If you are part of a B2B marketing department that has a dedicated sales force you probably feel the pain and frustration of trying to do your best to give sales what they need. In return you probably hear that they are creating their own work anyway. Sometimes you even ask what they want directly and follow their direction to the letter – and they STILL don’t use what you create. Why? 

They Don’t Know What They Need
In theory it seems simple; you ask sales what they want, you do it, they use what you create. However, in practice this has been found to actually have the opposite effect. What research experts have discovered is that people in general just don’t know what they need and certainly can’t articulate it. The old brain that has the majority of impact on decision making and the drive for what is “needed” has no language center. It is not that they don’t want to tell you – they physically can’t due to the way the brain processes information. 

1. Frame of Reference 
People in general are bound by their own frame of reference; they can only see things through their own lens. That means they will associate with what they already have and only be able to visualize an improvement to something they are familiar with. This premise is why Henry Ford famously said, “If I'd asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse”. 

2. They Don’t Know What You Can Create 
Sales reps are not marketing experts. They have no idea of the scope of creativity that you can produce. And since they are bound by their own frame of reference, they will never be able to tell you anything more than to make a change to something they already know. This leads marketing on a wild goose chase to make every conceivable version of a material only to find it still not hitting the mark and not being used. 

3. Want vs. Need 
A “need” is something that is extremely necessary for a person to survive (or in this case to make a sale). A “want” is something that a person desires, either immediately or in the future. Unlike needs, wants differ from one person to another. People in general can’t express their needs clearly because they reside in their old brain which has no language center (meaning they have no way to vocalize the thought). What people can vocalize however is “wants”. Most people have a lot of those and they can change – frequently. They are also different depending on the person, the situation, or the time. “Needs” on the other hand, are true to the problem that needs to be solved or the activity that needs to be accomplished. This stays relatively consistent among different people at different times. 

So What Can Marketers Do?
The way of resolving this is to get sales to give you the data to find their unexpressed needs – or those things they need to get their job done that they can’t articulate. And do it without falling into the trap of asking them what they want.


1. Define Sales Activities
The first thing to do is to interview sales associates and compile a list of their activities. The easiest way to do that is to start within a sales person’s frame of reference (such as a sales cycle) and have them describe what activities they have to do to get to the next stage of their process. A good question to use is, “What five activities do you have to do to get a buyer from stage A to stage B?” You may need to use some probing questions to get a clear list of essential activities they are performing throughout the selling cycle.


2. Identify the Coordinating Goals
Delve into the “why” of each activity that is on your list. Try to get a clear goal for each activity. Asking “What are you trying to accomplish with the buyer during this activity?” can help move the conversation forward. 


3. Create and Activity Map
Now that you have your list of activities and goals it is time for you to put your code breaker hat on and translate this data into a tool that marketing can use to help map their initiatives. The first step is to take the data around each activity and determine if it is relevant to marketing. Is a tool or material needed to accomplish this task? Once that is established then you can pinpoint where that activity would fall within the customer buying cycle. The buying cycle is preferred for the mapping exercise over the sales cycle because as marketing we need to connect to our customer. Customers, as we all know, work on their own terms and do not follow a sales cycle (as much as we would like them to). You may need to roll some activities together or decipher sales lingo into common terms that everyone will understand. Once you have all of your activities mapped to the customer buying cycle the fun can begin!


4. Perform a Materials Analysis
By this time you should have a nicely mapped out list of activities against your customer buying cycle and know the “why” behind each one. Now you can go through each of the materials you have for your focus project and see if you can match them to one of the activities on your map. Be honest! If it doesn’t fit just set it to the side. This will give you a good idea of how many of your current materials visibly match to a task sales is trying to accomplish. You will also find the holes – things that you have never produced that would assist sales in getting a customer from point A to point B. Don’t be surprised if some of these items don’t fall into the category of things you would typically consider “marketing materials” (such as talk tracks or how-to documents). You will have to expand your definition of marketing to truly connect with your sales teams.

