During marketing week we had the chance to hear directly from leaders about their experiences and careers in marketing. Interesting, but everyone has a story like the ones we heard. I was looking for the lessons learned and how that applies to me and my work and career. A sampling of my notes:
Very powerful when a marketer prefaces comments with; “the data suggests.”
You have done something right, when sales asks you to meet with a tough customer. It shows they trust you and believe that you can help them.
Can you deliver a hard message to the sales team?
Can you generate customer enthusiasm?
Are you willing to ask the obvious questions?
Make sure that you know the difference between “assertive” and “aggressive.”
Be ready for this interview question. “Who have you mentored or managed that you are most proud of?”
I had the great opportunity to attend a Change Acceleration Process (CAP) training workshop a couple of months ago. Now I have the even better opportunity to put it into practice. That happens sometimes. You attend a workshop and then actually use what you learned at the workshop as part of your real job.
The situation. I am part of a four person team with an idea. Each of the four of us is passionate about the idea. No executive sponsor anywhere in sight. Even our line managers are not fully updated and certainly not on board. A classic ground up idea in a culture that prefers top down ideas. There is a lot of work to do, no budget, and we are not ready to pitch anything to anyone.
The CAP tool that I like the most right now is called a stakeholder analysis. We have a long list of stakeholders and a scale that indicates our impression of their reaction to our idea, if they knew about it. The other part of the scale is where we think they need to be, to support our idea so that it can be turned into an official program. I hope this does not sound too manipulative, but the stakeholder analysis is helping us to formulate tailored selling strategies for each of the stakeholders. Who prefers logic and who prefers emotion, who will get it immediately and who will need time to think it over. If another team had me on their stakeholder analysis, they would put me down as someone who wants a customer perspective and will listen carefully to give the idea a fair chance. I will formulate an opinion quickly. I will need some evidence to support the idea, but not too many details. Why do I like the stakeholder analysis tool so much? Because in the past that I have assumed that everyone is like me and that they will love my ideas. Whoops. What dumb mistakes! I know better now. Marketers have to sell and to sell you have to know who you are selling to and be willing to flex to their preferences.
- Prepare your case
- Ask for what you want
- Make your case
- Ask for commitment
It starts with clarifying your purpose. Also known as, “use a mirror first.” You have to know what your idea is and why it is meaningful. Then you can identify the stakeholders and predict the points of resistance.
Be creative as you define your idea and prepare your ask. If your idea creates a unifying and lofty goal that you can rally support around, that is great. If not, you will need to be able to connect your idea to existing corporate goals or strategies.
As you make your case, be ready to customize the message to the audience. What is in it for them and what is the best way (media and format) to make your appeal? Expect that leaders of a business unit are interested in anything that affects their results, but that not everyone needs to know all of the program plan milestones. Use questions carefully. Open ended to illicit information, closed to get focus or obtain approval. The art is mixing emotion, humor, logic and evidence in a way that makes everyone feel dignified and respected.
Sooner rather than later, but not too soon, assess readiness to commit to the idea. If you ask for commitment and get it, conclude the meeting by restating their commitment and then stop talking. If the stakeholders are not ready to commit, ask; “What can I do to win your commitment?” And take it from there.
Winning approval for ideas is a weakness in my game that I am working for the next few months. The inspiration for this blog comes from an on-line seminar I recently attended. I am also reading The Art of Woo, by Shell and Moussa. This book is about using strategic persuasion to sell ideas.
What keeps you up at night? Marketers like this question. The thinking is that if you can find what is so aggravating for the client, that they work on it during the day and even during non-work hours, AND you have a solution, then win-win is possible. The client can relax, at least during their off hours, and your solution returns value to your organization, that is the winning outcome we dream about.
What would happen if you figured out what was keeping the client up at night, and you did not have a solution?
Posted in Selling
A typical sales team has more than a fair share of driven to succeed, money motivated individuals. These can be among the most difficult to manage people in any organization. To properly to manage the sales team and measure individual performance, it is imperative for the sales manager to establish a formal and documented evaluation process.
Marketing managers on the other hand, evaluate the sales performance of product lines with the intention of identifying growth opportunities and trends. The marketing manager must know the actual sales and budgets and be capable of analyzing sales data. The analysis leads to changes in the marketing mix and / or additional sales training to assure that sales plans are attained.
Posted in Selling