HomeBlog Challenging Sales and Marketing Entitlements

Challenging Sales and Marketing Entitlements

July 13, 2012|Jason Hekl

In b-to-b, salespeople and marketers are often guilty of taking each other for granted. Leaving may not be a realistic option, but that doesn't mean those who are taken for granted are powerless to change their situation. Consider what could happen if marketers challenged a few of the most common "entitlements" plaguing the profession.

What happens when you take someone for granted? Well, eventually, that person wises up and figures out a way to upset the status quo, often in an unexpected way. That's what happened on the popular television series Mad Men when copywriter Peggy Olson gave notice that she was leaving Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, an advertising agency set in the 1960s. Her boss, Don Draper, was visibly surprised, even more so when he realized Peggy would not be dissuaded from her decision.

In b-to-b, salespeople and marketers are often guilty of taking each other for granted. Leaving may not be a realistic option, but that doesn't mean those who are taken for granted are powerless to change their situation. Consider what could happen if marketers challenged a few of the most common "entitlements" plaguing the profession. For example:

What if sales reps were not entitled to a teleprospecting team whose primary purpose is to qualify leads for them?

When I carried a bag selling enterprise software, I did not have teleprospectors calling into my territory to drum up demand. I would have given almost anything for support like that. That's what happens when something valuable is in scarce supply. It drives demand. But today, what I see more often are situations where every sales rep is entitled to access to inside resources. However, what if teleprospecting was treated as a scarce resource, made available only to top reps? Would we raise the performance ceiling for our most productive reps? Could we incent tighter collaboration between sales, marketing and teleprospecting on time-bound inside projects reserved only for projects deemed to have the best chance for success? That's exactly what some organizations are doing by reinventing their teleprospecting function as an internal agency. That agency does not have the capacity to serve every client, so it has to be selective in which projects to take on. That scarcity drives demand for its services – and behavior that drives results. It's a self-reinforcing dynamic.

What if marketers were not entitled to a teleprospecting function whose primary purpose is to call on and qualify marketing responses?

Instead of expecting the inside team to call on every marketing response, what if you were entitled to only a fraction of their time and forced to think more critically about how to leverage that time most productively? What if your subsequent allocations of teleprospecting resources were dependent on what outcomes you were able to achieve on prior programs, relative to other groups competing for access to those same resources? Would it serve as a forcing mechanism for better quality? Would it ensure that the most thoughtful and well-planned marketing programs had higher levels of inside support than ad hoc efforts to follow up on marketing leads? It may seem Darwinian, but there's no denying the human nature to work harder at just about anything if we are in danger of losing it.

In each scenario, scarcity can drive changes in behavior that lend themselves to greater productivity from alignment and interlock. The point here is not to advocate for these exact changes, but to simply recognize that there should be no sacred cows. Entitlement has no place in b-to-b sales and marketing, and any demand creation or lead management process dependent on one group taking another for granted is a good candidate for disruptive innovation. Eliminate the sacred cows and experiment with process changes that could flourish in their absence; you might be surprised by the results.

Jason Hekl

Jason Hekl is Vice President and Group Director at SiriusDecisions. With an emphasis on developing and executing demand generation strategies to accelerate growth, Jason has sourced, developed and closed millions of dollars in new business throughout his 19-year career. Follow Jason on Twitter @the_hekler.

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