5 Reasons for “The Gap”
- Salespeople guard information about their region and accounts in order to protect their jobs.
- Who’s in charge? Academically sales is a subset of marketing. Realistically marketing staff are often hired by sales to support the sales effort.
- Salespeople make a lot more money.
- Marketing people view themselves as more sophisticated and professional than a lot of salespeople. Most salespeople find themselves in their roles as opposed to pursuing it as a profession.
- Salespeople get paid when they close business. Marketers are paid to open business. The hand off of leads to sales is always a point of contention.
A Customer’s Point of View
The internet, customer relationship management (CRM) tools and automation of office functions have made it much easier for buyers to collect information about companies and products. If you’re a sales person handing out brochures, your days are numbered. The harsh truth is that adequate marketing is required to support the new channel of information exchange, not salespeople.
Lean and Six-Sigma have significantly reduced the amount of play-by-play project updates, problem resolution and hand-holding that buyers used to require. Salespeople who think they are adding value by “servicing” accounts are finding it much more difficult to justify their positions. The service that buyers require is much better provided by customer service staff who can impact the operations side of the business. Keeping internal staff laser focused on the brand’s objectives, the intended customer experience and aware of market intelligence requirements is much better served by marketing than sales.
So what is the role of sales? High performing salespeople must provide value whether they are developing existing accounts or opening up new accounts. The magic word is value. Simply put, salespeople need to solve messy problems that are not yet clear enough for a client to “place an order” and fill their need. Better yet, salespeople should make buyers aware of opportunities and threats that they haven’t considered and offer ways for them to take appropriate action. Tom Snyder and Kevin Kearns have this to say in their book Escaping the Price Driven Sale, “Customers are now more sophisticated and will pay a premium for insight, analysis, and expertise they cannot get anywhere else but from the sales experience.” Honestly, are your salespeople wowing customers with insight, analysis and expertise?
Here’s the rub: the people who are qualified to provide this high level of value are not going to “prospect” the old fashioned way. They’re simply not wired to do it, nor should their time be chewed up doing something that marketing can do better, faster, cheaper. Therefore marketing needs to pick up the slack when it comes to creating awareness, establishing credibility, building confidence and engaging buyers on their terms. Sales professionals should be positioned by marketing as high-level consultants with whom a buyer should lean on for expertise. It’s really no different than promoting a sought after speaker. If your sales people can’t honestly wear the badge of “I’m an expert in my field”, it’s time to develop your team.
For more on the relationship between sales and marketing and why they need each other, read Made For Each Other by Elisabeth A. Sullivan, Marketing News 07.30.09
Another, more recent article is Sales Support by Piet Levy/Staff Writer, Marketing News 03.30.11;
excerpt: “Marketing is valuable to any organization, but ultimately, we are all in sales. Nothing happens unless and until we sell something,” says Daniel Joyce, global director of sales and marketing effectiveness, automation and control solutions at manufacturing powerhouse Honeywell International Inc.