1950’s Housewife Rules for Marketers

Let me ask you something that I ask every company I consider working with:

What role does your marketing department play in your organization?  Are they considered an organization that exists to serve sales? Or do they serve the business as an equal partner, in conjunction with sales and all other business functions?

Put another way:

Who is marketing’s client? Sales? Or the business’ customer?

A lot of companies think of marketing as an organization that exists to serve and enable sales, who ultimately is the bread-winner for the business. This, in my opinion, is a sad, shortsighted, and antiquated view of marketing’s role. I apologize in advance for this very American approach to this topic, but I can think of no better parallel than the quintessential 1950’s American Housewife. If you’re not up on your mid-twentieth century domestic American history, you can brush up here.

In this scenario sales is the husband, marketing is the wife, and the business is their family. Here we go:

1950’s Housewife Rules for Marketers

  1. Have everything ready. Plan ahead. When sales wants leads they should be ready and waiting, warm and ready for conversion. But sales may decide not to work the leads you prepared that day, or he may be dissatisfied with your leads and ignore them. He may even get mad at you for not giving him the leads he wanted that day, but do not talk back or let this upset you. You should always have a backup of other leads ready and waiting.
  2. Prepare yourself. Sales works hard to provide for you and the business, and he doesn’t want to look at ugly marketing materials. Keep your offerings pretty and fresh. Stay up to date with the latest styles and know what he likes and give it to him (even if it’s not what the customer wants), because at the end of the day you exist to serve sales first and the customer second.
  3. Listen to him. You may have done tons of market research and have a lot to say, but always let sales talk first. If you don’t think his ideas will work, try them anyway and be prepared to take the blame. If you have a really good idea, gently work it into conversation and let him think it was his idea. And of course, let sales take the credit. He works hard to provide for you and your family, and has earned it.
  4. Let the day be his. Never complain or be upset if he doesn’t show up to meetings or follow-up on all of your leads. Try to understand that he works hard, and even though you do too, at the end of the day his works contributes directly to revenue and your contributions are one-step removed.
  5. Arrange his lead queue and monitor his opportunities. Speak in low soothing tones and if necessary, administer his CRM for him so he doesn’t get bogged down in silly things like learning how to do his job in the modern world.
  6. Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgement or integrity. So what if he’s ignoring customer requests and spamming the prospects you’ve been so gently nurturing? Remember, he is the master of the house and brings home the bacon so you have no right to question him.
  7. A good marketer always knows her place.

Ok, so this is an over-dramatization of most sales/marketing relationships. But I am personally aware of companies that both consciously and unconsciously operate their businesses with this mentality. Just as the mentality toward marriage has evolved in our society to be one of equality – where husband and wife are equal contributors – so too should the view of the role of marketing and sales evolve. Equal does not mean the same. Marketing and sales are very different, and bring a unique and equally important value to every business.

By the way, this post is not meant to be interpreted as a plug toward social or feminist views on modern domestic issues. If you have a different idea of what modern-day marriage means, and you’re still pro-patriarchal in your beliefs, that’s fine. There are many cultures and many beliefs, which are all perfectly valid as long as that works in your relationship. I will not judge you for the decisions you make in your personal lives.

But if you’re a business, and you still exalt your sales organization as the patriarch and view your marketing department as a subservient entity, which exists to support sales, I do judge you. Because you’re wrong. A well staffed, funded, and run marketing department can be a valuable contributor and equal partner with a lot more to bring to the table than a hot meal.

Semantics: Demand Gen vs. Customer Marketing

Demand Gen vs Customer Marketing

In my last post I talked about the difference between Lead Generation and Demand Generation, and the fact that there is a difference. But what about customer marketing?

If lead gen is the process of generating new leads, and demand gen is the process of getting those leads to demand your products/services and ultimately buy (become a customer), then is customer marketing the third step? I say no…not really.

While it is important that you apply demand generation methodologies to nurture and convert the leads you generate, who says demand generation is exclusively a process for leads? You can (and should) apply demand gen techniques to your customers (we call that ‘cross sell/upsell’). After all, aren’t your customers some of your best potential buyers? You might even consider them low hanging fruit…yet somehow so many marketers wait for the fruit to fall off the tree instead of grabbing it when it’s ripe or, ever worse, they pick it too early. *sigh*

Now, I am not suggesting that you just swoop up your customer list and plop it into your latest and greatest demand gen campaign and call it a day. That would be easy, I’ll admit, but it won’t be nearly as effective (resist the urge….seriously). Think quality over quantity. You need to speak to your customers differently. Acknowledge them as the fantastic customers that they are and leverage your existing relationship to show how you can continue to help them.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, there’s another layer to customer marketing that goes above and beyond good demand gen, and that is good customer satisfaction. I can tell you as a customer myself that when I get marketing messages from a company I’m not feeling the love for, I get cranky. I expect you to know that I’m not happy with you right now and that trying to sell me your newest widget is just going to piss me off more. As a marketer you might say ‘that’s not fair, I can’t control whether the customer is happy or not,” and to that I say two things:

  1. Stop making excuses. True, many elements of the customer experience are out of your hands, but some things are within your grasp of control and so you should be doing everything in your power to improve that experience. Don’t just chalk it up for what it is and add to the bad experience by doing your own thing in a vacuum.
  2. If you can’t change/influence reality, then you need to at least be aware of it. With all the technology out there today, you should be able to find a way to identify the happy customers from the not happy ones. Someone at your company knows who is happy and who isn’t – find out who those people are and find a systematic way to harness that information to inform on your marketing activities. It can be as simple as a field in your CRM that captures the NPS, or other satisfaction score, and passes that data to your marketing automation system.

