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“They never mix” and thinking of all the things those annoying sales people down the hall have done to you, from using outdated materials to sending customers letters and emails wrought with incorrect grammar and off-brand language.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.
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.
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.