Marketing And Sales Is Like Football

Marketing And Sales Is Like Football

In a complex B2B sale, the salesperson’s job is to enhance and personalize the marketing message for the buyer. The salesperson is supposed to deliver the information from the company to the decision-maker in a way that effectively shows the product and company in the best light for that particular prospect. 

The easiest way to show this is via a vector diagram. While I understand that vector mathematics may be scary for some readers, they are not that difficult to comprehend.

Figure A: Marketing message for commodity products.

As we can see in Figures A and B, the goal is to convince the prospect that the company’s product is the best product for this purchase. Marketing has to deliver content to all prospects, so it cannot perfectly align the message to the specific goals of the individual prospect. Also, since Marketing has no knowledge of which competitors are in play in that particular situation, they cannot efficiently deliver traps in most cases. Therefore, we see that the messaging from Marketing is not the shortest distance from your company to the finish line of winning the decision by the prospect.

In Figure A, the product sold is a commodity-type product. In this case, the marketing message is entirely adequate to convince the prospect to buy the product. Even though the message is not perfectly aligned to the prospect’s specific needs, the product’s benefits are sufficiently understood to get across the line.

In Figure B this is not the case. In Figure B, the message is still not perfectly aligned to the prospect’s needs, and it is not adequate to make a decision. It may not be enough information, and it also may not be the correct type of information. Therefore, a salesperson needs to fill in the information to cover the gap.

Figure B: Marketing and sales message for non-commodity products.

This information gap is why it is so important for salespeople to exist. They need to take the information that is created by the marketing department and efficiently deliver it to the prospect. Great salespeople need to package information so that the prospect can make the desired decision. 

It is impossible for the marketing department to create a targeted value pitch to every prospect. The more efficient the salesperson is in packaging this information to control the buying process, the more products that the salesperson will sell and the higher his or her commission.

The above analysis is not to give the marketing department a break in delivering fantastic content. It should be the goal of all marketing departments to provide content that can be easily repackaged and tuned to the needs of the trap-setting salesperson. The marketing department needs to acknowledge that they are unable to convince the majority of the prospects to make a favorable decision and understand that if they work with imaginative salespeople, sales will come more frequently.

Let me try to explain this with some sports metaphors. In American football, the quarterback and team don’t go straight down the field. They do a series of plays going left and right but always trying for a net forward position. Some plays will be a run to the left, a pass to the right, or a run up the middle. 

Football is very analogous to a sales campaign. The amount sideways that the player travels doesn’t matter. It is only the forward progress that matters. The goal of the football team is to advance the ball to cross the end line, and it doesn’t matter if that is through the middle of the field or in either corner.

Your goal is the same as the football team. You are responsible for getting the ball into the end zone or, more accurately, for closing the order. In football, the offensive team has the goal of moving the ball down the field to the touchdown. They have this goal if they receive the ball on their 49-yard line. They also have this goal if they receive the ball on their 2-yard line. The goal doesn’t change based on the position of the ball on the field. It also doesn’t change for you based on the quality or source of the lead.

By accepting that you cannot use the excuse of a bad marketing department in your success or lack thereof, you will become more successful. Your job is to take the leads that you receive and make them orders. Your job is to take the content that you receive from the marketing department and make it understandable and persuasive to your prospect. The ultimate failure is yours, not your marketing department. It is your job on the line. It is your commission on the line. You must take what marketing has prepared and use it to be successful.

It is not the fault of your marketing department if your literature and website are not perfect matches for your prospects. You need to bridge the gap between the standard marketing message and the fine-tuned and tailored message that will resonate with your prospect.

Take the ball and get it down the field to score. That is what you are paid to do. The great quarterbacks of the NFL do not complain that they always get the ball on their own 15-yard line. They put a plan together and do everything in their power and the power of their team to score a touchdown. You need to do the same. You need to do the same thing because there is no crying in sales.

Leave a Reply