Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Why Marketing and Sales are so intertwined...especially for the manufacturing industry

I've been a marketing person for a long time, but in between, I also was a sales person for many years.  Why? Because the two are intertwined.  Especially when marketing to engineers (see me later this month at a CFE Event), you need to know your stuff, and you can't be at all "fluffy."  Honestly, I cringe when I see value propositions that are so soft and non-commital (and non-measurable) in this industry (we are the #1 etc. etc., without any foundation).

But why sales and marketing?  Because, as someone told me long ago, you need to be able to defend your positioning, and the best way is by trying to sell someone.  Without that reality check, all of the best marketing in the world is unfounded and untested.

I am amazed at the number of marketing folks, especially in industrial automation, that have never visited a plant or talked with a customer.  As the industry gets more complicated, and the offerings more complex (big data, cloud, mobility) having the voice of the customer to give you direction and feedback, or validate your positioning, becomes critical.  So selling becomes that first line in getting those reactions to your messages, and value propositions, firsthand.  It's invaluable and it's necessary.  And although it appears to be a distraction, it's actually as a marketer one of the best things you can do. 

If you don't want to get 100% into sales, use the buddy system--tag along the next time a sales person visits a customer, go to tradeshows, talk with people in your network or industry.  Join organizations such as MESA to get an unbiased (ie, non-product specific) view of your world and how your offerings fit into their everyday operations.  And then use it==roll those learnings back into your messaging, positioning and value props, if they apply and they are pertinent to your marketing/sales efforts.  Marketing at best is iterative, it adapts to new products, markets, technology.  But most importantly, it should reflect the "real life" conditions of your customers and prospects to make it ring true. And that's why sales and marketing are intertwined.

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