Bearden, Ingram, LaForge (2001)
Recently a distribution company in my native Caribbean Nations engaged me to educate (we prefer to educate people and let them train themselves) their sales people in contemporary selling strategies. They were not meeting numbers and thought the answer was in getting a really sharp sales force.
During the opening exercises I noticed the absence of people from their marketing department. At the break I asked why, and the short answer was they don’t need to attend sales training because they don’t sell anything. They create advertisements, plan events and so on, but they don’t sell. That’s not their job.
While they were not exactly at war, you would not be surprised to learn that their Marketing and Sales were two silos. They had never been on a sales call together. Of course they had the benefit of much market research etc., but Marketing never sat in front of a large prospect who was either indifferent or hostile to their company and its product or service offerings.
Having heard that, I couldn’t help wondering about the effectiveness of their marketing and what value they really created for the sales team and the organisation as a whole. Did they really know to, “mix the marketing mix?” And how could they estimate the importance and quality of relationships and other soft factors in the buying process for their company? Did they really know which way to go?
In that brief interlude I had few answers. But there was one question that lingered: “Should it be mandatory for marketing people to have at least basic sales training and make period sales calls with front-line sales people?” What is your experience?
Written by: Herman D. Alvaranga, founder of the Caribbean School of Sales Management where we solve the toughest marketing and sales problems.