Saturday, July 14, 2012

Time to Bring the Pride Back into Sales

We have officially crossed over into the second half of our fiscal year. In the B2B world, given the extended sales cycles, the first two quarters are usually spent on market conditioning, launching major campaigns to generate awareness and lots of leads, the second half is all about keeping your eye on the finish line. Which means a strong partnership and alignment with sales to make sure "no lead is left behind". So marketeers need to take on a different avatar, adjust their thinking, language and how they spend their time. Agency pitches are replaced with lead reports. Campaign briefs are replaced with sales enablement materials. All eyes are focused on what it will take to progress and close that lead.
For many marketeers, this is a difficult transition. You have to pull out your operational and sales skills, which isn't always natural. But its more than just skills that come into play here. Its about pride. Pride in sales. Pride in winning. Pride in beating the competition. If marketeers see their role as making a of noise and passing a bunch of leads and moving onto the next big thing because "We are marketing, we aren't operations or sales people" then we are doing a disservice to the brand we love.
This is not just true of marketeers, I see this amongst the agency clan too. Recently I attended a 2 day CMO Summit which was attended by CMOs and senior agency representatives. I noticed that on the first day, during the 1 minute matchup (a brilliant concept where every agency meets every marketeer to deliver an elevator pitch and exchange business cards in 1 minute) several agency heads avoided the activity and sent their junior sales and business development team members.  It was "below" them to move from one seat to the next and deliver the elevator pitch to prospects, they had salespeople to that. Many felt awkward delivering an elevator pitch. There was little interaction between agencies and marketeers for the subsequent 2 days despite ample opportunities because there was a reluctance to "sell". I even had one agency head say, "I gave you my elevator pitch, you said you were intrigued, but you haven't approached me since!" Upon my return, I have been flooded with emails and phone calls by the attendees who took my business card requesting an appointment to bring someone over to see me. Another CMO at the conference half jokingly said, "Iss haftey bahut logon ko chai pilanaa padhey ga!" - CMOs will be hosting a lot of visitors for tea!
The idea of a 2 day offsite is for busy CMOs to get exposed to and interact with several agencies in one go so they can come back to the office with a good understanding of what services are available to them. In short, we were there to be sold. One unfortunate soul caught me in the hallway  on the last day and said "let's talk next week". I responded, "Actually, lets talk now. I'm here and available". He froze in his tracks, fumbled over a few words and finally came up with this: "So how much are you spending on digital?"  And I thought I had heard every lame pickup line in the book.
There needs to be pride in selling at every level in the organization. Selling is not beneath marketeers, its not beneath C level executives, its not someone else's job. I love selling, I sell every day. I love being out talking about my brand, our value to anyone who is willing to listen. I love making things happen for our clients. I love winning. So what do we need to do to bring the pride back in sales?


  1. Good one and very true, sales quality is in everyone. Only thing we need to do is to bring that out.

  2. I wish all MArketeers were aligned with your thinking. Colud you sahere it internally? :)

  3. Excellent thoughts! We have a very poor misconception about sales people who sweat out in the streets and marketers who sit in airconditioned offices and prepare glorified decks and campaigns. In fact marketing and sales should take lessons from football. Brilliant strikers like Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney (sales people) are able to deliver based on the brilliance of moves (marketing campaigns) created by midfielders (marketers) like Philipp Lahm, Andreas Iniesta and Ashley Cole. Both are toothless without each other. Each game presents new ideas on communication , collaboration and innovation.

  4. I love this article, and over the years as we see advertising, sales and marketing getting transformed into being more brand centric i must admit that this article is truly inspiring. We live in a market that is constantly evolving and is becoming more demanding every day and to cater to a market like that is not just exciting but it makes you want to use multiple approaches to connect with the consumer.