Beyond the Number

Why as a Marketer, I Sometimes Feel Jealous of Sales (And What I Am Doing About It)

Jade Makana, Content Director, Veteran Marketer, Jealous Nellie

“It’s my right to be hellish. I still get jealous.” Nick Jonas, Song That Was Popular Briefly Like Two Years Ago

Confession time: as a marketer, I sometimes feel jealous of sales. Having worked in marketing for over a decade, I have worked closely with salespeople for most of my career. I can personally attest that sometimes, the grass just feels greener over in the boisterous sales pods. Here are a few reasons why, and what I’m doing about to conquer my bad case of peanut butter- and-jealousness (trademark term).  

Why Marketers are Jealous of Salespeople

Jealousy Source #1: It Always Seems Like Salespeople have More Fun. While people outside Marketing may be surprised to hear this, marketing teams often struggle to have fun. I’m not exactly sure why, but I can tell you that our colleagues over in sales never seem to suffer from this problem. While Marketing often struggles to pull together a monthly team lunch, sales camaraderie always seems to be through the roof. Whether they are dressing up in their best Captain Hook gear for Talk Like a Pirate Day, or doing a breakfast buffet to celebrate end of quarter, salespeople just seem to have more fun than marketers.

What I’ve Done About it: Rather than just let myself be suffused with envy for the upsetting lack of costume parties in Marketing, I have personally worked to instill the important cultural value of cheesy themed events into my own department. In fact, I have appointed myself Team Captain of Sensationally Fun Pastimes in all of my recent marketing roles. This has proved very successful. What I’ve learned is that Marketing teams aren’t opposed to having fun; they often just need someone to get the ball rolling. And yes, I am that Ball Roller. In my current role at Outreach, I am the proud founder of events the first Outreach Halloween party and the International Women’s Day Smorespalooza(you didn’t know s'mores and women’s equality were a thing? Well, they are.) I may still have a long way to go until we reach peak sales fun-ness (Galentine's Day and Worksgiving, I'm coming for ya) but it remains my dream.

Jealous Source #2: Salespeople have Direct Attribution to Revenue. “So you see...this Tweet inspired a website visit...which inspired a lead form...which inspired a pageview...did you know ‘pageview’ rhymes with ‘revenue’?” Sound familiar? Many of us marketers joke that we spend twenty percent of our time doing our job and eighty percent explaining how it brings value to the company. Salespeople, on the other hand, have clear value that can be pulled up in a spreadsheet or in Salesforce in seconds flat. The revenue that they drive for the business is undeniable. As a Marketer, you might be driving  loads of business, but proving it can feel nearly impossible. Maybe your genius billboard tagline really was the trigger that inspired the sale, but you have no way of proving it (at least until Black Mirror becomes a reality and the microchips are installed in everyone’s brains. That will be a glorious day for marketing attribution, although terrifying for society as a whole. That’s a tangent for another day.)

What I’ve Done About it: Barring the Black Mirror scenario, we are still a ways from the days where marketing ROI can be measured as effortlessly as sales ROI. But, great strides have been made in this area. Certain marketing disciplines like demand generation can now easily show a discernible ROI. This alone has been a game-changer for marketing as a whole. But even for those of us in creative fields, attribution has come a long way. I am proud to say I have brought a much higher level of data rigor to content marketing in every role I’ve been in, and am constantly on the hunt for the latest marketing attribution tools. I have worked in content marketing for over a decade, and each year, it gets significantly less traumatic. Thanks to new technology like Bizible, the dreaded days of explaining what those little bluebirds and thumbs ups’s mean to your terrifying Chief Financial Officer are becoming more and more distant. Vanity metrics cannot hurt us anymore. Whereas the only choice used to be quaking out some vague answer about “brand awareness” and then secretly crying in a ball under your desk, you can now pull up reports that do things like show the impact of blog posts on closed won revenue. I know; what a time to be alive! While it still does take significant legwork and dedication to report on marketing ROI in many disciplines, it is improving. For now, I take advantage of every single data source available so that marketing can put its best foot forward and show the value it brings–yep, just like sales.

