How to Manage Different Perspectives From One Sales Team
An interesting aspect of corporate life is how diverse talents across departments come together for the company’s greater good. Everybody contributes different experiences, skill sets and ideas regarding the best way for the company to thrive.
As a marketer, you collaborate with many areas of the company. Perhaps most intriguing is the symbiotic relationship with sales.
Sales needs marketing to provide the market insights, strategic direction and targeted materials to sell effectively. Marketing needs sales to provide feedback on how marketing resources are working in the field, and what gaps in support materials should be filled.
That’s where things can get complicated.
Challenges with alignment
The typical sales function in financial services is segmented by external and internal. The external team, which is out dealing with financial advisors, is made up of wholesalers and their immediate support staff.
The internal team is usually made up of inside sales reps and coordinators, plus those in practice management, business development and certain leadership roles who tend to be based at head office (although they also maintain an external presence).
The challenge is that the external and internal teams hold their own views on marketing requirements. The external team believes they can better gauge needs because they’re regularly meeting with advisors. The internal team, notably senior leadership, believes they have a better overall perspective because they’re not deep in the weeds.
With different views come different direction. For instance, internal sales leadership may want a brochure created on a particular product, while the external team says advisors want one-pagers. Marketing is left trying to reconcile competing requests.
So, while the internal team may be pushing to create a brochure, the external team is cranking out one-pagers to meet their own needs. Misalignment can also occur within teams (e.g., not all wholesalers share the same views or have the same needs).
Helping to gain alignment
This is just one example of many that you’ve likely experienced at some point. In such situations, marketing leadership can help.
Maybe they can have key sales members jump on a call with marketing to come up with an aligned approach that reasonably satisfies all parties. Or, sales leadership can be engaged to bring their teams together and align their marketing needs.
If possible, marketing should not proceed on initiatives until alignment is achieved, as it could waste time and effort – and cause friction within sales – to choose one group’s wishes over the other’s.
While marketers can voice their opinion on the best course of action and support it with rationale and related metrics or research, it’s wise not to “take sides” or pit one team against another.
After all, the marketing function runs smoother when all partners feel engaged and valued, which ultimately benefits the entire company.
I Have A Brand And It Haunts Me
I was talking to my pal “Jonas” who recently decided to freelance (vs building a multi-consultant business) when he left a bigger firm to do his own thing.
Jonas is a global talent guy who works across the planet for some of the world’s most well known companies. He decided his best play—the one that would allow him to focus on what he loves most and live the life he’s planned—is to freelance for other firms.
His plan got off to a bit of a rocky start because—get this—none of the firms he approached believed he’d actually want to “just” freelance. He’d earned his rep by steadily building deep, brand name client relationships, practices and business, not by going off by himself as a solo.
Or as he put it “I have a brand and it haunts me.”
We both had a good belly laugh because he was already rolling in new projects, thrilled with his choice to freelance.
And yet, isn’t that the truth?
Good, bad, indifferent—our brands DO haunt us.
They whisper messages to those in our circle “trust him, he’s the bomb”, “hire her for anything creative as long as your deadline isn’t critical”, “steer clear—he talks a good game but doesn’t deliver”.
And thanks to social media, those messages—good and bad—can accelerate faster than you can imagine. One client, one reader, one buyer can be the pivot point that takes your consulting business to new territory.
So how do you deal with it?
Yep—you go for more of what comes naturally. In Jonas’ case, he stuck with what he’s known for—his work, his relationships, his track record for integrity—and won over any lingering skepticism about his move.
We weather the bumps in the road by staying true to who we are at our core.
So when a potential client says “Sorry, you’re just too expensive for me”, you don’t run out and change your prices. Instead, you listen carefully and realize they aren’t the right fit for your particular brand of expertise and service.
When a social media troll chooses you to lash out at, you ignore them and stay with your true audience—your sweet-spot clients and buyers.
And when your most challenging client tells you it’s time to change your business model to serve them better, you listen closely (there may be some learning here) and—if it doesn’t suit your strengths—you kiss them good-bye.
If your brand isn’t haunting you, is it really much of a brand?
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