Once you complete this process you should have a good idea of what sales actually needs – those things that help them complete an activity they need to move the buyer towards a sale. Now you are on the road of creating marketing materials that sales will use and will make a difference in the field. You will also have a clear roadmap moving forward that you can use to direct new initiatives to make sure you are hitting all the important touchpoints.

Sometimes running a sales enablement project can be frustrating, trying to get two seemingly alien groups to coordinate. Treating it as a research project and systematically gathering the information to create an activity map can be your first baby step on the way to full sales and marketing alignment.
 
 
Reality - the state of things as they are or appear to be, rather than as one might wish them to be. That's according to Dictionary.com. So what does that have to do with marketing? Well, it seems to me that marketing has become something of an enigma. Everyone can do it but no one understands it. It is really simple but incredibly complicated. Many small businesses see marketing as being overwhelming and are too close to see their way. Ironically, many larger corporations have whole marketing departments in an ivory tower throwing money around in the name of "awareness" and segregating themselves from what is really happening with the company that they are supporting. Neither of these situations will work.

Reality Marketing, on the other hand, is a philosophy of looking at marketing in a straightforward, structured, and honest way. Assessing the good, bad, and ugly about the current situation and coming up with simple solutions to complicated problems. No jumping on the latest marketing fad, no fancy confusing names or technical jargon. The basis of this comes from my personal definition of marketing - everything that influences the way your customers think about you. This may not even include advertising or social media, the things that many people associate as the basis of marketing. But marketing is so much more than that.

What's your take?
 
 
Or…how is sales enablement any different from just good marketing? Here’s a shocker. It’s not. The problem is that so many companies have such a disconnect between their sales and marketing departments that it becomes this huge issue with its own fancy coined terms like “sales enablement” and “sales and marketing alignment” (personally I just like to call it “marketing through sales” but it is kind of long).

Here is an easy three step process to tell how much time, energy, effort, and cash you should be spending on what channel.

1. Goals
What is your goal? If it is to increase sales, get a strong company message across, and/or play a part in the buying decision then read on. If it is to create a bunch of shiny stuff for no real apparent reason then I think you can stop reading now. Or – go ahead and read then leave me a defensive comment at the end. It will be fun.

2. Percent Messaging
What percent of the company message gets to your customer through what channel? Map it out if you need to. If you are a B2B company with a dedicated sales force I would guarantee that it is over 80% through field sales (in fact the stats average 85%). So let’s see what that looks like…
Huh. That’s a pretty big piece of the pie. So what percentage of your resources (both time and money) is spent on marketing through sales? I would guess it is a much smaller portion. In fact, I would venture that those percentages are flipped in most companies. 

3. End Customer Buying Decision
53% of executives use “Field Interactions” and the message they deliver as their main factor for making buying decisions. They ranked it higher than price, product, and brand combined. What do you think is the percentage your sales force has in the buying decisions your customers make? Would it be more or less than 50%?
So… if you have a goal of selling, the majority of your company message is delivered through your sales force, and your customers are weighting their interactions with your sales force greater than other factors then you need to have a solid plan for marketing through sales. This includes reallocating your resources to reflect that. The fact is that, in this situation, it is the only answer to communicating a cohesive message that resonates and makes a difference with your customers. Or in other words – just good marketing. 

What do you think? How do you determine what to spend your resources on?
 
 
If you are part of a B2B marketing department that has a dedicated sales force you probably feel the pain and frustration of trying to do your best to give sales what they need. In return you probably hear that they are creating their own work anyway. Sometimes you even ask what they want directly and follow their direction to the letter – and they STILL don’t use what you create. Why? 

They Don’t Know What They Need
In theory it seems simple, you ask sales what they want>>you do it>>they use more. However, in practice this has been found to actually have the opposite effect. What research experts have discovered is that people in general just don’t know what they need and certainly can’t articulate it. The old brain that has the majority of impact on decision making and the drive for what is “needed” has no language center. It is not that they don’t want to tell you – they physically can’t due to the way the brain processes information. 

1. Frame of Reference 
People in general are bound by their own frame of reference; they can only see things through their own lens. That means they will associate with what they already have and only be able to visualize an improvement to something they are familiar with. This premise is why Henry Ford famously said, “If I'd asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse”. 

