their game, making sure they are giving sales people the best leads possible. It also means understanding the role of sales, and how to give them the space to play their part. Lastly, it means blurring the lines dividing the two camps!

Build on Your Strengths

Marketers, you can analyze data like nobody’s business. You can find the unique selling proposition, develop the call-to-action, capture leads, and send them to sales. But you need to accept there’s more to a lead than contact information.

The sales person needs to know what the lead is interested in, and why, in order to be able to reel in the sale. Content marketing can generate a lot of leads, but they aren’t all good leads. How can we make them more strategic and more targeted?

Respect What the Sales Team is Good at Doing

Once we’ve done that, we need to make sure the sales people get to do their job. The sales person plays an important role in customizing the solution to meet the needs. They may not actually change the solution, but they at least focus the prospect on the sub-set of features and benefits that suit their needs. Sales people also overcome objections in a way that feels much more personalized than even the best marketing-automation enabled web experience can do.

Lastly, your sales team is talking to clients all day long. They are your eyes and ears to the marketplace. Yes, they are down in the weeds all day, so they have a hard time always knowing what the information means – but they get feedback everyday that you will never get through other channels.

Apply Your Skills More Broadly

Lastly, marketing departments recognize the business development process is just that – a process. Traditionally, sales people were wired and trained to think of themselves as heroes, the gladiator in the arena doing battle to bring in the business. Each encounter was a unique, one-off battle of wits and guile.

But you know winning new business is really more like a production line, with each person doing their part. The sales person’s part is important, but that part can be analyzed and optimized – each encounter is not a one off activity. Your sales team needs that perspective to up their game.

These changes in roles and status of sales and marketing are confusing to business owners and/or CEOs caught in the middle.

And they beg the questions: What should you expect from each role now? How can you get the most from both? And has there been a shift in who’s responsible for revenue in your company?

About Brad Farris

Brad is the founder of EnMast, a community of business owners committed to being better leaders, and growing better businesses. He is also principal advisor of Anchor Advisors. Through his work with over 100 Chicago area small businesses he has experience guiding business owners through the pitfalls and joys of growing their business. When not working Brad enjoys cycling, cooking and the NFL. Connect with him on Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.

  • Hi Brad,
    Yes, and look at a typical small business and see how many plates this person (The Marketing Director or Manager) has to juggle. With the relationship-building exercises needed in the online world – for lead generation, qualifying and hand-holding, and all the platforms now required to manage content marketing and social. Yikes!
    As a small business owner who works with other small business owners the word is: Overwhelmed. Winning new business IS like a production line, but I’m often working directly with a production line of one 😉 Luckily I read Spin Sucks so I can often lead them out of the weeds 🙂

    • Craig McBreen So right on Craig. It is a plate-spinning, knife-juggling, high-wire act. I think we’re starting to see some tools that can help us — but as the online world has fragmented it’s harder and harder to be “good” at any platform, and the automation tools are just one more thing to learn.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • I have a client that’s in the insurance business. They’ve been dragging their sales reps kicking and screaming into the online/social media/content marketing era. It’s been very, very tough. These are conservative people in a conservative company in a conservative industry.
    The sales people naturally feel very threatened, very worried about no longer being the sole or first point of contact with the customer. So the marketing people have worked very hard to assure them that sales still has an important role, and giving them tools so they themselves can make better use of social media and mobile. 
    It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out, and whether the marketing people might earn more respect over time from sales.

    • RobBiesenbach If the marketers are bringing in leads that are closing they will earn some respect! But it is a tough road — especially in a conservative industry that has been RULED by sales for decades.

  • I loved this post blfarris – the time is definitely NOW for teams to intermix and intermingle and start working TOGETHER for the greater good of the company. I’ve worked in government – sweet lord what a mess that was! People really need to listen to what you’re saying here. 🙂

  • Loved this post. Even though I’m a principal in the company, and have been primarily responsible for business in the Rocky Mountain Region, it’s been my goal to look at our marketing – with a specific focus on lead-generating content marketing (as well as becoming more findable via search engines).
    The kicker – it takes time to create those opportunities and that trust from complete strangers. A lot of our sales comes through recurring clients, referrals, and partnerships. That trust has already been established. Now, we have to build a “body of work” for strangers to assess “hey, you guys might know what they are talking about…tell me more”.
    Right now, I’m fanning the flames to generate quality content…then, I have to step back and look at the analytics to determine what best resonates with the broader market place. Gotta do all of that before we can truly tie any impacts to the bottom line to our marketing efforts.