When Sales and Marketing Don’t Mix, Part 2

Since it’s part two of the story, I’ll share two examples of ineffective sales strategy.

And even though I say “sales” in these cases, if you take a good, long look it’s clearly marketing that shares the blame. As a marketer, you have to align with and win over the sales team, and implement a holistic strategy that gives the customer consistency and value all the way through the value chain. If you don’t then you’re not doing your job. And making your job harder at the same time — because crappy sales contact leads to customers who don’t respond or come back in the future.

Example one is from a company in the meeting business. I get an email out of the blue from someone I don’t know — which in itself isn’t terrible, although we all know that the From Line is the most important factor in email open rates. We won’t even red flag this. However, the subject line of the email was “(E-mail Subject)“. Literally, that was it, character for character. Tells me this is a broadcast email gone wrong. That’s red flag #1.

HelmsBriscoeEmail

Red flag #2, as you see in the graphic above, is that the company’s logo doesn’t appear correctly. So not only does it push down the message in the email, it takes away from the brand and the message because it’s cut off. Again, this is a broadcast email done terribly — or a horrible cut and past job by the sales person who sent it. Lastly, red flag # 3 is the damn message is all about the company, nothing about the customer. No questions about my need for such services, no inquiries about my goals and problems, no facts about my industry. No dialogue.

I’ll actually throw in one more red flag too — when I asked how this person got my email, her response made it clear that it was harvested off of a website where it appeared. Now, that’s fine if you send me a personal email — but if you’re harvesting to broadcast, you’re setting yourself up for some very unfortunate consequences if you hit a honeypot and an ISP blacklists you. Did you know there are more than 43 million email addresses being monitored as spam honeypots?

Example two is from a genious operation (sarcasm) called InsuranceAgents.com. Same old story: unexpected email from sales rep, message that’s irrelevant to my business because they know nothing about me, terrible email copy and message. Well, all that and the fact that the email did not provide an opt-out mechanism. So now we’ve moved from just terrible judgement to actually violating the CAN-SPAM law. However, this person was actually — and sadly — all too honest when I asked how he got my email address. His reply was “One of my web spiders picked it up I guess.” Are you kidding me? Then after I informed him what a horrible practice this is and that not providing an opt-out for commercial email is illegal, he say “Thanks for the heads-up. Didn’t realize it was illegal.”

Now, this person is either a really clueless sales rep, or it’s a strong example of why you need to provide your sales team with training and messaging with which they can engage customers. Clearly these examples show that if they lack clarity and guidance on how to make the customer experience value-laden from the first point of contact, they will create an environment that’s actually counter-productive to things that customers value and that makes it harder for marketing to do its job. And while email is the most popular channel for these kind of abuses, it can also extend to telemarketing, direct mail and social media channels like Twitter.

So charge ahead right now and make sure your sales team isn’t engaging customers in any was similar to what’s mentioned above.

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When Sales and Marketing Don’t Mix — Part 1

I know what you’re thinking. You’re simultaneously saying “They never mix” and thinking of all the things those annoying sales people down the hall have done to you, from using outdated materials to sending customers letters and emails wrought with incorrect grammar and off-brand language. I mean, the notion that sales and marketing butt heads is not a secret — go Google “sales and marketing get along” and you get 57.5 million results.

GoogleScreenshot

Believe me, there is many a day that I side with you. I had one recently. Fortunately, in this case I wasn’t the marketer being wronged. I was actually on the receiving end of ill-conceived, ill-delivered, and out-of-context communications from over-eager sales folks. It’s the perfect example of what happens when marketing and sales don’t mix right (i.e., don’t have a unified, buttoned-up approach to the same business goals).

The guilty party is a company called Point It. The company is actually a notable and expert SEM/SEO agency with a great message and blue chip clients. They offer several valuable, free webinars and whitepapers on various aspects of SEM — and I love to attend and read that stuff, so it was a good match. This is a great way to engage potential customers. I gave them some basic contact info to access their materials.

A few days later I get an email out of the blue from someone at the company (withholding name here). I mean, it’s not totally out of the blue — you know that if you register for these things, you get contacted by a sales guy, it’s the third certainty now behind death and taxes. Yet this person, who knows nothing about me, proves that he knows nothing about me. Because the message is all about him. The subject line is about the company — actually, it’s the company’s name. And the message starts with “Thank you for your interest in Point It.” Really? When did I say that? I was interested in your whitepaper, yes. I guess that implies more. Fine, I’ll be flexible. “Attached is some basic information about our company.” So, you started me off with rich, deep content about the market and about SEO, and now follow it up with basic information about the company. Odd, I can find that on your site if I needed it. “When would be a good time for us to discuss search?” Did I say I wanted to do that? My flexibility ends now. Why start out with something so customer-centric — free whitepapers, free knowledge — and screw it up with a hard sell, me-talk-you-listen approach that alienates the customer? If I look for myself in that message, do I find myself?

To top it off, the entire rest of the email was about the company. Nothing about the customer. Nothing about me. No more free knowledge, no intuitive questions to learn more about me. No dialogue.

Email body copy

Email body copy

The good news is this can be fixed and these mistakes can be avoided. Sales and marketing do not have separate roles — marketing does not stop when someone raises their hand, so sales can pick it up and run with it. It’s your job as a marketer to equip your sales team with the messaging they need to engage. Marketing and sales need a unified strategy for the entire process of customer engagement. The standard is different now — it’s not about delivering leads so they can be closed. They must be engaged. That’s why social media and social networking are so powerful. You must listen first, have dialogue, and learn what you can do to provide value and be relevant. Relevance and engagement trumps spiffy sales pitches.

Now charge ahead and sell that to your sales team.

A Post to Remember the Fallen of 9/11

You typically read about all kinds of marketing in this blog.

Not on 9/11, not this year.

I signed up for a great cause, Project 2,996. It rightfully seeks to shine the light on the victims of 9/11, instead of the heartless radical cowards who caused it.

As part of Project 2,996, the person I am writing a tribute to is Luis Eduardo Torres. An immigrant from Mexico, Luis started with nothing and worked his way up to being a senior broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, a job he ironically started on September 10, 2001. He was a bikerider, hiker and skydiver. This was a man who paid his dues, worked hard, and had accomplished alot. There are a few more details on Luis on his page at Legacy.com, and several people have left beautiful comments in the guestbook.

Take a good, long look in the mirror today. Enjoy the day, breathe the fresh air. Tell your family you love them. Find something you’re passionate about and charge ahead after it.

Because you never know what will happen tomorrow.