Sales is Not Your Customer

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Management consultants have been making noise for years about the importance of treating internal organizations and other employees as customers. The basic premise is sound: If people and organizations don’t work together in a productive and respectful manner, overall results will inevitably be poor. You could do much worse than adopting an enterprise-wide goal of “delighting” your internal customers as much as your external customers. It’s a very reasonable behavioral model. But all employees must understand this in a broader context.

The only REAL customers that matter, in the final analysis, are the ones that pay the bills. It’s true that many (if not a majority) of people go through their working lives focused entirely on “delighting” the next link in their value chain. But that doesn’t work anymore in smaller businesses trying to stay alive in an increasingly competitive and fast-paced world. Those companies will not survive unless every employee is focused on the most important result: Revenue.

If you are a marketer focused on satisfying an internal customer called sales, just stop it. Right now.

The sales organization is not your internal customer. Sales is your mission-critical partner with whom you need to work every day to find better ways of generating high-quality leads and closing sales. Everything you do (segmentation, customer personas, categorizing behaviors, etc.) requires insight from sales. By the same token, you have a responsibility to support the sales process to the end – whatever it takes. You also need intimate knowledge about the ultimate success or failure of sales leads. Without those details, you can’t improve your demand generation processes.

If marketers and sales folks behave as if there is a wall between them over which they throw sales leads and feedback, everyone is in big trouble. (The great scores from internal customer satisfaction surveys don’t matter.) Progressive businesses that understand the value of borderless and highly collaborative teams that focus on customers will, in the end, leave competitors with delighted employees in the dust.

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