Should marketers really be focused on keeping their salesforce happy?

Had a conversation with a client inside a major marketing dept. a few weeks back. I asked “What makes you think you know what influences your customers?”. “Our salesforce tells us – and they always say advertising helps. That’s about it. And taking their prospects out to see existing customers of course.”

It can’t really all boil down to these two things. I often hear advertising called ‘air cover’ – hard to measure its effect but you need it there to create the impression of weight. Many salespeople have traditionally liked advertising because it gives them an entry point into a prospect conversation – “You might have seen our ads in/on ….” I don’t have a great issue with B2B advertising – because it clearly does work with buyers sometimes.

Installed-base trips have always been, and will surely remain, extremely important in many B2B sectors. A great endorsement can be priceless. But we all know there’s more than just these two tentpoles.

It interested me that he seemed content that his view of the customer was sourced entirely from his few contacts in sales. Especially considering how superficial this advice obviously was. I was surprised my guy in marketing was so dismissive of the original question. And so un-analytical. Perhaps he felt he didn’t need to look any further.

Maybe he saw his job (which he’d kept for over ten years) as keeping the salesforce happy more than he saw his job being to understand the customer. It left me wondering how prevalent that view might be in marketing depts today?

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