This article “Market Your Message” was published by Selling Power magazine, written by Kim Wright Wiley and taken from an interview with CustomerCentric Selling®.
All sales start with a story. The stories are sometimes comfortably familiar – as in, “Let me tell you about our new line of corn chips” – and sometimes require the listener to enter an entirely new world – as in, “Let me tell you about our new Penilex Compudrive 7000 XJP.” But one thing’s for sure: The more technical the product, the clearer the story needs to be.
When George Eastman sold his first camera, people hardly knew what a camera was, much less why they needed it or what they could do with it. Eastman came up with a simple, powerful and reassuring message: “You press the button, and we do the rest.” Kodak salespeople carried that message to the people, who quickly got the picture. People didn’t know what cameras were, back when Kodak first hit the market, and nobody knew what marketing was either. The advertising manager ran the sales department.
He created the message, the advertisement, the customer testimonials and the direct-mail pieces. The package was passed down to the sales manager, then to the salesman and finally to the customer.
Marketing today is a bit more complicated, given the highly competitive landscape. “Draw a big circle on a piece of paper,” says Charles Orlando, Director of Marketing at Pixion, an online Web Conferencing company. “Then put a small dot in the middle. The dot is your message; the circle is your market.” Every day, customers are bombarded by sales messages, often for products that are far too complex to be explained in a one-line catchphrase. The end result? When they’re overwhelmed by stimuli, customers can shut down faster than a malfunctioning Penilex Compudrive 7000 XJP. Ironically, in this age when the message needs to be as clear as possible, the people creating the message, i.e., the marketing department, are miles away from the people delivering the message, i.e., the sales force. Separated by layers of bureaucracy, marketing and sales departments may give lip service to the idea “We’re all on the same team,” when the reality is closer to “I have no idea what game they’re playing.
What’s the nature of this rift? Marketing focuses on data geared toward the theoretical customer while sales focuses on relationships with a real customer. The salespeople meet the marketing people only when new products are introduced – they may parachute in for special presentations, but aren’t in the field to respond to ongoing questions and concerns. While salespeople have to constantly justify their existence by closing sales and producing hard numbers, marketing is judged by a more liberal standard in comparison.
According to CustomerCentric Selling®, marketing and sales are typically separate silos in the company. They point fingers at each other; they blame each other for their problems. Behind closed doors, salespeople have a lot of gripes. The marketing guys come in late and leave early. They never wear ties; they’re always at lunch. They’re flaky, they’re arty and most of their brochures are totally useless. According to sales, the bottom line is that these guys never have to justify the bottom line. Marketing people respond with an even bigger insult. They secretly believe that the purpose of all great marketing is to make sales unnecessary; the message should drive the sales process. So, can this marriage be saved?