In almost every way imaginable, marketing is in the midst of a dramatic transformation that is rewriting the rules of how companies large and small engage with prospects and customers. This transformation is driven by the Internet-enabled online world, which has changed the way that people buy products and services.
Because DemandGen is at the forefront of helping marketers succeed as they work through this transformation, I was recently asked to address Sales and Marketing staff at Microsoft, where I began my career, to talk about why and how the alignment of these teams is vital for growing market share and customer engagement. I told them a little story from those early days.
When I was studying marketing in college, my professor Jerry Rosen (who was also an award-winning advertising creative director) gave me a piece of advice. He said, “Start your career in Sales instead of going into Marketing; you will learn why people buy, and it will make you a better marketer.” I was stunned at first, but I took that advice, and just two weeks after collecting my diploma, I joined the Microsoft U.S. Sales and Marketing Division, which at the time was in the process of growing market share for Windows, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint versions 1.0.
When I demoed the features and benefits that were so new and exciting, everyone would nod in agreement that these solutions were huge improvements over what they used — but they didn’t buy right away. Why weren’t people flocking to upgrade to a revolutionary new interface that was clearly better than what they were using? Bill Gates — who knew a lot about the value of knowing why people buy and why they don’t — asked the Sales team to communicate objections and to give feedback to both Marketing and Product Marketing so they could develop the content and tools for us to overcome resistance.
One of the biggest pieces of feedback we shared with Marketing was that we needed to stop selling Word, Excel, and PowerPoint as separate products. We learned from demoing them that the whole was greater than the sum of the products. This feedback not only paved the way for creating Microsoft Office, but it transformed our sales and marketing efforts from marketing multiple products to just one. Just think of the efficiencies and acceleration in Microsoft’s growth created by that feedback.
This is a prime example of the tremendous importance of aligning Sales and Marketing. To market successfully, the most wonderful marketing expertise is not enough. You must learn why people buy, and how they buy. Sales develops these insights and hones these skills every day, because they are intimately engaged with prospects and customers. But most marketers stay very distant from Sales’ experiences and insights. If you want to be a world-class marketer, you can’t do that. The closer you align to Sales and to our mutual customers, the more you’ll learn about creating content, events, and demos that accelerate the buying process and market share.
Next time, we’ll fast-forward to today, and I’ll share three tips to help you achieve tighter alignment with Sales, and understand more about the buying process — without having to switch your career into Sales!
Interested in learning about more best practices on how to align your sales and marketing? Check out some of our related content, Tips and Tricks to Aligning Sales and Marketing and How to Improve Sales and Marketing Alignment. If you want to learn more on our sales and marketing best practices or any other services we offer, drop us a note!
For more than 20 years, David Lewis has been a pioneering innovator in digital marketing, and has overseen marketing for some of Silicon Valley’s leading technology firms. Taking his expertise for “Making Marketing Matter”, he founded DemandGen in 2007 to build the worlds’ first marketing technology agency.
For the past decade, David and his team at DemandGen have been at the forefront of the transformation taking place in marketing by helping 100’s of the top sales and marketing teams around the world incorporate marketing automation to drive growth. David is an accomplished industry speaker, thought leader, and author. His ground-breaking work on the transformation of marketing and sales is at the heart of his book, Manufacturing Demand: The Principles of Successful Lead Management.