A friend of mine has a great career as a bus mechanic, but nobody seems eager to do what he does for a living, or advise him on how to improve his processes. Compare that to being a tech marketer – or a marketer of any guise (I consider PR, my main discipline and daily dollar, to be a subsection of marketing). Whenever people hear what a marketer is planning, or spy marketing plans scribbled on a whiteboard, they all seem to want to get involved in some way. People voice their opinions, recall their own experiences, and dig out their red pens – it’s just human nature.
Please don’t misunderstand me, it’s not that I think input and opinions are bad things. I enjoy hearing other people’s views, and friends and colleagues who know me well will tell you that I also like to articulate my own opinions -especially on a topic that I’ve chosen to specialise in, such as technology PR; it’s a quality that makes me a good consultant. But there is a specific group that seems to get under the in-house tech marketer’s skin in a way that others can’t. No, not the competition. Not even persistent ‘pay-for-play-it’s-advertising-veiled-as-editorial’ callers. No, I’m talking about tech marketers’ own sales teams.
Time and time again, whether working in-house at software companies, running European-wide marketing campaigns, or partnering with clients from an agency standpoint, I have witnessed unsolicited input from sales get the collective hackles up across a marketing team. But why does this happen? And how can a more productive relationship be achieved? Well, I believe there are two sides to this problem that must be resolved.
Firstly, sales people need to nurture effective marketing, because their very success – and salary – depends on it. Yes, we all know that some tech sales people are fully marketing-independent, self-sufficient, and proud of their independence. While some of that stance is admirable, it can also create a broken system and not one to boast about. Sales teams need leads – relevant and receptive individuals and businesses that are interested in the products and services being offered. So those sales teams turn to marketing for this interest to be piqued, and for strong messaging with a perfect balance of relevance and swagger (if you hate this word, think ‘market ownership’). Sales people need marketers to help them engage and connect with people they can work with. As they say, nothing happens in business until someone sells something.
And secondly, some marketers need to be a little less defensive. Marketing is a discipline that is spurred by the creation and nurturing of ideas, and so it’s bound to be just a little tempting for other people to want to, well, chip in. Whoever those people or teams are within your company with sudden interest in what you are working on, they really should be applauded and encouraged. After all, it’s no bad thing to have a sales team that is eager. A sales team that wants to see, be involved or have input into marketing should be regarded as a good thing. Just consider the alternative; a sales team that doesn’t care or want to know what marketing has in the pipeline.
What to do if you’re in technology marketing?
So, if you’re a tech marketer that wants to be open and amenable to fresh ideas, but also wants the sales team to stop looking over your shoulder, I’d advise keeping them so busy with hot leads, that they don’t have time to help. Not sure where to start? Well, if you’re a tech startup then check out our new designed-just-for-you PR packages, or contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a call to discuss how you can increase leads / distractions for your sales team.