Beyond the Number
Why as a Sales Rep, I Sometimes Feel Jealous Of Marketing (And What I Am Doing About It)
A few weeks ago, my colleague Jade from Marketing posted a shocking confession on our company blog. She admitted to feeling occasional bouts of jealousy towards sales. Shocking not because of the intimate nature of her confession. Shocking because… I sometimes feel the same way about her role!
I’m in sales. I’m surrounded by colleagues who are also in sales. When you’re in sales, sometimes you’ll have terrific months and sometimes you’ll have atrocious months. As a sales rep, I walk amongst colleagues whose performance is so impressive that I, too, get jealous of sales (and I’m in sales!).
Like many sales reps out there, I’ve looked at marketing and wondered about what life must be like “on the other side of the fence.” It’s an issue that there even is such a fence, but I’ll come back to that.
Confession time: as a sales rep, I sometimes feel jealous of marketing. Having worked at 3 high tech companies since college, I have worked closely with marketing for most of my career. I can personally attest that sometimes, the sea feels calmer over in the quiet marketing pods.
I occasionally wonder what it would be like to work on creative content for various departments, to enjoy collaborating on abstract ideas for months down the road, and to get unyielding praise from sales for providing them with the air support that they can always use. Because I have a background in digital marketing prior to sales - I’ve published my own digital products and I’ve promoted others’ products as their affiliate - I’ve lived and breathed the pros and cons of both roles. Here are a few of my personal observations.
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Why Sales Reps Admire Marketing
Admiration Source #1: Marketing spends the budget
Shopping is fun. If you disagree, save yourself 6 minutes of your life and stop reading right now. Marketing gets to have that fun because they hold the purse strings while sales holds the bag.
Marketing has the mission-critical responsibility of stretching every dollar. More importantly, they have lots of dollars to stretch. Sales does not. People in the marketing role are doing the one thing that sales reps hate in prospects: being frugal. But since they’re doing it to help me, I’m totally okay with that. It’s because they are frugal that they’re trusted with the budget.
I can’t think of one salesperson who doesn’t want to “walk the walk and talk the talk” like the smartest person in the room. In reality, the smartest person in the room is often the quietest – because they’re invested in listening more than they are invested in talking.
This is what marketing does. They occupy their time with things that make them wiser. They listen for opportunities to help sales. Who doesn’t want wisdom to be their job?
Sales pays for payroll, but marketing pays for sales to pay for payroll.
I don’t say that to take away the wisdom of consistent closers. Sales pays for payroll, but marketing pays for sales to pay for payroll. This is why I admire the rational decision-making aspect of their role: they make the best decisions. These decisions, in turn, drive my admirations #2-4.
Admiration Source #2: It always seems like the marketing role has more freedom.
Big ideas. Brainstorm sessions. Artistic mock-ups. Vision quests. All of these “outside-the-box” activities can feel like a breath of fresh air to a sales rep who puts in 50+ hour weeks with one 30-minute break per workday, making “inside-the-box” calls and writing “on-message” emails. I think it would be a lot of fun to decide what the message is.
Because marketing teams operate on a different set of rules than sales, they have more room for creativity to float around their pods. As a sales rep, I must balance my cravings for creativity with the necessity of daily / weekly / monthly production.
In marketing, they have guidelines that usher in eyeballs. In sales, we have guidelines that usher in revenue efficiency. I admire marketing for being highly responsible with their guidelines, because they’re bringing in the best eyeballs a sales rep can dream of, given the guidelines that they have.
What I’ve done about it:
I volunteered to write this blog post! It can be as simple as that. I felt the urge to find a creative outlet and I found it. I would say, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” But I won’t say that. You’ll know why towards by the end of the post, I promise.
Make your sales and marketing teams the Beyoncé and Jay-Z of your company.
Admiration Source #3: Marketing has direct attribution to my pipeline
Last Monday, I woke up to an inbound demo request from a company I’ve been assigned. I’ve been prospecting into that account, but the inbound demo request came from our website, and it was not from any of the people I tried to reach.
