Friday, February 03, 2006

rule: sales guys <> mushrooms

There is an insidious tendency among some folks in the marketing trade to treat field sales with barely-veiled contempt - "they're coin operated", "they'll use what we give them", "we aim, they fire" are all pithy quips I've heard from well-heeled & dressed, smile-brightened smarties in the past. The worst is "they're just another channel for us".

In short, smoothies like this advocate treating sales like mushrooms - "keep 'em in the dark and feed 'em s&!t".

Since I've "carried a quota" before, I know what it feels like to rely on "marketing". From sales' perspective, marketing sits in nice offices, drinks hot coffee, takes long lunches and publishes the occasional piece of collateral. More often than not, sales can't get a call returned from PM to save their lives, regards the glossies that marketing produces as crap, and prays to dark gods for case studies and metrics that will "actually work".

This is all a sign of bad communication colliding with bad expectations and bad planning.

In my experience, sales and product marketing need to be tied at the hip. Sure, we (product marketing) need to be available for sales calls (phone and on-site), of course, but what we really need is to partner with sales. We need their insight and customer touch - they need our access to engineering, market intelligence, positioning, solution development, research. . .

When marketing and sales collaborate, everyone wins. When it's Spy vs Spy, everyone loses.

Actually, that's wrong: marketing loses first, then sales loses. Then everyone loses.

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