Six Anti-Establishment Marketing Rules for Sales-Driven Competitiveness

Tony Compton, Managing Partner

Last Tuesday morning saw me sitting in my car in Chicago. Parked on the side of the road killing five minutes, I tuned into a sports talk radio station. The discussion centered on this season’s success of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. The story behind their playoff-bound team has the city buzzing, and is the talk of the town.

In 2009 the Cubs were sold, and over the past several seasons new team owners tore down the old way of doing things in favor of a comprehensive new approach. New players, new prospects, a new team manager, and new ballpark renovations have highlighted the team’s resurgence. The Cubs are now headed back to the playoffs, and the new way of doing business at Wrigley Field has earned respect on both the North and South sides of town.

This is coming from a competitive and lifelong Chicago White Sox fan.
(No, I’m not defecting to the North Side!)

Back on the radio, the conversation turned to an aspect of the Cubs’ rebuilding process that sparked debates over the last several seasons. Fan Impatience. Most sports fans don’t want to wait to rebuild their team. They want to win, now!

To that notion, I thought that a comment by one of the sports talkers was great. He recalled a conversation with a rebuilding skeptic and said, “(They’ve) tried it one way for 106 years with no success. Don’t you think it’s time to try something new?”

1908 was the last time the Chicago Cubs won a championship.

Well Established Marketing, Well-Established Criticism of the Same

I read it again, and heard it again this week. The beat goes on. Another article, and another conversation about the marketing silo. Little sales support. No messaging. No content. No plan. Outdated. Disconnected. Well-established criticism, with more well-established complaining.

How long has it been this way between sales and marketing at your company? Don’t you think it’s time you tried something new with marketing? Get marketing off of the sidelines, and into the sales game.

Six Anti-Establishment Marketing Rules

1. Put That Coffee Down!

Though I’ve watched Glengarry Glen Ross numerous times, this isn’t another Alec Baldwin rip-off. Years ago, I attended a marketing conference that opened one morning with a man who held a cup of coffee while he stood next to a flip chart and condescendingly smiled and spoke about high-minded marketing concepts. I’m hard-pressed to recall more than two lines spoken at that event, but my imagination runs wild as I picture marketers huddled in a similar meeting room today, self-indulging on ornate material which is largely useless to salespeople under pressure to hit their numbers. Salespeople are pounding on that conference room door – right now – trying to get marketing’s attention. That marketing conference was years and years ago, yet the same sales and marketing disconnects continue. I have profound respect for marketing practitioners, analysts, and academics, but nobody should carry that elitist cup of coffee and preach utopian theory while a sales team needs immediate help. Marketing must get involved with what sales needs: messaging, content, and the opportunity and ability to deliver it. Today.

2. Introduce Competition Among Marketers

Oh, do I have your attention now? Competitions among salespeople are common, but what about marketing? Get marketers in the incentives game by offering them competitive opportunities. Create meaningful competitions based on their results: acquired contacts, qualified leads, the number and size of opportunities generated, and net-new closed deals. Competitions can be created among individual marketers, or by creating sales and marketing teams. You may employ digital, event, product, regional, and traditional marketers, and may have relationships with marketers at alliance or channel partners. Most would love the competition. While marketing is connected to sales, and performance is measured, competition can be introduced.

Keep score, and reward.

3. OOO, and On the Road

Get marketers out of the office and on the road with salespeople. Frequently, from the CMO down. Part of the frustration with marketing is that the department is disconnected from sales reality. Going on the road to visit with prospects is an excellent way to learn about sales pursuits, and what’s required from marketing to acquire, and protect, customers.

4. Mandatory Two-Hour Marketing Meeting, Last Day of Every Quarter, at 4:00 pm

Gather around marketers, and watch the sales contracts come in by the close of business on the last day of the quarter. Or not. Get the marketing team together at 4:00 pm on the last business day of the quarter to see how it ends. It’s not to hover over a fax machine to watch for signed contracts, but to witness the time up to, and immediately after, the deadline. It’s observing the aftermath, and its impact on coworkers. It may be a time for celebration, or it may be a time to take stock. Either way, there’s no arguing with the numbers, and marketing’s measured contribution.

5. Compensate Marketers for Opportunity and Revenue-Generating Performance

Some marketers may already be compensated on some form of opportunity and revenue performance. But programs vary wildly, and not all marketers are compensated for things such as marketing-sourced opportunities, or the size of new deals closed with the help of credited marketing efforts. Remove marketers from the once-a-year company bonus program based on vague appraisals and general profit and loss figures, and create a quarterly, marketing-sourced, opportunity and revenue performance-based compensation program.

6. One Body, One Script – ZERO Technology

I’m told that great storytellers are essential to sales and marketing’s future, but where are they? I’ve seen some, and know of others, but they’re the exception, not the rule. The rule seems to be that presenters can get by with standing and talking in front of text-heavy slides, and think that they’re doing a great job at storytelling!

To address this missing persons issue, marketing teams should lead by example. Every marketer should learn how to tell great business stories, and enable others to do the same. All can start to work on becoming a storyteller by practicing with what each of us has in common while we’re talking to an audience: one body, and one script. Set aside the standard conventions of automatically using technology and PowerPoint slides to bolster a presentation. At first, leave everything else behind. Once you’ve nailed down how you look and sound, how you’ll tell a story, and relate to an audience, only then should you consider bringing back any supporting technical elements.

When you realize what can be accomplished by only using your body and your script, the dependency on technical support, including the use of slides, will dramatically diminish.

One Additional Anti-Establishment Rule, for Sales

If marketers get into the sales game, welcome them, and teach them how to close. Show them what goes into negotiating, getting a deal done, and sitting across a table from a decision maker. Demonstrate how to spin around a contract, and offer a pen to an about-to-become new customer. Marketing can be fantastic at demand generation and uncovering qualified leads, but they’ll handsomely benefit from witnessing the last mile of a successful pursuit. Marketers may not realize it, but all can use sales skills to improve their performance. Teach marketers how to close, and you’ll be teaching them how to compete, and win deals, with a view from front lines.

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