I can say that I earned that inbound demo all by myself. After all, I’ve been contacting people at that company for quite some time. My email must’ve gotten forwarded to the right person, and because I waited patiently, I finally got a demo!
But guess what?
I’m not in charge of the website that took the inbound demo!
Our company website is just the main hub of information. From there, my prospects (i.e., marketing’s future buyers) can download all sorts of goodies. Those, too, come from marketing – not me. Case studies, white papers, ebooks, webinars, you name it. A small handful of our talented marketing people poured their heart into making these pieces, and now they’re paying to keep the lights on for the whole company.
I’m sure every single one of my colleagues would agree that over the course of their careers, the work of marketing will add thousands of dollars to their paychecks this year. Could a sales rep like me call themselves a sales rep and survive on marketing-generated leads? Absolutely not. But it’s nice to have air support manifest itself like this.
What I’ve done about it:
Every single day, I use marketing-generated content in my sales workflow. I don’t let any opportunity slip by. When I see a chance to educate my prospect with the most relevant PDF, video, webinar or blog post, I take it. I also post our marketing-generated content on my LinkedIn as a way to thoughtfully engage with my social network.
Admiration Source #4: Marketing makes the biggest impact in the organization
When a sales rep closes a deal, they get a round of applause, a chain of email congrats, and a handful of fist bumps (pun intended). But when a marketing rep publishes a piece, they get an opportunity to make or break dozens, even hundreds of future deals.
In other words… If sales closes a deal, they may get $50k in ARR. But if marketing creates a killer webinar, they may get $5M in ARR in the next 18-24 months. The old adage is, “when they cut the budget, guess who they cut first,” hinting at departments that are thought of as non-essential. But this old way of thinking no longer applies to marketing.
For organizations that want to better understand their customer, marketing is absolutely essential to their bottom line. No market is “too small” for marketing. Even government contractors that have a total addressable market of 1 have marketing content (RFPs) used by tender participants (sales reps).
What I’ve done about it:
We have a killer video starring our Sr. Vice President of Revenue Operations, Matt Millen, which I send out as part of my Initial Meeting Confirmation sequence. It’s very simple: after I book a meeting and send over the invite, I send my prospects a brief email to introduce my Account Executive, and at the end of the email, you’ll see a thumbnail with Matt’s “secret” welcome video that you won’t find anywhere else. If you ever book a meeting with Outreach, keep an eye out for that video in your inbox! (Hint-hint, the demo request link is here).
Throughout this post, when I referred to sales and marketing roles, I’ve used the term ‘role’ purposefully. I took great care not to call them jobs or professions… and there’s a reason for it.
The reason is because I sincerely believe that marketing and sales are just that: they’re roles that people play in the profession that we call success.
Let’s break it down.
Your profession is your field of influence. Your job is what you do. If you choose to be in the success profession, then your job is to bring value. As such, both sales and marketing are playing for the same team.
If you can’t join them, join them anyway.
As it turns out, my jealousy of the marketing role wasn’t jealousy after all. Come to think of it… It was admiration!
The problem is, most organizations haven’t realized this yet. Most organizations are using the old playbook. In the old playbook, there was a fence between marketing and sales because the two roles were thought of as having vastly different purposes.
In today’s modern organization, marketing and sales serve the same purpose: revenue generation. Other benefits attained by marketing and sales are only beneficial for as long as they carry the potential to generate revenue in the future.
The only fence between sales and marketing is time. While Marketing works to sow Q4’s future harvest, Sales works to reap the benefits of Marketing’s work completed in Q1 and Q2.
Once these two orgs come to a mutual understanding of this fact – that they are playing on the same field – they will realize that there is no fence, except the invisible fence of time.
They will realize that there is no greener grass. That it’s all the same grass. And it’s only greener where you water it.
And they will realize that maybe… just maybe… their seeds of jealousy have grown into sprouts of admiration.
Do you ever feel admiration for marketing? Let me know why in the comments!