...goes a long way, especially when I'm thinking about brands, brand management and the power of brands to build successful organizations and careers.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Get more sales by involving sales more

The void between marketing and sales is often daunting, at best, an insurmountable barrier, at worst. Sales people don't think they need marketing people and marketing people don't think they need sales people. I struggled to close this gap while serving as marketing services manager at large ingredients manufacturer in the food and dieatary supplement business. When we involved the field sales staff - actually sought their opinions, not just told them where they should be and at what time - great things happened.

By working together, we made trade shows, for example, a multi-faceted communications opportunity. We told our story a number of different ways.

At one show in New Orleans, we set up a duplicate trade show booth with every known marketing tool we'd every used in a meeting room near the arena. The sales people set up 21 customer meetings prior to the show, and held 19 of those during the trade show. Two client companies missed the show entirely because of another comittment and a missed airplane, but made up the meetings by visiting our corporate headquarters shortly after the show.

At another, we bought an opening night reception sponsorship and, instead of relying on recorded music, we hired the Bacon Brothers - Kevin Bacon and Michael Bacon - to put on a live concert. We sent CDs to our top 25 customers inviting them to the concert, held a meet-and-greet during the sound check, and gave them seats up front during the show.

That was six years ago, and I remember the moment like it was yesterday. Over the din of the band, Doug, one of the sales managers, yelled into my ear "Mark, you're a f_____ genius." Actually, it was a success because we got a lot of people involved in the planning and execution - including the sales staff - and we asked a lot of questions and we worked hard. The industry still talks about that concert today, and concerts have become pretty common at industry shows, so I know it works.

I just hope the people organizing the concerts are talking to the sales guys.

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