Should Marketers Make Joint Calls With Sales People?


imagesSales personnel, along with management, are the prime bearers of the burden of contributing to profit by producing revenue.”

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.


LIME: The Caribbean’s Biggest Marketing Failure?

Untitled 2.001 “A refreshed Flow will be the unified consumer-facing brand throughout the Caribbean, replacing the former LIME and Flow businesses.” It is time to say ‘goodbye’ to our old friend, LIME… ”

– Phil Bentley (May 2015), CEO, C&W Communications

Why kill the LIME brand on which they invested so many $billions in the past 8 years? The simple answer is that it was a failure. So how do we know that? Let’s listen to Drucker, the acknowledged grandfather of modern management.

“There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer. …. Therefore, any business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation.”

– Peter Drucker (1954), The Practice of Management, pp. 39–40

Having heard from Drucker, we looked at the latest annual report (2014) for LIME Jamaica. With, “Marketing Highlights,” and, “Corporate Social Responsibility Report,” appearing ahead of, “Financial Statements,” you didn’t have to guess what the financials were like. Turnover declined every year and net worth had fallen to negative J$23Billion! Yes. It is on life support. A failed brand. But why?

Following Drucker, LIME has done very well on the innovation side of the equation by creating numerous excellent products. But good products alone never did guarantee financial success. So what then, of LIME’s marketing? Let’s hear from two of my favourite marketers; first a successful practitioner, and then a celebrated academic.

“The sole purpose of marketing is to get more people to buy more of your product, more often, for more money.”

– Sergio Zyman (1999) The End Of Marketing As We Know It, pp 11

LIME, recording declining revenues every year, was a colossal marketing failure. But why? Let’s hear from McDonald.

“Companies who recruit professionally qualified marketers with appropriate experience have a far greater chance of success than those whose marketing departments are staffed by just about anybody that fancies themselves as marketers.”

– Malcolm McDonald (2007), Marketing Plans, pp.7

While there is clear evidence that LIME has qualified accountants, engineers and so on, the question must be raised about the capabilities of their senior marketers. For how could marketing spend rise while revenues fall? And did LIME fall into the trap of hiring popular pseudo marketers that focus on attaining brand recognition instead of qualified marketers that focus on brand preference and brand resonance? Come to think of it, were LIME’s senior marketers being guided by a carefully constructed strategic marketing plan that could stand up to either rigorous theoretical or pragmatic scrutiny? Or were they 1-P marketers (Promotions) who never fully understood how to create a sustainable competitive advantage and compete through the new marketing mix?

Allow me one final question: from looking at LIME’s corporate mission, vision, and promise, can you tell what business they are in and identify a clear brand strategy?

RIP LIME. This is a classic case of a good product that suffered from poor product strategy and fatal brand management, beginning with a name that could never find favour in the Jamaican context.

So, is LIME the Caribbean’s biggest marketing failure?

Herman D. Alvaranga is a marketing and sales strategist.

After 7 Years of Losses, Has LIME/C&W Jamaica Lost its Way?

Compass.001 Last week LIME Jamaica announced that it incurred losses of J$1.8B for the Quarter ended December 31, 2014. A cursory glance at their latest annual report revealed that turnover declined for each of the last four years, and shareholders’ equity deteriorated to a negative, yes, negative J$23.8B. This begs the question, “Has LIME lost its way?” Jamaica needs LIME. Now everyone knows how easy it is to find fault with what someone else is doing. That is not my mission. Instead, I shall offer two suggestions for their consideration, and some of you will, I’m sure, add or subtract.

  1. Revisit your mission. LIME’s stated mission is, “To understand and deliver to our Government, Businesses and Families.” If that is still the mission, please revisit: for your mission statement should, among other things, provide direction for setting the firm’s business goals or objectives. Let’s look at the GraceKennedy example: “To take the taste of Jamaican and other Caribbean foods to the world and world-class financial services to our region.” Clear and simple. It tells you exactly what GK is about. Given this focus, setting production, financial and marketing goals becomes easier.
  2. Fix your marketing. You cannot increase marketing spend by 41% and report declining revenues. It is time to get assistance from someone who can translate LIME’s 100% brand recognition to high brand resonance. Please refer to my post of February 1, 2015, which spoke of, “The Emerging Strategic Role of the Chief Marketing Officer.”

So, has LIME lost its way? Maybe not. But what is certain is that they need to recalibrate for we need a robust, viable, LIME to prevent Digicel from doing to us what they (C&W) once did to us.

Herman D. Alvaranga is President of the Caribbean School of Sales Management.