Thoughts From a Busy Salesperson on Marketing’s 2016 Predictions

Tony Compton, Managing Director

I logged on to LinkedIn this morning, and what do I see?
A whole lot of marketing predictions that don’t have a damn thing to do with me!

I thought about the opening lines to The Eagles’ song Get Over It, and added a little twist to the lyrics. Plus I imagined what it would be like if Don Henley sang those two revised lines.

Look, I’m all for the advancements in marketing and the supporting technologies, but my alliance remains first and foremost with the salesperson who has a mandate to hit their revenue numbers, or else. And for all of the talk of how every aspect of marketing life is now tracked, personalized, and driven by data, the salesperson sitting on the overnight flight to the East Coast still needs content, a supportive marketing team, the human communication skills to articulate value, and yes, an expert marketer to intimately work alongside to close new business.

Imagine what a salesperson is thinking when the 99th article about marketing’s ornate 2016 predictions is once more center-screen, and they have an 8:00 am sales meeting with a ball-busting team of executives in Midtown Manhattan. Sometime around 6:00 am, while taxing to the gate at Newark, that salesperson is thinking:

1. March 31 Is Just Around The Corner

There are fewer than 90 days until I have to make my numbers. And I have to make my numbers. That fact seems to be lost on marketing. While I’m out pursuing new business and closing deals, marketing wants to talk about buying more technology and spending more money on programs that don’t help me at all with my next set of executive meetings – let alone my Q1 sales numbers.

2. Pull Your Nose Out

The last time I saw the marketing team in the office, it was a real treat. Nobody was talking to each other, as each one was enamored with his or her mobile device. Excuse me, but my time in the office is rare and I’d appreciate not having to interrupt your digital playground so we could work together on uncovering and closing new opportunities.

3. What Am I Suppose to do With This?

Each time I ask about sales and marketing assets to use in my pursuits, I’m directed to log on to our “system” and retrieve what’s in there. Beyond having to search through a mountain of content, I’m presented with aging and outdated material produced sometime over the last 10 years. Is this what passes for sales enablement?

4. Your Forcing Me To Act Alone

I was hired to sell. To spend my time with prospects and customers. To close new business, and to generate net-new revenue. Not to be a graphic designer. Not to be a long-form writer. And not to be a tour guide, roaming through the forests of local laptops and corporate repositories in search of worthless sales and marketing assets.
I don’t want to create my own content. My boss doesn’t want me to create my own content. The CEO and investors don’t either. But you’re forcing me and others in sales to waste time in doing so.

5. Same Old Story

The calendar says January 2016, and I’m flooded with marketing industry predictions for the next twelve months. But I’ve yet to read one story, from one marketer, about how they’re finally going to hit the road with sales, be aligned and compensated on opportunities and revenue sourced back to marketing programs, and work to deliver the real results that the executives and shareholders expect. Is it really 2016? Feels the same as 2015, 2014, 2013…

6. I Have a Buyer Journey, Too

I’m your internal customer, but you know nothing about me. Nor do you know anything about my sales colleagues, or those of our partner companies. Do you know what issues I face, in my region, in the industries I serve? Where I get my information? Or what forms of content are most useful? Do you know what my target numbers are this quarter?

7. Are You Actually Going To Do Anything?

I recall the 2015 predictions, too. And the year before that. In the end, you’ve ended up cobbling disconnected pieces of aged technology, maintaining now-indecipherable data, with no stomach to fix what truly needs attention. Yet again marketing talks about advance technology that’s going to change the world. Fix what needs attention first, and if you actually do anything new and meaningful over the next 12 months we’ll talk.

8. Where Are You Going?

You’re off to Vegas for the next technology show? To do what? I need marketing here, now, and in the trenches with me to start the New Year, not roaming the halls of the Vegas Convention Center playing with tech gadgets. Plus we have our own events coming up this quarter. Have you even started to maximize our investment in those shows, or are you going to send me out there again with the same stained table drape and stack of frayed brochures?

9. Wish I Had Somebody Who Could Speak To Prospects and Customers

You’re good at sending emails and tweets, but I really need somebody who can stand in front of a conference room of executive prospects and discuss our value prop, product roadmap, and case studies. Or somebody who can creatively provide strategic insight into the future direction of our industry. I tried that once with marketing, and the communication skills of that person were atrocious. Digital marketers have their place, but I need somebody with a greater personal communication skill set who can talk to prospects and customers.

10. I’m Not The Only One

No sales person at this company was hired to create their own content, or reinvent what’s on file. And I’m not the only one with sales needs from marketing. Every sales person has voiced their concern over the lack of marketing support, and how marketing spends its time on things which have little to no impact on immediate sales pursuits. So if its everybody for him or herself, we’ll just do what we have to do. Never mind guidelines on branding, content, logo usage, and the rest. We’ll create our own. The topper is that I’ve seen what some of my sales colleagues have created. They’re the champs at making stuff up, lousy graphics, horrific slides, and incomprehensible written material.

But there goes the bell to unfasten my seatbelt. It’s now showtime for me. My plane has pulled into the gate. I have plenty of other thoughts on Marketing 2016, but now have to focus on getting into Manhattan and getting a signature to close this deal. I’d like to tell you more about it, but you were only in the office for one day on Monday before flying to Vegas for your show. By the time you get back to work on Monday, I’ll have visited five more customers and prospects by then.

And there’ll be plenty of time to air marketing’s Dirty Laundry at the upcoming sales kickoff.

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