I’m not under any delusion that tracking customer satisfaction is easy…it’s not. But it is important, and if you’re going to be marketing to your customers, you HAVE to figure it out. OncNutshelle you do, you will open yourself up to a rich pool of opportunities.

In a nutshell:

  • Demand gen applies to both leads and customers
  • Don’t market to your customers in the same way you market to leads
  • Only satisfied customers will accept being marketed to (and by the way make great advocates, which SiriusDecisions says will drive demand gen)
  • Satisfied customers can be your best ‘leads’ for new sales opportunities
  • There’s no excuse for bad customer marketing
  • There should be technology & processes in place to keep customer-touching groups in sync and customer data accessible so it can be leveraged appropriately

Why sales should give a crap about what marketing is doing

Let’s keep going on the theme of marketing and sales alignment. Last week someone told me that sales doesn’t care what marketing is doing, and expecting them to take time to look at marketing activities on a lead record is ridiculous, because they won’t do it. I call B.S. on that, and refuse to accept it. While that may be true in some sales organizations, it’s not right. In fact, it’s madness. Utter madness!

First, I want to establish 2 baseline assumptions. For the sake of the following post assume that:

  1. Marketing has done its job and has implemented a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) that thoroughly integrates with you CRM and is publishing marketing interaction information to the lead records in the CRM
  2. Sales people are sane, rational and logical

Now, I’d like to set the stage with some interesting numbers:

~ 4 ~

The average number of marketing campaigns B2B companies report a lead responds to before a deal closes (Insight Squared)

~ 7 ~

The minimum number of interactions the average B2B lead has with a brand before they are ready to talk to a sales person (Online Marketing Institute)

~ 38 ~

The win rate increase reported by organizations that have focused on tightly aligning their sales and marketing teams (SAP)

~ 50 ~

The percent of time B2B sales people waste on unproductive prospecting (SAP) AND the percent of B2B sales people that miss their quota (Marketo)

~ 70 ~

The percent of the purchase cycle that’s complete before a lead is ready to talk to sales (Forbes)

~ 95 ~

The percent of B2B buyers that downloaded a piece of thought-leadership content from the vendor they ultimately chose (SAP)

Because you’re a smart, well-read person of business, most of these insights should be familiar to you. After all, I haven’t exactly chosen an original topic. But I’m going to belabor the point because it’s an important one. Armed with all of this info, I hope it is clear to you that for sales to ignore the insights into what leads are doing before they get them on the phone would be utter insanity.

Did you not immediately jump to that obvious and rational conclusion? If not <<face palm>> read on…

You’re welcome.

Once upon a time there were 2 (beautiful) leads: Joe Blow and Jon Doe

Joe Blow is the kind of lead we dream of. He heard great things about your business from a friend and it just so happened he was in the market for exactly your solution and he needed it fast.  So Joe went to your website and submitted a ‘contact sales’ form. In that form, he submitted comments that outlined who referred him, what he wanted, and his timeline to buy.

Awesome, right? Totally! When sales calls Joe, would they want to say “Hi Joe, I understand you wanted to talk to a sales person, how can I help?” or would they want to be ready with a quote and proposal for how they can help address his specific need immediately? The latter, I would hope. Arming sales with even that small nugget of info can help them have an informed conversation that will get them off on the right foot and both Joe and sales would live happily ever after.

Jon Doe, on the other hand, is not so sure what he wants. He finds your company as he’s doing some research on possible solutions to his widget challenge. He has 7 magical interactions with your company: 1) Visits your website; 2) Downloads a white paper; 3) Receives an email; 4) Opens an email; 5) Clicks through the email; 6) Visits your website again; 7) Downloads an infographic.

Jon is an attractive lead, too but he’s harder to get. He looks exactly like the kind of guy you want to sell to (and by that I mean he meets the profile of your company’s standard buyer), and based on everything he’s doing, marketing thinks he’s qualified enough for sales to have a go at him (lucky ducks!) But Jon didn’t actually ask to speak to sales, so when sales calls him, what do they say?

Hi – my marketing team says you have a high lead score so I’m calling you – what’s up? Anything I can sell you?” Hm…probably not. How about “Hi Jon – I saw that you downloaded our white paper on 10 Tips for Improving your Widget ROI and our infographic on the Lifecycle of a Widget. Was that helpful for you? Are there any widget initiatives I can help you with or can I connect you with a widget expert?

Call me crazy (you wouldn’t be the first person), but I think that second talk track might get more traction. The key to enabling that conversation is insight. All sales has to do is take an extra moment to look at the behavioral history and marketing interactions of that lead and BOOM! that conversations is much more informed and much more likely to land a sale.