2. They Don’t Know What You Can Create 
Sales reps are not marketing experts. They have no idea of the scope of creativity that you can produce. And since they are bound by their own frame of reference, they will never be able to tell you anything more than to make a change to something they already know. This leads marketing on a wild goose chase to make every conceivable version of a material only to find it still not hitting the mark and not being used. 

3. Want vs. Need 
A “need” is something that is extremely necessary for a person to survive (or in this case to make a sale). A “want” is something that a person desires, either immediately or in the future. Unlike needs, wants differ from one person to another. People in general can’t express their needs clearly because they reside in their old brain which has no language center (meaning they have no way to vocalize the thought). What people can vocalize however is “wants”. Most people have a lot of those and they can change – frequently. They are also different depending on the person, the situation, or the time. “Needs” on the other hand, are true to the problem that needs to be solved or the activity that needs to be accomplished. This stays relatively consistent among different people at different times. 

So What Can Marketers Do?
The way of resolving this is to get sales to give you the data to find their “Unexpressed Needs” – or those things they need to get their job done that they can’t articulate. And do it without falling into the trap of asking them what they want. 

The key to finding what marketing materials sales will use is to find out what activities they perform to get a buyer to go from point A to point B in the buying cycle and what their goal is for each one. Once you can create an Activity Map of the sales actions throughout the buying cycle you can start aligning your marketing materials to those actions to help sales get the buyer to the next point. This will get you to the bottom of what sales actually needs – those things that help them complete an activity that they need to move the buyer towards a sale.

Sometimes running a sales enablement project can be frustrating, trying to get two seemingly alien groups to coordinate. Treating it as a research project and systematically gathering the information to create an Activity Map can be your first baby step on the way to full sales and marketing alignment.


What have you tried to align your marketing and sales teams?
 
 
According to the latest Adobe survey marketing needs some marketing of its own. Consumers surveyed rated marketing as one of the least valuable professions. Politicians and bankers were rated higher. Politicians. I feel like I have to go to a therapy group or something, “My name is Jennifer and I am a marketer”. The funny thing is that marketers didn’t rate themselves much higher. That says something…

 So what is up with these results? Here are some of my thoughts.

Marketing Has Relegated Itself to All Things Shiny
I don’t know if it was the growth of the ad agency model or something else, but it seems the territory of what is and isn’t marketing has shrunk. I actually had someone say to me “price has no place in marketing”! And yes, this person was a marketing manager. My apologies to Jerome McCarthy. So what is marketing? Well, apparently brochures and videos. And maybe social media. Or whatever is the HOT medium of the day. Note I said medium not content. All surface with no substance. I wonder why the marketers of today are OK with this?

Overarching Strategy Has Left the Building
It is interesting to me that the marketing department has become separated from the rest of the business. As if somehow it can operate in a vacuum. Breathing in its own fumes. What happened to marketing having a seat at the strategy table? What happened to marketing DRIVING the business strategy?

Product Developers Are Driving the Business
Somehow along the way the product developers and planners have taken the lead position in business strategy and execution. That is how we end up with product led marketing. In this marketing world the product manager tells marketing what to say, which usually includes lots of feature preaching and heavy emphasis on the “cool” functions they just added in this release. The problem is that no one is speaking for the customer anymore. Hello product, meet the commodity world.

Marketing gave in to all of the above. It has become tag lines, attractive graphics, and pitch men. It is perfect hair, news anchor voice, and the ever trendy suit. No wonder the Adobe study found 53% of consumers agree that most marketing is BS. Why shouldn’t they? What has marketing done to prove them wrong?

I do have hope though that marketing can get its mojo back. There has been a new emphasis on the real meaning of marketing. Social media and the rise of content marketing have people thinking a little deeper (of course there are always those trying to find the easy way out – content farmers). Thought leaders such as Seth Godin are coming out with ideas like the Circles of Marketing, which is just pure brilliance and ties all of this together perfectly.
So what do you think? Is marketing doomed to be a line on an expense report or can it become a strategic force?