A Sales & Marketing (Mis)Alignment Story: Mandy v Jack

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A short story about what happens when sales and marketing collide …

When Mandy finished the meeting, she was upset, and angry. Upset, because she had a bad sales call – the prospective customer couldn’t see the value Mandy knew her company would bring – and she was disappointed. She didn’t like to lose.

And yes, she was angry too; angry at herself for listening to Jack, the Chief Marketing Officer at JKHiggs Global. “Just present Dynamix14 this way and focus on the energy saving. That’s our key differentiator.” he said, “We’ve done the market research and we know what the customer wants.”

When Mandy switched her iPhone back on, she was glad to see a message from her friend Tom. Before Tom left to start his own business, he and Mandy had been in the trenches together for seven years and had become good friends. Now that Tom was building his new business – TE Dynamics Consulting he called it – he really didn’t have a lot of time to socialize.

Turning the corner as she walked towards her car, Mandy was buffeted by a chill wind. As she looked towards the darkening sky, she felt she needed something to brighten her day. She hoped Tom would be free for lunch or a coffee. As she selected his name from her iPhone contacts list, she wondered what he would think about what she planned to say to her CMO Jack later.

“Has your chandelier popped a bulb? Is your brain past its ‘Best Before’ date?” Tom’s colorful speech always amused Mandy, and she always enjoyed spending time with him, but this time, sitting in the Starbucks across from his ‘starter-upper-sorry-we-don’t-have-a-coffee-maker’ office, she was disappointed in his reaction to her suggestion.

“Look”, she said, trying to keep the emotion out of her voice, “Jack has been getting away with it for far too long. I like him, and all that, as a person, you know, but he doesn’t understand what the customer wants. He is costing JKHiggs business, and he’s costing me money. Someone needs to put this issue in front of the Executive Management team meeting.”

Tom took off his glasses, and rubbed his eyes slowly. This was getting tense, and Mandy had that I-don’t-care-what-anyone-says look. Time to diffuse things a little. “Ok, so what you’re saying is that Jack – much and all as you say you like him, as a person and all that – you think he’s about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.” Jack leaned forward on his elbows to look Mandy straight in the eyes. “But even if that is true – which I doubt – why do you have to be leading the crusade?”

“Tom, I thought you’d understand,” Mandy responded. “Jack, and the rest of the marketing team think that just because they’ve spoken to the analysts and done some market research, that they can tell us how it works in the field. But they rarely get in front of customers, and meeting with customers everyday is what we do.

“I’ve been successful selling ever since I came to JKHiggs, but now, with this change in positioning – and yes I do know we are trying to develop new markets – I’m going to struggle to make my number. You know I’ve never missed Club before, and if this is how it’s going to be ..”

“Steady now”, Tom interrupted, “let’s look at this calmly. From what I heard, the marketing team is generating more leads than ever before. The sales pipeline is bulging. What exactly are you saying?”

Mandy took a long sip from her latte, and sat back in the soft leather chair. “Ok, I admit I’m getting some leads; that’s not my problem, and I know marketing is investing heavily in brand awareness. But, isn’t it their job to help me move the deal along? If they had a quota like I do, then they’d at least take some interest in providing us with some help in moving deals through the different sales stages.”

“Listen Mandy, you know I love you, but I just don’t know what you’re on. If you think the marketing department is going to help you sell, then I’d like some of what you’re smoking. What does it say on your card? ‘Sales Executive’, right. Well, the clue is in the title. Your job is to sell. If Jack is filling the top of the funnel, that’s just as much as you can expect. I wish I had someone hand me leads. Now, my dear friend, don’t be a whiner. Accept that your meeting today wasn’t great, but dust yourself off and get back in the saddle.”

I don’t know Tom” Mandy sighed, ” I hear what you’re saying and I know you have my interests at heart, but customers are getting smarter and more knowledgeable all of the time. They are using things like Twitter and other social media tools to educate themselves on everything that’s going on; not just with us, but with our competitors, their industry and other companies like them. It’s not my pipeline volume I’m worried about; it’s my sales conversion rate and the pipeline velocity. Marketing is investing in the wrong place, and something needs to be done about it. I think Jack needs a good dose of reality.

Tom stood up and put his dropped his empty coffee cup in the trash. “Listen, I’ve go to get back to the day job. As they say ‘there’s no team in I’. Maybe you’ve got a good point, and I could just be out of touch. But ask some of the other guys what they think before you take on Jack, or you just might get Hi-Jacked, Bye-Jacked.”

So, what should Mandy do? Does she have a point? How does this story end?

You decide.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Donal Daly
Donal is Founder and CEO of The TAS Group the creators of the Dealmaker intelligent sales software application. Donal also founded Software Development Tools - acquired by Wall Data (NASDAQ: WALL), NewWorld Commerce, The Customer Respect Group and Select Strategies. Donal is author of five books including his recent #1 Amazon Bestseller Account Planning in Salesforce. He can be found on his blog at www.thetasgroup.com/donal-daly-blog or on Twitter @donaldaly

1 COMMENT

  1. Great story Donal and all too real. It’s not so much misalignment as it is lack of a common understanding of charters and goals and a lack of mechanisms for sales and marketing to work together. Mandy has assumed that Jack’s job is to help her with velocity. Yet Jack probably was goaled with growing the pipe and new markets. What your story points out is that alignment must extend down into the field. Marketing needs to partner with the field to understand what they need and what marketing activities are working or not. Sales needs to understand that marketing needs feedback. Mandy doesn’t realize that Jack is depending on her and her peers to close the loop on how well the new messaging is working. Marketing can only fine tune with feedback.

    What the story also points out is that sales and marketing leadership have not institutionalized alignment. If they had Mandy would know how to share the feedback with marketing, she would know if marketing’s comp plan was geared toward driving pipeline or field effectiveness. And Mandy might even consider the idea of taking a product marketing or sales enablement person along with her on sales calls to hear first hand what the prospect is saying.

    This story plays out every day in just about every company. Aside from the fact that this situation is completely avoidable, the sad part is that Mandy’s opinion of marketing, regardless of whether it is warranted or not, will be socialized and the company begins to slide down a slippery slope. Mandy needs to talk to Jack and share her experience and Jack needs to listen and find out if other sales people are having the same experience. I write quite a bit about alignment, check out my blog at http://www.christinecrandell.com or http://blogs.forbes.com/christinecrandell/

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