Have you heard this one?
Sales asks for support material.
Marketing supplies support material.
Sales doesn’t use support material.
I have. Many times. The reason for this could be that marketing just keeps missing the mark, or it could be that sales wants what can’t be delivered: a sure-fire short-cut to closing sales.
Here’s the irony. It appears that today the sales-support material being produced by marketing is threatening to put salespeople out of a job.
According to an article on Quartz.com from last year, the internet is making us poorer by hollowing-out the middle class. Jobs that used to be performed by real people (e.g. secretaries, phone operators, travel agents, bookkeepers) are now being done by interconnected technologies.
An unfortunate situation, but not that surprising, I guess. That was until I saw this chart:
The article didn’t dwell on it, but the biggest drop in employment over the last 30 years has been amongst sales reps! And that’s when I realized that we marketers are contributing to the untimely demise of the sales rep.
Sales isn’t really going away, of course. Before a buyer makes a big purchase, they’re going to want to see the whites of someone’s eyes. But the role of the sales rep as first line of information is diminishing as most B2B buyers now prefer to be three-quarters of the way through their decision cycle before they speak to a rep. And the information/content that buyers are mining in their early decision cycle is found on the web and supplied by marketing.
Content marketing is more important than ever (see an earlier post on Peak Content), and the role of marketing has moved downstream, closer to the actual sale. Marketing’s role has become one of knowledge facilitator for the buyer, rather than that of brochure-ware producer for the sale team, as may have been true in the past.
You could call this "Revenge of the Marketing Nerds."
Drew Williams is a serial marketing entrepreneur and co-author of Feed the Startup Beast: A 7 Step Guide to Big, Hairy, Outrageous Sales Growth (McGraw-Hill 2013). Drew shares his beast-building ideas at FeedTheBeast.biz/blog and @FeedYourBeast.
Originally published Jan 6, 2014 12:07:00 PM, updated January 06 2014