(This week's guest post is from Scott Costa, Publisher, tED magazine. We weren't able to go to AdVenture this year but it's the best industrial marketing conference for the electrical manufacturing and distribution industry. Our Creative Guide is from a presentation we gave at 2004's conference. We just got the 8-19-2016 NAED eNews with this article featured.)
The 2016 NAED AdVenture Conference brought together about 140 marketing professionals in the same room.
And one sales professional.
John Lorince from Leff Electric was in the company's marketing department, but moved to an outside sales position. His presentation drew the most questions and comments of the entire AdVenture Conference. By far.
There were the obvious jokes about sales people being from the "Evil Empire" or "The Dark Side." But Lorince really put a lot of what marketing does into perspective by saying, "Some of what I thought was important, wasn't," when talking about his time in the marketing department. He also asked the marketing crowd how often they go on sales calls, and the answer was an overwhelming "once in a while." Lorince believes it should be more than that. On the flip side, you have to wonder how many times a salesperson attended a marketing meeting or conference. Perhaps joining the two groups together a little more often would help bridge the communications gap.
Lorince added that it is extremely important for the marketing team to treat him like the customer. "Sell the products to me, so I can sell them to someone else," he advises. He also said he appreciates it when a member of the marketing team makes quick visits to his office to work with him on sales or special pricing, because in the long run it will make his job easier.
Lorince did a great job of providing a series of tips to the marketing people at the AdVenture Conference. So great that, before he finished, he was asked to mark his calendar to come back next year and address the group again.
His speech is really a great start to a very old problem. On one side, you have a marketing department that is using research, product knowledge, and concepts that set buying your products apart from the competition as an advantage. On the other side, you have sales people using research (like past history in successful selling), product knowledge, and concepts for setting himself apart from any other salesperson from another company to use as an advantage. So why are the two departments so far apart?
I tracked down some quotes from experts on B2B practices outside of electrical distribution, to find where they are seeing failures between marketing and sales. They are worth reading to see if you are experiencing the same situations. For example, Stephanie Tilton of Savvy B2B Marketing says, "Many corporate cultures don't support a meeting of the minds between sales and marketing. And without the support of upper management, any valiant attempts to close the gap will fizzle out. Whereas marketing often revolves around a campaign schedule, sales is sweating to meet quota."
Jennifer Beever or New Incite believes the problem between sales and marketing is traditional, and that tradition needs to end. "Traditional departments operate in silos, with each performing their function but not interacting with others. On one hand, too many marketing departments believe they need to operate autonomously, with input from sales. On the other hand, too many salespeople take a ‘maverick' approach, and don't give marketing credit for generating leads," Beever says.
This is an interesting topic, especially as we are seeing significant changes to our supply chain, including innovative new products being launched and the significant impact mergers and acquisitions have already had on our distributors and suppliers. We have assigned our writers to take an even deeper look into this, and tedmag.com will be building stories to help you bridge the gap between sales and marketing.
We also hope John Lorince accepts the invitation to come back to AdVenture next year. We can all use more insight from people like him. Maybe he can get even more salespeople to come with him.