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SALES AND MARKETING NEED TO “TIGHTEN UP”

There was a popular song in the 1960’s called, “Tighten Up.” The lead singer would exhort each member of the band to play a solo lick to demonstrate his/her individual capability. First, the drummer would show off his skills, followed by the bass guitar, the lead guitar and the organ. In the end all would play together demonstrating that the overall success of the song depended upon the sound they created as a group, not merely as soloists. Sales and Marketing people would do well to listen to a copy of this song. For many years, these two functions played their parts individually with little thought to coordinating their respective activities. Sales would typically work solo “customer by customer,” monitoring individual results, following up on details and closing in on prospects that represented significant sales potential. Marketing would take a broader approach, searching for new sales targets and fabricating messages it thought its customer base wanted to hear. The two groups rarely communicated their respective strategies and activities. At our company technology is bringing down that barrier by changing the way these two groups communicate with one another. We are in the process of implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) package. This computerized communication system links our internal people with our outside sales representatives over the Internet. For example, if a customer has a quality issue, an entry will be made into the CRM package under that account. This is now visible for all to see.

The implications are significant for the sales and marketing functions. Sales enters notes about the accounts they see. Through these recordings, issues surface about customers that provide a source of relevant information for marketing. Is a customer looking for cost reduction? Marketing can respond immediately by providing information on a number of options regarding the way they are currently purchasing and receiving our products. Sales also benefits from the information marketing records. A new Toyota® plant is opening in San Antonio, Texas around 2006. Through CRM, marketing notifies our field sales representatives in that area of Toyota’s plans. More importantly, the note remains associated with that account indefinitely so that in four years time, marketing will once again remind sales of the existing opportunity. Marketing Communications can also function more efficiently as a result of this grass roots communication. Instead of sending out 10,000 mailers to everyone on their list, they can segment accounts based on the information sales is feeding them through CRM about what their accounts truly want. Through better desktop publishing tools like color printers and scanners, it is economically feasible to produce “onsey, twosey” mailers that contain relevant information to only a small group of customers. Of course, no sophisticated software tool can provide the necessary human qualities of a positive attitude and a willingness to cooperate, both essential to making this program work. Both groups should sit down together to discuss how they could work jointly on target accounts as well as mutually agree on the most pertinent customer issues. Most importantly, they must agree that their daily interface will be non-adversarial and directed to the mutual objective of improving the bottom line.

They day’s of the solo act are over. It’s time for sales and marketing to tighten up.

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