- 17th October 2012
At several recent SiriusDecisions customer forums, we had great groups of marketing and sales folks talking about their work with strategic accounts. At one point, a question was asked of the b-to-b marketers in the room:
Do you go on sales calls?
Very few said they did this regularly. My sense is that marketers in general don’t join salespeople for customer or prospect calls very often. That is a terrible shame.
On the bright side, it’s not often as an analyst that I get to offer a “magic bullet” that solves lots of problems in a simple way. Now I do. Here it is: Marketers, go on some sales calls.
Yes, it’s that simple. Marketers are always looking to learn more about customers and sellers and what they need. Being part of sales interactions to hear firsthand how customers interact with our sellers or partners is a perfect way to do this. Joining sales calls can also help build trust and alignment with sellers, another goal of marketers. It’s also a form of training, where marketers get to know critical job functions and personas. Many goals, one simple way to meet them.
So, how to begin? First, find out what will be easiest for sales to support. Depending on your sales model, this may require setting up a day in the field with a seller, joining a strategic account rep on some calls, or sitting with an inside rep for an hour listening to calls. Ask sales if they have meetings they believe would be valuable for you to join. The key is to put time aside to learn from these critical interactions. I’m certainly not saying to do this every day, but how about once a month or once a quarter?
Sales may ask how to explain your presence in a meeting, or even cast a wary eye on the reasons why you want to join them. As Mark Twain said, “When in doubt, tell the truth.” Simply say you want to ensure marketing has a clear understanding of customer and sales needs so it’s possible to do a better job supporting them. If sales asks you to bring some additional value to the meeting, think about what you have to share. This might be survey findings, new content or interesting/pertinent data, or a success story you could review. Maybe bring some new messaging to get feedback, effectively turning the meeting into a research effort. Of course, before you do anything, ask sales for feedback on your plan. They also need to be clear with you on their objectives for the meeting to ensure what you share won’t negatively impact their progress in any way. Maybe you can think of something to help.
All planning details aside, the most important part is showing up and listening. Joining sales interactions is one of the least expensive and most powerful opportunities a marketer has to get direct information from customers and sales. Don’t miss out.
About the Author
Megan Heuer is Vice President and Group Director, Data-Driven Marketing, at SiriusDecisions. With more than 15 years of industry and professional services experience, she has worked both in – and for – organizations to build a wide variety of collaborative sales and marketing deliverables that drive systematic, predictable growth. Follow Megan on Twitter @megheuer