Posted to Tim Sharp's blog on June 12th, 2012

CMO’s: 3 things you don’t know about your sales team (but should)

The role of the CMO is ever evolving. It has now taken on superhero proportions with responsibilities ranging from top line revenue, to branding and social media engagement. To make matters worse, as CMO, you are responsible for results and outcomes that are dependent on others in the organization to accomplish. 

No matter what you do, or how well you do it, your lead generating program is only as good as your sales team’s ability to close those leads. Friction can then arise between sales and marketing because each can point to the other for their perceived lack of success.

Has this ever happened to you?

Your inbound marketing strategies created 36 leads this past week which were then forwarded to your sales team. As CMO you are pleased with the fact that you outdid your best lead generation campaign by 15% and are confident the sales numbers for the following month will reflect your efforts. Of course, the next month rolls around and you find out sales were off by over 10% and the CEO and VP of sales want to meet to discuss the current problems with the lead generation system.

What gives?

Your first thought, and most logical response is that you need to find a better sales team. While you may be right, before you make that recommendation, here are marketing tips you might want to know about sales people that can help make your life a lot easier.

1. Sales people are highly social creatures

Sales appeals to our social nature. Each prospect is like a Rubik’s cube that needs to be solved. If a prospect has a problem, it becomes our problem, and we are going to work hard to find a winning solution. Being in sales suits our social nature because we are always meeting new people and feel adrenalized with each new meeting. To us, a new contact is a new prospect. With that kind of energy, the sales team’s first response is always going to be to say that lead quality and quantity is the reason that sales are off. If we were given good leads, we would naturally build great relationships and fight to win the deal.

Stop: Recommending that sales improve their process and skill set.

Start: Building a relationship with them.

Based on the size of your sales team, try to get to know each person by name and learn a little bit about each person on the team. (If you have a really large team, focus at the director and VP level). Try asking them, both formally and informally, the following:

  • What constitutes a good lead?
  • Describe the best sale they made the past year. What made it the best? 
  • What can you do to make them more successful?

Knowing and understanding can direct the types of lead generation programs and marketing strategies you put in place and the type of messaging you use for each program. If nothing else, the sale team will know you love them!

2. Sales people are often really good at talking, but not listening.

Sales people often corner a discussion and put themselves right in the center of it all. When others are talking, we are thinking about the next thing we want to say or simply not paying attention. Again, sad but true.

Stop: Crafting the company message and then asking the sales team the company message.

Start:Asking them what they are actually saying to their customers.

You may be surprised at the way your team is pitching your products and services. Knowing this information can help you craft a message that will be consistent with what the sales team is pitching. I have found over the years that what actually works in the field (making sales) is very different than what my marketing team thinks should work.

3. Sales people love marketing (even if we don’t act like it)

Don’t worry if friction exists between you and the sales team because it’s normal. Think about it this way, good sales people should want more leads to be productive and valuable. Marketers want to grow top line revenue and want the very best out of the leads they turn over to sales. Even when leads are abundant and sales is closing every client they visit, it makes sense that the true professionals among us will not be satisfied. The desire to succeed may make for some tense moments, but when it is all said and done, we can’t live without you. Your work makes ours possible, and for that we are thankful. We need you for leads and new opportunities, but we sometimes miss the fact that you need us too. Sorry, about missing that part of the equation.

Stop: Putting up with oblivious sales people

Start: Telling us what you do!

Let your team know the types of marketing strategies and activities that you are engaged in. It may not lighten your load, but it will certainly create empathy and appreciation. Let your sales team know how hard you work to bring in leads to keep their pipelines churning out more deals. Challenge them to get more with what they are already have. We don’t want to hear this, but we know that referrals, networking, and partner channels are squarely in our court and we can always do more to get more from each of these sources. When you funnel us a high quantity of quality leads, it allows us to get lazy. When the leads slow down, it is often easier to blame marketing then to get after it again. Remember, whether your sales team tells you or not, they really do love you.

Have a comment? Sign in: