Is Your B2B Marketing Helping or Undermining Your Sales Organization?


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B2B marketing organizations may be unintentionally undermining the credibility and effectiveness of their expensive and important direct sales professionals.

I’m talking about the “ICBM approach” of launching content over the heads of the sales organization directly to customers and prospects with whom sales people are actively engaged.

If a company has a direct sales force, and marketing is allowed to operate this way, it is unproductive and dangerous.

What message does this send?

1) We (marketing) are not aligned with sales
2) We don’t really care what sales are up to
3) We know what the customer wants better than the sales person does
4) We don’t trust sales to deliver our messages

I don’t care for military analogies but this seems relevant: in previous wars, bombing campaigns were conducted primarily by dropping large numbers of dumb bombs from aircraft. This method accomplished some objectives, but was not precise and produced a lot of collateral damage. Modern warfare has used laser-guided missiles to more surgically attack precise targets with minimal collateral damage. The missiles are often guided by a soldier on the ground with a laser pointed at the target.

When marketing organizations prepare content so it can be easily selected and even tailored for individual customers, and delivered using the customer’s preferred method by the sales professional, everyone wins.

Marketing controls the message, brand, and content while optimizing the impact on customers. Sales professionals use the content to create value for the customer. This improves the sales person’s brand and image as a valuable resource for the customer and sets the groundwork for becoming a real (trusted) advisor. The customer experiences relevant content, delivered conveniently and at the right time, and an appreciation of the service provided by the sales professional.

This isn’t hard to do. But it does require a different mindset and operating process on the part of marketing. Given the direct investment companies make in the their sales organization, and the amount of business they expect those resources to produce, at lot is at stake.

If marketing can accomplish the business revenue objectives going directly to the customer, they should, and the direct selling organization should be disbanded. But if a direct selling organization is required, marketing should help maximize the effectiveness of this expensive resource, and consider how any direct campaign will affect this objective.

Jim Burns
Jim Burns is founder and CEO of Avitage, which provides content marketing services in support of lead management and sales enablement programs.


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