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Jealousy Source #3: Salespeople Have Such a Strong Bond. I will never forget the time I flew to Boston to attend a quarterly sales meeting. I was the company Corporate Storyteller and I was there to update the sales team on the company “why us” story. Other than a few speaking jitters, I was expecting a relatively un-eventful day. To my acute horror, this meeting turned out to also include sales performance reviews–which occurred publicly at the conference table before my very eyes. Yes, apparently in sales, performance reviews are public. At least, these ones were. Apparently, the feedback you get discreetly delivered behind closed doors in Marketing (speak with more confidence, set better time management boundaries) was being delivered in real-time by the sales manager to her employees. The weirdest part? All of the salespeople in the room were super calm and un-phased. No one was freaking out except me.

While I was initially horrified, by the end of the reviews, I was, yep, a little jealous. Hearing the vulnerability in the room while people openly discussed their strengths, struggles, and weaknesses while their teammates listened attentively, offering suggestions and support, was actually pretty cool. As the event transitioned into an evening boat cruise and dinner, I also noticed how close the sales team member seemed–not surprising given the level of vulnerability they share with one another.

What I’ve Done About It: Please see–I kid; I kid. Ok, I admit I’m still not dying to have my performance review be publicly delivered. BUT I am personally committed to bringing more vulnerability and transparency to the Marketing culture. I am well-known for my leadership style, which includes building in a lot of teamwork and soft skills. For example, in my current Marketing Leader’s Meeting, we go around as peers and share our biggest fear or concern of the week. This simple practice has made me feel closer to my fellow leaders in a way that a thousand project status meetings, or even team happy hours, have not.

Jealousy Source #4: Sales Seems like the The Chosen, and Every Other Department is a Second-Class Citizen. In the last two companies I’ve worked in, sales has been the largest department. This alone tends to make sales feel like the alpha in the org. Factor in sales-specific events like President’s Club and National Sales Meetings, and it is easy to feel like no matter how much talk of inclusive company culture there is, your department will never really be valued as much as sales.

What I’ve Done About it: This is my best tip of all: get to know your sales team better. The best cure for feeling like a less-than is to make sales your partner instead of putting them on a pedestal. Using this philosophy, I’ve gotten to know the sales departments at my companies better and formed great relationships with them. In my last company, I had my entire content team join the Sales Book Club. Each week, the Content Marketing team would join Sales in discussing books like The Challenger Model. This worked out well because even though we contenters aren’t actually in sales, we are luckily still huge nerds–it was no stretch for us to arrive each week with our books rainbow-highlighted and ribbon tabbed. Because the topics were so squarely sales-oriented, the sales team was surprised to see us there each week, not only present but highly engaged. I know it went along way to forging a bond that we took interest in this activity. Bonus-The Challenger Model proved to be highly transferrable knowledge and is still one of the best and most powerful tools I’ve found to use in content marketing.

Similarly, in my current role now, I meet weekly with our SVP of Revenue, who is also the Executive Sponsor for our sales content destination Beyond the Number. This project is a perfect marriage of content and sales, so it has been a natural progression for us to work together. Still, I always secretly assumed he was taking the meetings as a favor to my VP of Marketing. Why would an SVP of Revenue, with so many more pressing concerns about quota and hitting our number want to hear about my story ideas for increasing sales vulnerability and celebrating the human side of sales? The reality is; he has been a passionate advocate for the project since day one, and has given me continued invaluable support.

Sales and Marketing Alignment: The Moral of the Story

While simply brooding about the lack of catered latte carts in Marketing can be tempting, it is ultimately not a good look. Sales and Marketing need to align for any business to succeed, and it is much more professionally and personally rewarding to find ways to work together. If you’re in marketing, it’s worth it to make the first move. By doing so, I’ve realized that salespeople are some of the most amusing, dynamic, intelligent, and admirable teammates I’ve had. I have longstanding relationships with many salespeople that I’ve met in business over the years that I value to this day. Also, if you can get friends in sales, they can get you a latte from the free latte you still don’t have to hit a quota, so it’s actually the best of both worlds.

There you have it! The top reasons marketers are jealous of sales. If you’re a marketer reading this, I’d love to know if you’ve been jealous of sales and what you’ve done about it. If you are in sales, I would love to hear whether you are jealous of marketers...and I would also love for you to bring me a latte. You know where I sit. See you soon.

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